Moral is referred to the right conduct in relations with families and fellow-citizens, as well as the entire human race. With the perfect ideals of what is morally right and wrong, our society usually provides us a constant references or examples to support those conducts. It implies that each society set up for itself a different definition of moral respectively (Oladipo, 2009). In other word, the Chinese society defines the right conducts in their distinct set of standard, where the determination of conduct can be reflected in the teaching content of moral education.
During the Cultural Revolution in 1966-1976, the teaching content of moral education was solely on politics, and did it imply that the moral view of politicians were right? Nowadays, its content covers a wider variety of other terms ranging from communist ideology, politics, law, and morality to mental health (Xiaoman, & Cilin, 2004). Assuming that you are a child, and you are told to have moral education (the above topics), and there will be examination as assessment; it sounds like it is another typical boring lesson, and they will never perceive those topics as relevant to themselves.
In young children, the approach used by parents or caregivers are usually the most influential on children’s internalization of moral reasoning, and a closer relationship between the child and the parents generates a more productive environment to receive information relative to the moral issue (Oladipo, 2009).
Halstead (1999) indicated that parents implant their own particular family beliefs into children at a young age, and it commonly helps children to develop as a fair and trustworthy person before applying these family-based principles in the larger social context. Yet the diversity in family beliefs may arouse problems while children start to practically implement the moral conduct that was transmitted by their families. An example of this would be that in teaching children how to manage violent events, some parents may guide the children, “If someone hurts you, you should hurt them back to show that you are strong”, while other parents teach them to stay calm and ask for help instead of retaliating.
A commonly held belief is that the success of moral reasoning is originated by the value transmission from parents to their children. Therefore, families are usually being blamed when there is a moral decline reported in society (Halstead, 1999). However, Barni, Ranieri, Scabini and Rosnati (2011) questioned the willingness of children to accept the family values, and examined the effect of value transmission from parents to young adolescents. They found that young adolescents generally have a moderate level of acceptance to their perceived family values, indicating that to some extent, they agree and disagree with their perceived family values when compared to their personal values. Is it entirely a bad thing when adolescents reject to accept the family values?
Disagreement in family values can be seen as the involvement in exploring and developing their independent identity. Parents should not consider the differences in perceived family values as impassive conformity of their adolescent children, who disobey their wishes and expectation. Instead, providing the youths a freedom of thinking would help them establish a better process of comprehension, sharing and internalization to what is morally right and wrong.
I would like to suggest parents a few strategies in educating their children about morality:
- Engage actively in conversation with young children in order to understand what they encounter at school, as well as their diverse opinions on the happening;
- Provide opportunities and supports for children or young adolescents to express their point of view when teaching them the right conducts based on family values, as to increase their willingness of expressing themselves and establish a high level of bounding with children;
- Select topics from everyday news (i.e. moral deficiency news in my week 5 blog), and discuss with children or young adolescents openly, without providing an exact answer of right conducts; it will help them to generate an independent identity, understand the similarities and differences between fellow-citizens and the world, as well as reducing social problems.
- Barni, D., Ranieri, S., Scabini, E., & Rosnati, R. (2011). Value transmission in the family: do adolescents accept the values their parents want to transmit?. Journal of Moral Education, 40(1), 105-121.
- Halstead, J. M. (1999). Moral Education in Family Life: The Effects of Diversity. Journal of Moral Education, 28(3), 265-281.
- Oladipo, S. E. (2009). Moral Education of the Child: Whose Responsibility? Journal of Social Science, 20(2), 149-156.
- Xiaoman, Z. & Cilin, L. (2004). Teacher training for moral education in China. Journal of Moral Education, 33(4), 481-494.