Ethics requires courage

As a Humanist parent, like all parents, I want my son to succeed. More importantly, my hope is that he will become ethically courageous. I know that he will be well served if he can become confident in himself. 

Whether it is dealing with bullies or doing the right thing in a difficult situation, the problem seems to be one of confidence. If they are confident in themselves, they will have the courage they need to stand up and be ethical.

The problem with this is that teaching kids to be confident doesn’t help them. That is because confidence isn’t something you can teach. It has to be earned. The real question we should be asking is how to encourage kids, and adults for that matter, to learn the skills they need so that they can overcome the challenges they face so that they can become confident as individuals. The answer is in the root of encourage. And that is courage.

With my son, our biggest challenge is to get him to try. He has fears and in order to teach him new skills, we have to help him overcome those fears. Even learning to ride a bicycle required him to overcome the fear of falling. Our job is to help him find the courage to try and try again until he succeeds. As he succeeds, he gains confidence.

The same holds true to being an ethical person. The will to be good is there. The challenge is to be courageous enough to stand up for what is right. There are no shortcuts that work.

Part of being a Humanist is to choose to live life courageously. We don’t expect things to be easy. We expect to have to work to overcome the challenges we all face in life. So don’t focus on helping your child to be confident. Help them to be courageous instead. Having courage will serve them better throughout the course of their lives than being overly confident will.

How do you find courage? How do you help your child overcome his or her fears to become courageous? 


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