We all want our children to be intelligent. In this article by the word “intelligent” we don’t mean the child’s capacity to count, read, or solve puzzles. We mean children’s ability to understand the difference between right and wrong, between good and evil. This is the kind of intelligence we wish our children to have.
Children are not born intelligent. They become as such by learning from adults. The learning process begins at birth. We smile to a baby and this teaches him that we accept and approve of him. We frown about a stain on a baby’s shirt and this teaches him that there are things in this world that may be disapproved of. At the beginning our intonation reflects what we think is good and bad. Then our intonation and words tell a child what we consider right or wrong. The more we live with a child the more he or she learns about our values. Yet, lots of things are still unfamiliar to the child; lots of concepts are not understood properly.
Often, we don’t have enough time; we let other people influence our child’s vision. A special role in this task is played by TV. It invades children’s minds with things that we often don’t want them to learn. Some movies, for example, show bank robbers, who successfully escape to Mexico with a bag of bucks, and they are portrayed as heroes. We enjoy the movie, but what is going on in the mind of our child? Lots of complaints are devoted to TV as the main source of impacting children’s behavior, but we are not going to discuss it now. We only want to ask ourselves: what can we do to resist negative influence around our children?
We can teach them to be intelligent. However, often we ourselves don’t know what to say when it comes to this kind of knowledge. Here is a brief hint for that. The knowledge we need is called ethics. It studies issues of goodness and evil. We think it is abstract and belongs to complicated conversations among grey-haired philosophers. However, these issues exist in our life every minute of our communication with children, every time we have to make a decision. We just don’t notice that and therefore we lose our chance to exercise our own intelligence.
Intelligence is the ability to differentiate between goodness and evil. Goodness is everything that increases human dignity. Evil is everything that decreases it. The border between goodness and evil is called the truth. The truth is that this border exists. Each action toward a man either increases the man’s dignity or decreases it.
Example. A fact that someone lies to me, and is willing to hide important information from me, makes me be indignant, it decreases my dignity. Another fact: someone tells me a funny story, trying to cheer me up. I know he lies, but his lie doesn’t hurt me, it doesn’t decrease my dignity. The difference is obvious: not the lie itself is good or evil, but the lie in relation to human dignity is. Again, the relation to human dignity is essential.
Intuitively we feel the difference. But it is important to articulate it, to make it explicit, because we want to teach our children to be intelligent, to know the difference between good and evil, to know the truth. Here is a boy. He is asking you: “Dad, mom, let me go to the party with friends!” “Well, son, if there are people around you who would not try to hurt you, decrease your dignity, then it is fine.
You must decide yourself which friends are your real friends, and which are not your friends at all. At the same time, be sure you don’t hurt anyone’s dignity as well. If someone would approach you with evil intentions, try not to respond back with evil. However, if you have to fight for the truth, then fight, but fight for the sake of goodness, to defend your or other people’s dignity. Life is all about this subject. However, we hope you have a good time there. Have fun and be careful!” If we constantly talk about this or similar themes, and from time to time remind our children about the difference between goodness and evil, we may hope that our children are learning to be intelligent.
An intelligent child gets his or her intelligence from us, adults. Before we teach our children to be intelligent we must be sure we have it ourselves. If we had to teach our child to solve mathematical problems and we are not math teachers we would never do this job for our child, we would rely on school teachers. However, who would we rely on to teach our child life’s intelligence? This job belongs only to parents. Unfortunately, most of us are not good teachers. Fortunately, we can always continue to study this vital knowledge.
In this article we talk about intelligence to live life with dignity, intelligence that leads to life’s wisdom. When we study math we learn first its concepts, we study definitions. As any knowledge, life’s intelligence also provides its definitions. The following is a brief definition of it.
Intelligence is the ability to differentiate between goodness and evil. Goodness is everything that increases human dignity. Evil is everything that decreases it. The border between goodness and evil is called the truth. The truth is that this border exists. Each action toward a man either increases a man’s dignity or decreases it.
How to test our intelligence? By asking every time whether we do good or evil things. While parenting our child let’s ask ourselves: “Do I do goodness or evil to my child? If I scold, reproach, yell at my child I must be aware, I must clearly realize that I decrease my child’s dignity. If I rebuke, threaten, swear at my child – I do evil. Let’s look at the truth without fear. Being malicious is equal to doing evil to my child.”
When we realize this truth we get rid of fear and guilt for being imperfect parents. We are learning. Intelligence doesn’t come overnight. Then another kind of guilt comes: the guilt before our child. And another fear comes: fear of pain from our conscience. Can you notice the difference? We are not afraid to be blamed for being bad parents, we are afraid of our remorse. We don’t depend on other people’s judgment, we depend on our conscience. We acquire our intelligence this way.
This is like studying math. At the beginning we are not sure if four plus three equals seven. We are confused and need a teacher who would tell us if we are right. After a lot work of counting we gain confidence that four plus three will give us seven. We don’t need a teacher anymore. The same is with life’s intelligence. After we become confident that we know the difference between goodness and evil – nobody can tell us what to do to make a right decision. Nobody can judge us and make us confused. We ourselves know the truth. We are becoming confident and intelligent.
We learn things easier by comparing them: cold and hot, good and evil… After we realize that we are doing evil to our child we want to stop it and do goodness. What should I do in order to do good? By definition, it means to increase my child’s dignity. There are lots of ways to do so. Begin with asking instead of commanding. Very powerful and gratifying is asking for forgiveness. Our apology, after honest realization of an evil act, is the most increasing our child’s dignity. Children are so kind and willing to forgive that we should learn from them. Other tools would list: being polite, respectful, helpful, creative, cheerful, optimistic and happy after all!
There are many good suggestions and advice available in parenting books. Though some of them may confuse or mislead us in our parenting, we still can be sure, that we are armed with knowledge, that we know the difference between good and evil. As in math there are lots of difficult problems in life. Sometimes there are no best answers at all. This makes it hard to come to the right decision. But by searching for the truth in every action toward our child, toward other people and toward ourselves we exercise our intelligence. After all this is our parental responsibility – to do goodness and stop doing evil to our children. Let’s strive for the truth and eventually they will learn the truth from us and become intelligent.