Prager U: What should parents want their children to be?

posted at 4:26 pm on March 17, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

When I was growing up, my parents had high expectations for me in terms of academic achievement. I was expected to excel, and especially to apply myself … which is usually where I chronically fell short. (My work ethic was a late-onset phenomenon.) More than anything, though, my parents wanted me to grow up to be a good person, and not just a successful person in the mercenary sense.

Prager University offers a new course on parental goals, and at the root, communicating the values of goodness as a priority over all other considerations. Nations grow stronger with more young people of integrity, and history offers lessons about the lack of such, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin instructs:

Although Rabbi Telushkin doesn’t explicitly address this, such an orientation requires a couple of basics. One is a perception that integrity matters more than financial success, which is what Rabbi Telushkin mainly argues here. The other prerequisite, though, is a sense of objective good on the part of the parents, which must exist before transmitting the priority of integrity to their children.

The issues raised in this video are produced not because people deliberately set out to be objectively evil, but because they are convinced that there is no objective good and therefore what is good for themselves is the same as good overall. To use one of the examples: If cheating on tests means getting the grades to get into that Ivy League school and one perceives that competitors are doing the same, then moral relativism would instruct that cheating is not just necessary but a perceived good by (a) punishing others who cheat, and (b) benefiting the center of one’s particular universe.

If parents want to instill and pass on the kind of values that produces integrity and goodness, they have to first embrace a philosophy of objective truth and moral imperatives. Without that, we should not be surprised to see a lack of integrity result in succeeding generations.

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What should parents want their children to be?

Happy, healthy, moral.

Oxymoron on March 17, 2014 at 4:36 PM

The other prerequisite, though, is a sense of objective good on the part of the parents, which must exist before transmitting the priority of integrity to their children

And if they had this to begin with, the orientation would be moot.

db on March 17, 2014 at 4:36 PM

That’s what makes the “O” such a remarkable role model. /

Deano1952 on March 17, 2014 at 4:40 PM

What should parents want their children to be?

Happier than their parents.

portlandon on March 17, 2014 at 4:42 PM

…they want them to grow up like JugEars…he is so awesome!

KOOLAID2 on March 17, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Alive till parturition is a great start.

Murphy9 on March 17, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Right with God and debt free.

Akzed on March 17, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Secular liberals a raising a generation of relativist, self-entitled, amoral Sandra Fluke’s. Do the opposite.

Whitey Ford on March 17, 2014 at 4:51 PM

I told my son that there were two things he could do to be a real man:
1) live by the Boy Scout Oath, Law and Motto
2) live by the Catechism (that would be Luther’s Small Catechism)

Churches and organizations may rise and fall. They may stray far afield from the truth. But it doesn’t negate said truth. Live by those truths, and you can live in the best of times and the worst of times. In the best of times you will not be led astray, and in the worst of times you will be strong enough to persevere.

(Oh yeah, and both of those are ‘objective truths‘. Imagine that.)

GWB on March 17, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Who is to determine what parents should want for their children? The government?

Lets say it’s the PARENTS. Not some creep from HHS, not your doctor, not some school psychobabbler.

Me, all I ever wanted from my kids is that they turned out honest and decent as well as having the ability to support themselves or better. I don’t need anyone telling me how to go about it, that’s my business.

Diluculo on March 17, 2014 at 4:55 PM

You and Prager keep using parents in the plural. Is that a realistic starting point? And it is important because one of the under-reported aspects of the battle for traditional marriage (over same sex marriage) is the idea that men and women provide a child with different things. That’s raising a decent child who contributes to society and not giving cover to political dogma.

And I realize that parents can have “Ex” status and still be involved in raising a child but that really goes to my point too. When mom and dad don’t work as a team under the same roof, well then you don’t raise kids you grow children who evolve into emotionally and ethically deficient children who never really became adults. Enthusiasm over Wendy Davis’s fake bio was because it all centered on beating the odds. Liberal media elites like Melissa Harris-Perry wants to collectivize the raising of children. Hillary Clinton claims that it takes a village.

But the reality is this. It takes decent parents to raise decent kids.

Happy Nomad on March 17, 2014 at 5:01 PM

I told my son I don’t want him to be just like me. I want him to be better than me.

CurtZHP on March 17, 2014 at 5:04 PM

I don’t need anyone telling me how to go about it, that’s my business.

Diluculo on March 17, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Are you resisting expected future attempts at government familial control, or are you saying that you don’t ever want any advice from anyone because you know everything anyone could possibly know about parenting?

(The way you worded it infers the latter, but I’m cutting you some slack) :)

itsnotaboutme on March 17, 2014 at 5:07 PM

What should parents want their children to be?

Happy, healthy, moral.

Oxymoron on March 17, 2014 at 4:36 PM

I would term it differently. You want your kids to be contributors to society not among the moochers.

Happy Nomad on March 17, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Oldest daughter came home from college after her freshman year and said, “Ugh, you made me a moral person. All my friends were taking glasses from the restaurant and I just couldn’t do it. Why would you do that to me?” LOL

She also said to her younger siblings, “Mom and Dad are pretty good compared to what some people have for parents.” That was the sweetest thing she ever said about us.

I think we did okay.

Fallon on March 17, 2014 at 5:21 PM

The scary thing is that if parents don’t intentionally inculcate their values into their kids, then the kids probably will be more swayed by the liberal culture to adopt the liberal culture’s values. That is being seen with so many kids leaving church as soon as they move away from their parents. The kids were never really convinced of the values in the first place, while they were living with their parents. Culture is no longer our friend (like it was in the 1950s). It is now usually our enemy and we must purposefully try to counter it. It is a battle for our kids’ souls.

mydh12 on March 17, 2014 at 5:24 PM

I like the first post.

mixplix on March 17, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Happy, healthy, moral.

Oxymoron on March 17, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Well said. Everything else truly desirable and worthwhile will follow.

Infidelius on March 17, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Oldest daughter came home from college after her freshman year and said, “Ugh, you made me a moral person. All my friends were taking glasses from the restaurant and I just couldn’t do it. Why would you do that to me?”

Fallon on March 17, 2014 at 5:21 PM

I recently had a situation where I bought a soda from a machine. I got two for the price of one. The twenty-something idiot behind me acted as if I had won the soda jackpot.

The look on his face when I put the “extra” soda on top of the machine was priceless.

Happy Nomad on March 17, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Happy Nomad on March 17, 2014 at 5:35 PM

I get the same look when the scanner at a store does not register the item and I tell the clerk to verify it.
When I return wrong extra change.
When I pick a bill up off the ground and give it to the person who just lost it.

They do not expect honesty at all these days.

astonerii on March 17, 2014 at 6:02 PM

The look on his face when I put the “extra” soda on top of the machine was priceless.

Happy Nomad on March 17, 2014 at 5:35 PM

They do not expect honesty at all these days.

astonerii on March 17, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Yup. It mystifies them.

Fallon on March 17, 2014 at 6:06 PM

I think we did okay.

Fallon on March 17, 2014 at 5:21 PM

; ) Wish there were more like you Fallon.

Bmore on March 17, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Happy, healthy, moral.

Oxymoron on March 17, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Since you beat me to pithy…here is the Irish RedNeck version. Chuckle!

Raising kids is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Heck, still got a boat load to raise at my age and looking forward to the constant challenge as long as I am alive and kicking. You never stop raising and supporting the little buggers.

When the wife became a human PEZ dispenser and started punting out kids; I learned real quick our lives were about one thing…….raising the little monsters. Our kids became the center of our lives and all decisions were based on what is best for the kids. Just so happened what was best for the kids was best for us as well. Selfish parents will reap what they sow……yep, I learned that hard lesson along the way.

The wife and I laid out a “road map” for the kids and stuck with it. It’s hard, but that simple……you got to put in the time and keep the kids first. In May we will have been married 23 years and not a month has gone by that the wife did not want to call her divorce attorney…..who for some reason was on speed dial! Not saying it has been easy.

Summary………. it ain’t rocket science raising kids…..just hard work. Our family is mostly secular with the wife and youngest child being a Christian, and they are all darn good kids……unlike their dad!!

O/T, but in the same train of thought……..since I am not religious, do folks that are religious think my concept of right and wrong (when it comes to raising kids) is not moral or somehow not complete?

HonestLib on March 17, 2014 at 6:31 PM

I think we did okay.

Fallon on March 17, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Yeah, I’d say you did.

crankyoldlady on March 17, 2014 at 6:31 PM

Well these Prager videos certainly have coherence to them don’t they? Good thing I think.

This video at the end is basically saying to be selfless. This trait must be demonstrated to kids, not just talked about. To see others as Christ sees them is my prayer every day.

LaughterJones on March 17, 2014 at 6:31 PM

do folks that are religious think my concept of right and wrong (when it comes to raising kids) is not moral or somehow not complete?

Since you asked…

actually, I’m not the arbiter. Just somebody who believes that sin is much the same thing as self-centeredness. The more I see, the more I think that the root of all evil is putting oneself at the center of all moral decision-making processes. I put God there. Knowledge and service of God is almost the sole value in my life, for everything else flows from it, including the desire to teach my kids to live the same way.

It is primarily done by example. So, my response to you is that your determination to not be selfish and put the kids first is an example of selflessness for them to live by. So, I would call it moral. As to complete, that is a question that both you and your kids must explore for yourselves.

Xasprtr on March 17, 2014 at 6:42 PM

This post is sooooo raaaaaacist.

Nutstuyu on March 17, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Obama is a perfect example of bad parenting. The Bieber kid is another one. Parenting isn’t for whimps. These kids that go wrong don’t have a strong base to stand on.

crankyoldlady on March 17, 2014 at 6:51 PM

Xasprtr on March 17, 2014 at 6:42 PM

What a great response and I much appreciate the thought you put into it. Good things for me to ponder. Thanks so much!

HonestLib on March 17, 2014 at 7:13 PM

Years ago I was in a grocery line when I overheard a woman behind me remark to her friend, “I’ve got two kids. One makes me proud. The other keeps me humble.”

Those words helped get me through some trying times with my own humbling kid.

ncinca on March 17, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Dad: “So Johnny, you want to be like President Obama when you grow up, huh?”

Johnny: “Obama?…..chaw right Dad…and monkeys’ll fly out of my butt. I wanna be cool like President Putin man, having the world fear me, and taking off my shirt all the time and having chicks dig my macho swagger. Obama..he let’s Moochelle walk all over him.”

KirknBurker on March 17, 2014 at 7:43 PM

Uh….none of your damn business

MoreLiberty on March 17, 2014 at 7:51 PM

Xasprtr on March 17, 2014 at 6:42 PM

Good answer :)

Cheshire_Kat on March 17, 2014 at 11:12 PM

Not indentured servants.

WryTrvllr on March 18, 2014 at 12:13 AM

HonestLib on March 17, 2014 at 6:31 PM

OK, Enough. I call BS. No way you’re a lib.

Libs:
1) don’t have kids
2) don’t understand delayed gratification
3) Never understand the concept of “tough love”

You, sir, are a poseur.

With that said:
Religion provides families, at the VERY minimum, a moral compass with which to teach their kids that they will be punished, eventually, for slaughtering a bunch of kindergartners. If you can accomplish this on your own, I say BRAVO. Can you respect my ability to teach my kids algebra in 8th grade and calculus by 12th without the need to send them to an education camp for 7 1/2 hours per day? (by the way, I don’t home school, but I will be home re-schooling, now that I have gone galt)

WryTrvllr on March 18, 2014 at 12:23 AM

do folks that are religious think my concept of right and wrong (when it comes to raising kids) is not moral or somehow not complete?

Since you asked…

actually, I’m not the arbiter. Just somebody who believes that sin is much the same thing as self-centeredness. The more I see, the more I think that the root of all evil is putting oneself at the center of all moral decision-making processes. I put God there. Knowledge and service of God is almost the sole value in my life, for everything else flows from it, including the desire to teach my kids to live the same way.

It is primarily done by example. So, my response to you is that your determination to not be selfish and put the kids first is an example of selflessness for them to live by. So, I would call it moral. As to complete, that is a question that both you and your kids must explore for yourselves.

Xasprtr on March 17, 2014 at 6:42 PM

Well put. I think most immorality is selfish, and the epitome of good is to do for others.

I believe this is why the root of the moral code given by Jesus is to love one another. Easy to say, hard to do.

But love in this sense is not some kind of warm feeling, but to choose to put someone else ahead of yourself.

In the right kind of marriage, the husband loves the wife, and the wife in turn loves her husband. Both love their children. And when love means not just “have romantic feelings toward,” but “put her — or him — ahead of yourself,” then a marriage will last. And the single root cause of most divorces is selfishness on one side or both sides.

Obviously, not all marriages or families meet that standard. But when they do, children are probably going to turn out well.

I remember as a single man acting occasionally as an usher in church, and noticing that when you hand something out in a church service, the children would just take it without a second thought, but the parents would usually make sure each child was taken care of before worrying about their own. And this was so commonplace that nobody noticed it.

We’re all naturally selfish. One of the blessings of having children is that you learn to think of someone else besides yourself.

There Goes the Neighborhood on March 18, 2014 at 12:57 AM

Are you resisting expected future attempts at government familial control, or are you saying that you don’t ever want any advice from anyone because you know everything anyone could possibly know about parenting?

(The way you worded it infers the latter, but I’m cutting you some slack) :)

itsnotaboutme on March 17, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Late answer, but, it’s mostly amoral liberals and psycho-babbling asshats I’m very resistant to, the gov’t thing. I definitely don’t know everything about parenting, but never did take well to unsolicited advice from people with their own parenting disasters under their belt. I’m done raising them now anyway so I don’t know just how bad it’s gotten. Judging from the quality of most young folk these days, I don’t think it’s going well.

….but I’m not going to be offering unsolicited advice ;P

Diluculo on March 18, 2014 at 2:55 AM