Psychology's concept of education contrasts sharply with that of Duikers (see the previously section, "Liberty and Justice for All"). The psychologist asks: What happens to a child whose parents and educators deliberately chose not to educate him to a pre-determined set of values, in keeping with Dr. Duikers recommendations?
Such a child grows up with no yardstick by which to evaluate the world around him. He can never be confident that he knows how to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil. When temptation comes his way, there is no reason for him to withstand it with determination and resolve. His conscience may prick him, but he cannot take a clear-cut, determined stance, because according to what he has been taught, it may be that it's not even true that an act is wrong. He's never been actually taught how to determine whether an action is wrong and should be avoided, even if it is very tempting. No one stands up for a principle he is not even sure is right.
In the book "Man in Search of Meaning," author-psychologist Dr. Victor Frankl states that most neuroses and emotional problems arise from the fact that, as a child, the patient lacked solid, well-defined values. When a child knows that he has done the right thing, he gains confidence in himself. He knows what is right and what is not. His doubts are not in the realm of what is good and what is not, but in the realm of action: What should I do in this case? If he succeeds in doing what he knows to be right, no matter how hard it is, he can then pat himself on the shoulder and say, "Good for you!" And if he did not manage to do so, he will be ashamed of himself, even if no one else is aware of his failure.
This process molds man's personality. Such a person can say to himself: "I can be proud of myself; I am capable of ruling over my passions and desires; I can control myself. I know my own true value.
In contrast, all established values are repeatedly held up from scrutiny, and stamped with a question mark to indicate that they are of dubious value. In this case, the child – and also the adult – is deprived of the satisfaction of knowing that he has withstood temptation and done the right thing. The fact of the matter is that there is a most significant discrepancy between the approach of the philosopher and that of the psychologist. Philosophy claims that it is not right to educate the child to a fixed set of values, because, as it sees things, no one can ever be absolutely certain that his value set is valid. In contrast, the psychologist declares that if the child grows up without a well-defined set of values, he is in trouble. There is no way for him to gain confidence in himself, and a person who lacks self-confidence has a major problem facing him.
Dr. Frankl goes so far as to state that even if the child grew up with the wrong values, but he, did, indeed, have a code of ethics to help him distinguish between right and wrong, he is better off than the child who was deprived of any value system whatsoever. This opinion is a natural corollary of the fact that Dr. Frankl is a psychologist, not a preacher or an ethicist. His concern is the development of the child's personality, not in his moral training. In short, he judges by how the child will manage, as an adult, in this world, rather than the next world.
In other words, an emotionally healthy, independent child will grow into a mature adult only if his parents meet their responsibility to educate him to solid, clearly-defined values. It is not sufficient to "develop his full potential" or to see to it that he develop the skills he needs to make his own decisions. A healthy child can be raised only by parents who are fully aware of their duty and their right to educate their child to an explicit set of values.
Professor Duikers acknowledges all this. In his opinion, there is a severe problem facing today's educators due to the lack of a value system. He justifies his approach with an odd claim of being loyal to the virtue of intellectual honesty. According to his theory, there will always be the possibility that the parents' values are not correct; consequently it would not be "honest" to pass them on to the next generation. He admits that there is a devastating lack of values in modern society, but rather than suggesting that we try to fill that gap, he prefers to reject all inherited values lest a portion of them be erroneous.
Autocracy is not endorsed by Judaism. Our children are not compelled to submit to the authority of their elders just because, as children, they are younger, weaker, less informed or experienced. In short, it is not because Father is more powerful or wiser that the child must submit to his discipline, but simply because the Creator has commanded us to "Honor thy father and thy mother."
What obligates the child to hold his parents in awe? Again, it is the Creator's command: "Each man shall fear his mother and his father." When training their child to show them deference, the parents are not teaching him to fulfill their orders arbitrarily. Rather, they are teaching him how to fulfill G-d's will. The obligation for the fulfillment of these commands falls on the parents no less than upon the child. The authority of the parent is a corollary of the authority of the Creator who fashioned both parent and child and placed them in this world. The two generations are equally obligated to fulfill His will. The parent does not ask the child to fulfill any facet of the commandment which does not obligate them both. A child should honor his parents because this is the best mode of conduct for both the child and the parent.
This is the method of the psychologist, as described above. It shows the parent how to build his child's personality and to mold it, so that he is able to achieve maturity and independence as an adult. In this manner, the parent builds a system of values by which the child will be able to judge between good and evil, right and wrong. The child gains his values directly from his parents when they tell him what to do and what not to do. Also, he observes his parents' conduct and learns indirectly from their deeds. The parents serve as a role-model demonstrating to the child how to apply their mutually-shared values when he himself is later confronted with similar situations.
Honoring one's parents is not an expression of the child's appreciation of the parents' ongoing efforts to raise him and provide for him. On the contrary; honoring parents is a gift to the child. It is the main tool which molds his character. A parent who forgoes the respect due to him is not doing the child a favor, but causing him harm. A child whose parents clearly define a set of limits for him will feel secure. The child knows exactly what is expected of him, what is allowed, and what is not. The rules they establish for his behavior serve as an anchor for him as he sails the high seas, with unlimited opportunities to turn right or left. It is the limits set by the parents that help him to realize his place in respect to his surroundings. They give him adequate room to act, to experiment, and to make choices within the frame of the permitted, while at the same time, draw a clear borderline between what is allowed and what is forbidden.
Children whose parents set limits for them, grow up with self-confidence. The fact that they have repeatedly met the goals their parents set for them imbues them with confidence and gratification. Such people welcome new challenges as an opportunity to enjoy meeting an additional challenge and being proud of their success in completing the task assigned to them. They draw the strength to tackle new jobs from the wellsprings of successful achievements in the past. Obeying the regulations and keeping to the rules heightens the child's sense that he is deserving of approval; it enhances his confidence in his ability to do things, and to do them right.
"I can do it," he feels, "just like all the others." This sensation of "I can do it" will continue to stand him in good stead as a mature adult who meets the challenges of life with his batteries fully charged with confidence in his abilities.
A framework of rules and guidelines also proves to the child that the adults around him love him and care for his welfare. A child whose parents make an effort to teach him what the regulations are is confident that his parents are anxious to protect him. They take his well-being seriously, and set down rules for him accordingly.
In contrast, the child who grows up without a framework of "do's" and "don'ts" feels lost. He must run his life by himself, making up his own rules as he goes along. He's on his own, and realizes, deep in his heart, that he is but a child. He feels an innate need for the support of adults to guide him and shelter him. He has need of parents who will serve as a firm, reliable support for him and provide him with the feeling that his compliance with their guidelines and regulations for him is the best step he can take in order to ensure his own happiness in life.