Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chp 7 - How To Nurture the Adolescent Moral Self

My notes from Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students. Very, very good book. This is a good chapter although there are many in this book.

To be authentic, spiritual caregivers must begin by acknowledging that there is no fail-proof method for making an adolescent develop the moral self we desire. Spiritual caregivers, if they are honest with themselves, realize this foundational truth - adults are not ultimately in control of the process of an adolescent's moral development.

Three Rs of moral development:
relationship, reasoning and responsibility taking
spiritual caregivers can take responsibility for:
- discerning deficits that disable the adolescent's moral maturity
- partnering with God in praying with and nurturing those areas of need
- creating environments that will foster maturity of the adolescents moral self

relationship - the tractor-beam of attachment
All persons will find ways to attach themselves to others - even if it requires violating a previously held moral conviction. Once an adolescent chooses compromise, a negative cycle of moral disintegration is set in motion. Over time, the compromising behaviors have a way of reshaping beliefs; the inconsistency between conviction and behavior often leads to a rationalized change in conviction.
Authentic spiritual attachment with God and his people, in fact, is the only love that can overcome the powerful enticements of postmodern pseudo-attachments.

reasoning - the why behind the boundaries
When two-year olds say no, they are finding out that they are separate human beings from their parents, with separate wills and separate opinions. Though most Christian parents have been trained to balk at this concept, it is our job to help them to develop a strong no. They are going to need a strong when they are fourteen years old and someone wants to be sexually intimate with them or shoves a bottle of alcohol in their hand. Our job is to recognize opportunities for them to exercise their no - not to strip them of their will in the name of maintaining authority as a parent. - Jeff VanVonderen _Families Where Grace Is In Place_

Families and ministry environments that clearly establish boundaries in connection with attachment create the best possible environment for the formation of a mature moral self.

The greater the boundary deficit in an adolescent's life, the greater the need for consistent guidance and feedback from a spiritual caregiver.

Adolescence is the greenhouse for the growth of healthy moral minds capable of withstanding the harsh elements of a sensate culture.

responsibility taking - rooted in personal value and efficacy
With identity formation in high gear, the need to feel successful, to enjoy achievements, and to be celebrated takes on epic proportions.
Students who fail to gain an emerging sense of value and efficacy thus have the double damnation of not being able to accept themselves and not being hopeful that they can choose to be anyone different.

The Intersection of the three Rs
From Moral Belief to Moral Action
1 - What do I believe - A sense of moral conviction is involved - it would be wrong to keep money that was not mine
2 - Am I responsible for acting on that belief in this situation? - sense of moral responsibility - I should give back the hundred dollars I found
3 - What will I choose to do based upon my belief - An ideological moral commitment provides guidance - tomorrow I am going to turn in the money
4 - What do I do at the moment when a behavioral response is required? - moral choice is made - When I hand the wallet, I include the money

Restoration - case study - travis and sarah
pay attention to relational deficits
invest in the development of executive skills that may need to be strengthened (competencies required to turn moral commitments into moral choices)
communication, time management, delayed gratification, goal setting, managing emotions

I loved that quote about helping kids develop a strong no. It's a good one huh?

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