Instilling positive values in kids isn’t just parents’ job

To the editor:

In response to Mr. Turns’ letter, I am Mrs. Welham’s pastor, having known her for 12 years. I hold advanced degrees in theology and psychology, and directed a Christian school for seven years. I have worked with children, as has Mrs. Welham , for many years. When we are older, we hope there will be values inculcated in us that will guide us, such as Mr. Turns mentions.

As parents and educators, we know that when a child does something wrong punishment should not be delayed or the lesson will be lost; when they do something right, we reward them immediately. Especially with younger children, the more tangible the punishment or reward, the more likely it is to have effect, since children are very concrete in their thinking. As they grow, children need these reinforcements less and less as these values become habitualized traits of character.

Good character needs to be reinforced at home, at school, in church, and in the society at large. It is not “just the parent’s job” – Jesus never taught that. It is the work of all of us. I helped do some of the research underlying the Drug and Alcohol-Free Communities Act. One of our findings, which became part of the asset-based approach to working with children, was that it doesn’t matter where a child gets the “assets” so important in developing good character – school, home, church, family, neighbors – as long as they get them.

The more they are reinforced, the more likely the child will be to share these values. Schools touch the lives of our children every day, and should be seen as a primary place where good character is developed. I applaud Mrs. Welham and the school district for doing this most important work and for their care of our children, and hope all of us will help in the process of developing good character in the children of our community.

Pastor Gary Roth

St. John’s Lutheran Church