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The Importance of Giving Your Kids a Moral Compass

Updated: Apr 15

Do you want to raise a child with a Strong Sense of Right and Wrong?

A moral compass helps provide an objective standard to help each of us define and address our ethical or moral weaknesses. In essence, a moral compass helps us define what kind of behaviour is right and wrong in our lives and often situations that test our moral fibre is what help make our moral compass stronger.

From our research and findings, numerous studies have shown that the key to raising moral children lies with the parents' sense of empathy and injustice. For example, without a moral compass, it's more likely that you will make decisions without thinking through the consequences of your actions. In addition, you'll likely be tempted to stretch the truth when it benefits you to do so. With a moral compass, you'll find it easier to resist temptation through principle-based decision making and or In other words, your choices will be based on values you hold to be true rather than on what's easiest to do in the moment.

So what is a moral compass?

If you go as far back as the teachings of Aristotle, a moral compass is simply the benchmark against which you can measure the “goodness” of your individual actions and your overall life.

For Aristotle, the definition of “good” was fluid – it meant living a life that allows one to flourish as a human being and have few regrets. Obviously, this definition isn’t the same for everyone.  A finely tuned moral compass can provide a set of core values that help guide your decisions throughout your life. Ideally, there is a balance between what’s good for you and what’s good for society as a whole. Although over time a person’s moral compass may evolve as it’s shaped by various religious, societal and experiential forces, it should retain some core principles – like seeking peace and integrity or causing no harm, for example.

The most important part of having a moral compass is using that moral compass.

If we develop a moral compass and then ignore its readings, it does us absolutely no good.

Reasons Why We Need a Moral Compass?

There are several benefits to having a well-defined moral compass.

Ground Your Identity

  • If you don’t know what you stand for and what your ethics and beliefs are, then it’s very difficult to make any moral choices at all, much less good ones. By establishing and following a set of moral values, you provide both yourself and your children with a sense of consistency. You’ll be less fickle or erratic when facing moral dilemmas because you can compare to past situations. With an unwavering moral standard, you can have a sense of absolute, rather than relative, right and wrong. 

  • Your moral compass can define a set of personal values that will guide your decision-making, especially in ethically fraught situations. Examples of personal and family values include traits like kindness, integrity, justice, dignity, family first, personal responsibility, and more. When you know which of your ethical values is the most important to you, this allows you to guide your behavior to support these virtues.

Protect the Greater Good

The greater good is protected by a commitment to moral values, such as justice, kindness and equity. Treating others with kindness and supporting equitable opportunities for all can help create a more inclusive and empowering society. The more we strive to improve the lives of others – even when they’re very different from ourselves – the more we are able to build a truly moral society.

Increase Self Confidence

People who know where they stand on various moral and ethical issues typically feel a higher sense of self-worth and self-confidence. They feel empowered to act according to that little voice inside their heads that guides them toward right and steers them away from wrong. There’s substantial evidence that people with a strong moral compass feel a higher sense of integrity, which leads to increased feelings of contentment, focus, grounding and purpose.

Be a Good Role Model

Many people begin to think more deeply about their moral compass and personal code of ethics the moment they begin the task of parenting. Most people want to be a good role model for their children, hoping to instill the ethical and moral framework that children need to be happy individuals and productive members of society. But you don’t have to be a parent to be a role model. You can also be a coach, a teacher, a mentor, or a faith community leader – and each of these leadership positions requires you to understand your own values and ethical stances so that you can guide the development of others.

Foster Healthy Relationships

People with a strong moral compass typically have healthier relationships and enjoy closer companionship with those around them and with their own children. They are able to minimise harm and maximise positive contributions they make within society. Some may even argue that the ability to put others’ needs in front of your own is what provides the very essence of humanity, which leads to healthier individual relationships and a stronger, more connected bond with your children.

Have you ever wondered what will your children use to guide them through their days away from you and whether this are peers, social media, or are they equipped with their own moral compass? As they embark on their life journey from being a toddler into adulthood, every day, our children face any number of culture-induced or immoral decisions. Every day, our kids face any number of moral dilemmas:

  1. Should I tell the truth?

  2. Should I copy from my friend’s homework, or let him copy from mine?

  3. Should I treat a classmate with kindness?

Have you thought you may want to start by cultivating your own morality—as well as your own empathy?

Young children probably won’t use the words moral dilemma to describe these scenarios, but they do understand that some decisions are harder than others, and that some choices are better than others. As children get older, they understand the pressure to conform to an immoral culture—a culture with challenges not faced by previous generations.

As parents, we want to raise our children to make moral choices that will lead them toward honorable, successful lives. Can we help them build a moral compass that gives them a sense of direction when faced with life’s difficult decisions?

The Importance of Having a Moral Compass: Learning from Fighter Pilots

Fighter pilots sometimes experience a phenomenon known as vertigo. When this happens, a pilot can become disoriented as to how fast and high he is going. If he relies on his sensations or memory, he may lose control of the aircraft. But one thing will not lie to the pilot are his instruments. His instruments help him determine his orientation and speed so he can safely control the plane.

We at TTI like using this example because it illustrates two key components of truth and morality:

  1. First, when we’re confused about what to do, a standard does exist, something that helps us recognize up from down, right from wrong. 

  2. Second, that moral standard is necessarily outside our own feelings and intuition. The very concept of morality means that the standard of truth comes from a higher authority—beyond just the rules or habits of our culture.

When your child was born, do you remember looking at a child and searching for any resemblance he or she might have from either you and or your partner? You could be wondering, does he/she have my partners eyes and my nose or is the image of his/hers grandfather from two generations back. Certainly you felt, there is something about having a child who looks like you and feels very honouring. This alone is a fundamental principle that we need to continually model for our children and its one they can return to when life's decisions seems complicated.

Same goes for when our children are unfamiliar with principles, they are more likely to make poor choices. Could this be due to:

  1. Didn't have a support system that encouraged them to do right?

  2. What kind of friends they have and whether those friends encouraged them or they steered them away from the path?

If we want our children to make good choices in life, we need to help them regularly and it is our job to help them discover that asset of themselves that holds them back from greatness and to give them the tools and the experience of breaking through to the next stage of their development. That requires us to 'push' them in all kinds of ways and consult the 'manual' which will give them the wisdom to discern right from wrong when life's choices seem unclear.

Children have an easy time understanding power, especially how things won’t work without a proper supply. Flashlights require batteries, cars are useless without fuel and or empty batteries and dark rooms are illuminated by electric lights. And just as these things need power to function, humans also need a power source (beyond food and water, of course).

Don't let your children forget that they have the strength to forge resilience and mental toughness to succeed as well as understand that mind can be either a feisty friend or friendly ally. Resilience means that they can bounce back quickly from any set back, whether physical, mental or emotional. Like mental toughness, resiliency (be it physical, mental or emotional) is a skill that can be trained and out of the three, it is emotional resiliency that is the most challenging to take on.

Emotional resiliency takes patience and courage to develop and if friends can influence ability to make good decisions, can media do the same? If we’re not actively involved in our children media choices, they can become bombarded by lies that will affect their ability to make good decisions.

But we must also help them recognise how media can influence their moral choices.

We at TTI believe that an important first step is to show our children how media (if they are at a stage where media is allowed on their daily screen time) incompletely or inaccurately portray consequences for poor choices as lack of connection between behaviour and consequences. These consequences gradually affects the way young people view certain behaviours in real life thus a sound moral compass can help them strike the right balance in their life between reason and emotion, practicality and idealism, and their needs as well as those of others.

In other words, a moral compass can guide you and your children toward what you ought to do in a given situation, not just what you want to do or even what others want you to do.

The strength of your moral compass helps define your character, which determines how people choose to interact with you and same goes for your children.

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