Families are strengthened when correct principles and good morals are taught, and parents can use stories, fables, and personal experiences to illustrate the principle or moral being taught. Children remember principles and morals better when they understand how to apply the teachings in their lives.
One of the stories included in Aesop's Fables is about an ant and a grasshopper. The ant worked hard all summer gathering food and preparing for winter. The grasshopper didn't think there was any reason to worry about winter when the sun was shining. The summer ended, and winter came. The grasshopper was dying from hunger when he noticed ants "distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer." Aesop concluded with this moral: "It is best to prepare for the days of necessity."
Of course, this fable would only work to teach children living in a free society where people are responsible to meet their own needs. In a Communist or socialist society, the ant's food would be taken from him and redistributed to the grasshopper.
Another story included in Aesop's Fables is about a goose that laid golden eggs. One morning when a "countryman" went to gather eggs, he found a solid gold egg in the goose's nest. Every morning he found a golden egg in the nest, and he grew rich by selling his eggs. He became greedy and didn't want to wait for the eggs so he killed the goose in order to get all the eggs at once. There were no golden eggs inside the goose, and the goose was dead. Moral: "Greed oft o'er reaches itself." In other words, don't get greedy or you might not have anything!
A story that teaches the importance of honesty is about a boy who called "wolf" too many times. The boy was hired to watch the villagers' sheep and was told that he only had to yell "wolf" for them to come running. One day while he was out with the sheep, he decided to test the "response system" and yelled "wolf!" The villagers came running to fight the wolf and were a little upset that the boy had misused the system. He thought it was exciting to see the villagers come running and yelled "wolf" again. Sure enough, the villagers came running again and were angry at the boy. The next time the boy yelled "wolf," the villagers hesitated but finally ran to help. The boy kept abusing the system, and the villagers grew tired of answering his calls. Then a real wolf came and started to attack the sheep. The boy called "wolf," and the villagers did not come. The boy called "wolf" again, and the villagers did not come. Eventually, someone came and found the sheep all dead. The boy wanted to know why no one came to help when he yelled "wolf" and was saddened to learn that the villagers couldn't tell the difference between a real call for help and the fake ones. Moral: If we want people to believe us when we say something, we have to always be honest.
One of Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales is about an emperor's new clothes. The emperor was so self-centered and materialistic that he could only think about his clothes and could usually be found in his dressing room. One day two swindlers came to town and "made people believe that they were weavers, and declared they could manufacture the finest cloth to be imagined. Their colours and patterns… were not only exceptionally beautiful, but the clothes made of their material possessed the wonderful quality of being invisible to any man who was unfit for his office or unpardonably stupid."
The emperor hired the two swindlers, and the swindlers proceeded with the project. They ordered the finest of silks and gold cloth and asked for money to buy necessary supplies; they pocketed the money and discarded the materials. Then they pretended to manufacture fabric for the emperor's new clothes. Several people observed the manufacturing process but didn't see any fabric. They didn't want people to think they were stupid or unfit for their office so they pretended to see the fabric and exclaimed about its beauty. Even the emperor went to see the fabric and pretended to see it. Eventually the day came when the emperor's new clothes were finished, and the emperor went with his attendants to receive them. None of the people could see the clothes, but all of them pretended to see them. The attendants all advised the emperor to wear the clothes in a great procession in order that everyone in town could see his new clothes.
The swindlers pretended to hold up the new clothes, the emperor pretended to dress, the chamberlains pretended to pick up the train, etc. All the adults in the town exclaimed about the emperor's beautiful clothes, but a little child was the only honest person in town. He cried out, "But he has nothing on at all." Once someone actually admitted that there was nothing there, everyone felt safe to agree. One by one the people were brave enough to join the child in saying, "But he has nothing on at all."
This story shows how bad it is to be politically correct and how important it is to have someone that is unwilling to just pretend. It also depicts the importance of not being so materialistic that we become fools.
Parents can choose from among many stories and fables to help teach correct principles and good morals. Families grow stronger as they learn, understand, and adopt correct principles and good morals.
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