Yesterday, I was checking my son’s reading homework.
In one question, it asked what are the characteristics of an astronaut – he was supposed to find the right answer from the story he just read. My son’s answer was,
“Astronauts can be teachers, scientists, engineers, medical doctors, and sometimes pilots”.
Apparently, he copied this sentence directly somewhere from the story and he copied from the wrong place.
I explained to him,
“These are professions, they are not characteristics of a person. And do you know what a characteristic mean and what character of a person mean?”
My son didn’t.
I pointed to the right place of the story where it described astronauts need to be trustworthy and reliable. I said to my son,
“These are the characteristics of astronauts. They are not something measurable, but they represent quality or the character of a person.”
There has been one concept that I have been struggling to introduce to my son and I saw an opening at this moment. I said,
“Remember what dad has always been asking you to do, that is to choose to do the right thing instead of choosing the things you’d like to do.”
“Most of the times the right thing is the hard one, like doing your homework on time; and the things you’d like to do are easier and more fun, like playing video games.”
“And character is to choose to do the right thing even if it is harder, even if no one else told you so, even if no one is watching you, and even if there were easier and more fun things that you’d like to do instead.”
“Another way to say this is you chose the hard one just because it was the right thing to do, and that’s character.”
After a few more repetition in various ways, I still don’t think my son really grasped this concept; but this is something he and I need to keep working on.
Shouldn’t this be raising children all about? That is to help build their own characters so that they learn how to make right decisions and choose to do the right things – on their own – even in difficult and challenging times.
That’s when one is done his/her parenting job.