“To educate a person in mind and not morals is to educate a menace to society.”
Some psychologists think values are impossible to teach, and it is certainly true that telling kids to be more honest, or diligent, or considerate, doesn’t work any better than telling adults to be. But if values are impossible to teach, they are too important to leave to chance.
In recent years, some schools have tried to add moral development to their curriculum. But schools have a tough time teaching kids values because they intervene too late, not to mention in too much isolation from the rest of the child’s life. Worse yet, they are often at odds with what the child is learning at home about values.
Because the truth, of course, is that we do teach values to kids, daily, every minute of their lives. The question isn’t whether to teach values, only WHAT we are teaching.
“But how do kids learn values, then?”
The way children learn values, simply put, is by observing what you do, and drawing conclusions about what you think is important in life. Regardless of what you consciously teach them, your children will emerge from childhood with clear views on what their parents really value, and with a well developed value system of their own.
“I’ve heard that peers are more important in shaping values than parents nowadays.”
Of course, parents are not the only source from which children learn values, and peers certainly influence your kids, especially as teenagers. And of course it’s healthy for young people to think for themselves and develop their own world view, as much as we may want to influence our children.