One Standard Fits All


Given the fact that every child is endowed with unique gifts, talents and personality that set him or her apart from others, is it reasonable to expect similar achievements from each child? If the question was limited to intellectual capacities, the answer is “No, you cannot expect identical results.” If limited to endowment of a specific gift, or athletic abilities, again, the answer is “No,” parents should not expect the same from each child. However, when it comes to character formation and moral education, one standard does fit all.


We recognize that all children are different. Brothers and sisters can be as different from each other as the child next door. Every child has a unique temperament and personality combination that distinguishes him or her from all others. However, personality development and moral training are not the same thing.


Think of temperament and gender as representing the foundation of a house. Built on the foundation is the child’s personality. Personality represents the unique style of each home: single level ranch, farm style, or multilevel. A person’s character is the quality of craftsmanship that went into building the house, regardless of its style, shape or uniqueness.


When it comes to character formation, how children learn will vary, but what they are learning must remain the same. Think of it this way. If you take 20 people and put them in a room, you will end up with a smorgasbord of personality and temperament combinations. Which of the 20 personality types should be exempt from kindness, patience, self-control, gentleness, humility, endurance, obedience, respect, honesty, or integrity? None, of course. When it comes to the standard of ethical training, one size fits all.


As parents, we do not lower the standards of moral expectations based on a child’s individual uniqueness; rather, with their uniqueness, we seek to bring each child to the standard. How that is accomplished can vary from child to child, and the achievement times will vary based on developmental age and readiness; but the moral standard to which each child is trained remains the same.


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