Growing Kids God’s Way – Part 5

Within the next chapter the author explores the idea of a conscience. In this setting the author defines a conscious as the part of the mind that decides what’s right or wrong. Gary divides the conscience into two main sections – the moral conscience and the primary conscious. He believes that god gives all of mankind a inner sense of right and wrong. This inner innate sense of right and wrong he terms the primary conscious. This is the very conscious that Christians and Gary Ezzo point at when reading Romans 2:14-15. The learned or trained portion of the conscious Gary terms the moral conscious.

The author then focuses the rest of the chapter on the moral conscious, which he divides into four points.

  1. Establishing the moral warehouse.
    • Within Gary Ezzo’s mind this moral conscious needs to be trained. This initially comes from scriptural instruction from the child’s parents and from the family church.
  2. The four activities of the conscience. Gary states these activities of the consciences are split into two positives and two negatives.
    • The negative aspects are to warn and accuse.
      • He also lumps guilt into this. As he feels that if you have been trained correctly you will feel guilt for your moral transgressions.
    • The positives aspects he states are prompts and confirms.
      • Ezzo feels that your conscious will confirm within you when you do something right.
    • The odd part for me here is that Gary acknowledges that trains plays a role in when we feel guilt or “accusation.” But within the same section he states that the “feeling of confirmation” is “God’s pat on the back.”
  3. Moral Search Mechanism.
    • Gary propositions that our conscience searches through the biblical morals we have been taught to know how to respond to situations in our life.
    • He gives an odd example here of a situation were an old man enters a room and there are no available seats. He states that someone that has been taught the “value of respecting age” would immediately recognize that this was an apt situation for that moral to apply. The person would stand and give the old man the chair. He then states if someone has not been taught this value they will ignore the old man and continue to sit.
      • I do want to interject here. Empathy is a real human trait. We can see, hear, and feel other’s pain and suffering. Empathy for a elderly human who is in discomfort would also be a real reason for someone to act and offer a chair to this person. A straight easy biblical moral answer or value is not always needed in order to show someone love or compassion.
  4. Positive and Prohibitive Training
    • The author states positive and negative feedback MUST be given to the child in order to develop a proper conscience. This is envisioned as being primarily negative at younger ages (examples in the book are age 2 and 3) and moving slowly towards positive feedback.
      • The author describes prohibitive training as “Warning, restrictions, punishment, and consequences, and is used more commonly in the early years.”
      • “Positive training includes instructions, encouragement, and reinforcement and takes place predominately in the middle and upper years.”
        • It’s made very clear that author does not believe this type of positive training starts until the child is older. With the author giving an example of them openly mocking a parent who tries this with a two year old.
    • “As Becky’s conscience continues to develop and her understanding of family relationships deepens, her parents gradually shift from negative consequence and restrictive training to positive and proactive training. Becky is now learning many moral truths. The emphasis is not only on what she shouldn’t do, but also on what she should do.” p94
      • Becky is the example child’s name in his child development scenario.
      • This this quote quite clearly lays how the author plans for a child to be reared. First punitive punishments like spankings or swats are used to control the child’s behavior. Then as the child grows older the parents are then more apt to use more logical ways to reason with a child.
        • I hope my discomfort comes across here. Gary Ezzo has already made it clear that the first method of training will be punitive. Punishment and pain are to be the main teaching tools in a child’s early life.

Gary then moves on to taking about a healthy and unhealthy conscience. He states that parents must provide their children with training that motivates them to do good things because it is morally right rather than out of fear of punishment. All of this sounds wonderful, but please be reminded Gary just finished a short section on why punitive punishment was needed to motivate children. I feel that he’s laying a poor foundation for his own goals here.

If anyone is reading this I appreciate you sitting through all of the craziness, and though all of Gary Ezzo’s odd made up phrases with convoluted meanings. It’s been good for me to do this and a bit cathartic in a way. I can see why my parents would have bought into this. The wording and fundamentalist views that are foundational to this man’s teachings would have drawn my parents right in. And my parents wanted to raise us (their children) in a way that they never experienced, a truly biblical way. Gary boldly and openly offers this solution to how to raise your children in a Christian way and people certainly listened.

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