Several of my books have b een received by friends and customers. I have some initial comments that address common themes. All say that the subject needs to be addressed. Comments such as “we really need this now” and “children seem to lack common decency and ethics” are often stated. Many folks blame the parents, but I do not get a sense that they blame themselves.
I gave a talk last night to the PTO at the Ebert Polaris Elementary School. My son, Erik, made a video tape of the presentation. I will try to upload some video in the next few days. The points that resonated most with the audience included the following: that parents are up against the world in competing for influence with their children. The competition is all around them and it is unrelenting. Parents are fighting to establish credibility and their powers of moral persuasion. Thus, parents need a good product. They need to establish credibility and the best way to establish credibility is through character and reason.
Another point that impressed the audience is that children look up to their parents as their heroes. Children may not act that way, but hundreds have told me so. Children want moral guidance from parents. They expect it. They resent it when moral guidance is not forthcoming. Children do not look to athletes and movie stars for moral authority. Even young children know those people are remote and tangential to their lives. They know that many of those stars do not live lives that should be emulated.
We learned in school that Nature abhors a vacuum. It’s true. And a parental vacuum, particularly a moral vacuum, will be filled by other sources and influences instantly. One solution is to talk to your children. Keep talking. Keep asking their opinions about things and infuse those conversations with moral themes and lessons. My book does not offer answers. It is not a book that has solutions to all of mankind’s problems. At best, it offers guidance on how to reason in general and how to reason virtuously in specific. My book offers arguments and teaches how to evaluate the comparative merits of arguments and of actions and of thoughts, especially in a moral context.
I travel to New York City tomorrow morning. I will join Elise on a drive to gorgeous Manchester Vermont and give my talk at the Northshire Bookstore. I am enthused about the trip. The Northshire is one of the most prestigious bookstores in the nation. It is an homor to be invited.