Noah's Term Paper
By Michael Josephson of CHARACTER COUNTS (934.3)
Noah really needed an 'A' on a term paper. His friend
Jason tells him that lots of kids "recycle" papers they
don't write and offers to give him a paper his older
brother got an 'A' on three years ago. When Noah asked
his for advice, his father hoped his son wouldn't cheat
but he didn't want to be judgmental so he said, "Son,
it's your life, I can't tell you what you should do.
It's a personal decision."
I think that's shabby parenting. Noah's dad declined to
provide moral guidance and lost an opportunity to
strengthen Noah's values, and his own credibility as a
reference point. Kids need parents to bolster their
moral will power to resist temptations. His reluctance
to actively intervene and influence is an abdication of
What's more, his noncommittal response is not an
expression of moral neutrality but a statement that
conveys the moral judgment that honesty and integrity
True, this is a personal decision. Noah has the power;
he can choose to be honest or dishonest, ethical or
unethical - it's his call. But the real question is one
of propriety: he didn't ask his dad "What can I do?"
but "What should I do?" This is a question about ethics
and it can't be dodged or evaded.
If we want our children to build good values and a
strong character based on virtue we have to be willing
to teach and advocate those virtues. Sometimes that
means saying, "That's wrong!"
Brenda Clark Pike
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