Building Strong Families Through
Spiritual Wellness:

VALUES ARE CAUGHT MORE OFTEN THAN THEY ARE TAUGHT

Charles Beckert tells this story: When Johnny was six-years-old he was with his father and they were caught speeding. The father handed the police officer a five-dollar bill with his driver's license. "It's okay, son," the father said as they drove off, "everybody does it."

When he was eight he was permitted at a family council presided over by Uncle George on the surest means to shave points off the income tax return. "It's okay kid," the uncle said, "everybody does it."

When he was nine his mother took him to his first theater production. The box office man couldn't find any seats until his mother discovered an extra two dollars in her purse and bribed him. "It's okay son," she said, "everybody does it."

When he was twelve he broke his glasses on the way to school. His Aunt Francine convinced the insurance company they had been stolen and collected 27 dollars [it's an old story]. "It's okay, kid," she said, "everybody does it."

When he was 15 he was right guard on the high school football team. His coach showed him how to block and at the same time grab the opposing end so the officials couldn't see it. "It's okay kid," he said, "everybody does it."

When he was 16 he took his first summer job at the big market. His assignment: to put the overripe tomatoes in the bottom of the boxes, the good ones on top where they would show. "It's okay, kid," the manager said, "everybody does it."

When he was 18 Johnny and a neighbor applied for a college academic scholarship. Johnny was a marginal student. The neighbor was in the upper three percent of his class. The neighbor couldn't play right guard. Johnny got the assignment and the scholarship. "It's okay," the university told him.

When he was 19 he was approached by an upperclassman who offered the test answers for three dollars. "It's okay, kid, everbody here does it."

Johnny was caught, expelled, sent home in disgrace. "How could you do this to your mother and me?" his father asked. "You never learned anytyhing like that at home." His aunt and uncle were also shocked. "If there's one thing the adult world can't stand it's a kid who cheats."

Beckert continues [paraphrased]: "Now I say values are caught more often than taught. We must send direct signals of what we value. We can't hide behind the fact that I'm older and you're younger therefore I have a right to violate my values."

Source: Beckert, Charles (1988). Strategies for Successful Families. Audiotape recording. Covenant Recordings, Inc.


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