Dear fathers and mothers, you are within your rights to appreciate your virtuous children more; you should applaud and encourage their good qualities by perceptible signs of approval. This is a means of motivating them to greater virtue; it is a holy and necessary emulation. A successful state must heap opprobrium upon crime and rewards upon good actions; your own family, which is a republic of brotherhood, ought to follow the same principles. I shall therefore never consider wise anyone who sees with the same eye a child who is innocent and truthful and one who is wily and unruly.


But be wary of flattering excessively qualities which are purely gratuitous gifts of nature; never hold in disdain that son or daughter whom the Lord has in his wisdom deprived of grace and beautiful features which might have been the cause their undoing. What is deserving of praise is goodness of heart and not the fragile beauty which far too often tends to engender undue pride.


Cherish your virtuous children in order to incite those who are not to be become so; but never cause jealousies […] That is the ruination of families.


All the lessons of the most learned and most virtuous of teachers are nothing compared to what a good father says at the right moment: because a child knows and is never mistaken that the sole objective of his father is to work at making him happy and worthy of being happy.

[Ms 58 c]


About the text:


Firstly, note that this text is a single and extensive paragraph. We have separated it into four in pursuit of clarity.

The first paragraph begins with a striking sentence, because Andre Coindre says that you are between your rights to “appreciate more” some children than others. This idea clashes with our current ideology. However, if we read the whole paragraph, it is clear what it means: goodness and evil are not the same thing, we should appreciate more the former and discourage the latter. As we have seen in other texts, our Founder doesn’t reject the positive stimuli (prizes and awards) in education and for the development of a nation. What are the positive stimuli that we normally use with our children?

The second paragraph is of great beauty and points out what we should encourage and praise in children: the ·”goodness of heart”. He invites us not to remain in superficial grace, but to look deeper. The superficial charms can even be harmful because they tend to engender pride and lead us to destruction. What do we praise in our children?

The third paragraph is incomplete, but the little that is preserved helps us to understand its general idea, which completes the previous two: we must not encourage a superficial virtue, but a virtue of heart. We must no cause jealousies between the children because this ruins the family. Can we show our children that everyone is equally loved even if there are attitudes that some of them should improve?

The fourth paragraph says that the word of a father is more valuable than the word of any wise man, because it comes from someone who loves him. How many times do we congratulate our children for the good things they do?

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