From diapers to dating by debra haffner

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That is why thinking about how to raise spiritually healthy children should be a goal for all parents, not just those who practice a religion themselves.Faith is not the same as subscribing to a specific set of beliefs or religious teachings or participating in a faith-based community. [I]n the long run of a child’s life, the unselfconscious moments that are what we think of simply as the unfolding events of the day and the week turn out to be the really powerful and persuasive times, morally.” How we respond to the “big questions” that children ask is part of their faith development.Mensch is a Yiddish word that literally means “a human being,” but it implies a person with a strong moral character.Leo Rosten, in , said a mensch is “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character.” The key to being a real mensch, he continues, is “nothing less than character: rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.” What does it take to raise a mensch?

Parents want children to be healthy, happy, successful, and safe, but the core of what many of us want most is for our children to be “nice”: We want them to be kind, decent human beings who are compassionate and empathic. The Search Institute, an organization devoted to adolescent well-being, uses the term thriving to refer to a teen who “not only grows and flourishes as an individual, but also contributes to family, community, and society.” They write that “thriving youth show evidence not only of the absence of negative behaviors but also of indicators of positive development, such as school engagement, commitment to helping others, positive adult relationships, self-esteem, overcoming adversity, and valuing diversity.” They may not use this word, but I think they are talking about mensches.

At its best, it has taken the form of serenity and courage and loyalty and service; a quiet confidence and joy which enable one to feel at home in the universe, and to find meaning in the world and in one’s own life, a meaning that is profound and ultimate, and is stable no matter what may happen to oneself at the level of immediate event.

Men and women of this kind of faith face catastrophe and confusion, affluence and sorrow, unperturbed; face opportunity with conviction and drive; and face others with cheerful charity.

They want to know why the sky is blue, where the flowers come from, why that man is in a wheelchair, where they were before they were born, and why pets and people have to die.

They can seem endlessly curious about the world around them.

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