We’ve all heard the expression, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” which urges us to look beyond the surface to determine what lies within the pages. The character trait of discernment also means looking beyond the obvious to understand why things happen. Considering the cause-and-effect relationship between our actions and their consequences helps us make good choices, whether we are five or 50. As parents, if we can discern the reasons why children act the way they do, we can commend the inward attitudes that produce outward achievement.
Bobcats rely on their ability to hunt to survive. When a bobcat is stalking an animal, it has only one chance to catch its prey. Although bobcats weighing up to 30 pounds have been reported, average bobcats are closer to 15 to 20 pounds. They usually survive on rabbits, but have been known to hunt small deer, lambs, and even pigs. Bobcats use their keen senses of sight and hearing along with previous hunting experience to discern what their prey will do next. Patience and attention to detail help the bobcat capture dinner.
Playing “Secret in a Sack” will provide a few minutes of family fun and reinforce the skills of attentiveness and asking insightful questions. Select an object and place it in a brown paper bag without letting the other family members know what it is. Then let each person ask a question about the object and guess what it is. Take turns asking questions until someone gets the right answer. Choose the object and structure the game to suit your children’s ages and abilities. Young children will do best with a familiar object; teens will enjoy something less obvious.
Riddles can also help develop discernment. Here are a couple of favorites:
- Railroad crossing, watch out for the cars. Can you spell that without any Rs? (answer: t-h-a-t)
- As I was going to LaBrids, I met a man with seven kids. Each kid had seven sacks, each sack had seven cats. Each cat had seven kittens. Kits, cats, sacks, and kids. How many were going to LaBrids? (answer: one)
Read About Discernment
- In Helping Your Kids Make Good Choices, author Kendra Smiley uses biblical teachings to offer parents guidance. Real life advice helps parents build a solid foundation for letting children make decisions.
- The Corner Kids series by Larry Brimner encourages young readers to listen, make thoughtful choices, and learn from their mistakes. In The Promise, Gabby has to decide if she will keep the promise she made to her grandmother or have fun with her friends. Using discernment, she may find a third option.
- William Bennett compiled a collection of fables, stories, and poems entitled The Book of Virtues for Young People: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories. Aimed at middle and high school students, the book includes classics from O. Henry, Emily Dickinson, and Victor Hugo to illustrate specific character traits.
I Will Statements
1. I will ask questions.
2. I will not judge hastily.
3. I will learn from experience.
4. I will not repeat mistakes.
5. I will trace problems to their causes.