Morality and Childrearing


By Richard Kieninger


A frequently expressed philosophy concerning the rearing of children is that a parent or teacher should not impose his morality or goals upon a child because this would allegedly hamper the natural emergence of the child’s innate godliness. This concept has been cyclically in vogue for thousands of years, and at least one generation has to be ruined in the process of disproving it. One of the more notorious experiments along these lines was conducted by an Indian potentate who gathered many babies together into a spacious apartment in his castle and had them reared without a word being spoken to them by the nurses and servants assigned to care for them. In this way, he reasoned, the children would not be contaminated by the errors and corruptions of the world, and they would never be thwarted by punishment or harshness. Thereby the true propen­sities of the pure, unfettered human soul would come forth in its pristine perfec­tion and demonstrate to the world the divine intention of the Creator. The dumb, snarling, vicious animals who survived this noble experiment after twenty years were totally amoral, asocial, unkempt and hostile; and finally after attempts to civilize them and teach them language failed, they were put to death as incorrigible criminals.


The civilizing of each succeeding generation requires that the elders care­fully transmit to the young the best which has been evolved by the society. There is no intrinsic morality in a child, because he must be able to adapt with­out prejudice to the diverse cultures into which the Ego can incarnate. There is no universal language, because any set of aural symbols will serve to convey mental concepts. There is no intrinsic goodness in the behavior of a child. The Egoic mechanism of conscience serves to make the child conform to the social structure into which he has incarnated. A child must be carefully imbued with morals and goals; otherwise he is not likely to develop any on his own. The phrase, “and a little child shall lead them,” does not refer to the theory that children should be allowed to evolve their own social behavior patterns; for children are naturally cruel and selfish among their peers if adults have not imposed higher standards and rules of fair play. The parent who expects to be led to more refined concepts by following spiritual mouthings of babes is deliv­ering himself into the hands of young tyrants. The burden of responsibility rests upon adults to discern the best of social organization to pass along to their offspring. It is not good enough that we merely pass along the philosophy and behavior we inherited from our forefathers. It is incumbent upon us that we extract only the better ways and discard the worst in order to uplift society. We as parents cannot karmically escape our responsibility for how our children turn out.


I am appalled at the number of educated people who proclaim that they cannot, in fairness to their child’s rights of self-determination, impose their goals upon the youngster. The parents admit that they do not know the ultimate answers to the questions of existence, and so they feel it is better that the child not be exposed to the suspect ideals, goals and prejudices of perplexed parents. The new result of this “fairness” is that the child is deprived of standards upon which to anchor his own morality. He has no goals to inspire him and carry him over the rough spots, and he suspects that his parents do not care what he does or believes. When the defiant youngster encounters an outsider who is strong and confident in his philosophy, the youngster will probably follow him; and if the outsider lives the “drug life,” then the undirected child will likely adopt it since he has not been given good cause not to. The parent who says with obvious liberality that he will not impose his religion upon his child, since the child should have free will in choosing his own creed after he has attained maturity, shouldn’t be surprised when his youngster grows up without a reli­gion or embraces some wild paganism.


The parent who has firm convictions in a philosophy which meets his needs will serve his children well by imparting that philosophy to them. The sense of legitimacy of a philosophy thus presented to the child encourages him to try to embrace it and live up to it. The feelings of worth engendered in the child by his adhering to an external discipline affords priceless attitudes of purpose, direction, accomplishment and belonging. What the parents’ personal philo­sophical discipline may be is almost immaterial in achieving this beneficial re­sponse in the child. Nevertheless, as Benjamin Franklin advised, one should live his philosophy passionately and follow his belief with integrity, but one should be willing to change his philosophy when better ideas come along and then follow those with integrity. In short, “to thine own self be true.”


It is obvious that the closer a parent’s philosophy runs to the ultimate reality of the universe the more beneficial that philosophy will be to guide him and his child’s course through life. The civilization which operates closest to the Truth will continue to develop itself toward greater accuracy in its view of life, and it can more effectively perceive any perversions in its life style so as to better eliminate detractions to the Egoic advancement of succeeding generations.


Civilization must be taught to children. Whatever omissions the parent is guilty of, he is indeed responsible for. If the offspring whom the parent un­leashes upon the world is a danger to it or a drag upon society rather than of benefit, there are karmic repercussions that accrue to the parents. To rear a child properly requires much effort. On the other hand, to not instill character and purpose in one’s child on the grounds that to do so imposes upon the free will of the child amounts to avoidance of responsibility.