Oftentimes we underestimate the ability of our young children to learn life’s greatest lessons early in their years. Justice, for one, is a value we feel like we ought to teach our children when they are already in school or even when they are much, much older. But it vital for families to know justice so as “to prevent the wounds that its members habitually inflict on each other from becoming persistent, suppurating sores that drain moral and emotional strength and ultimately sicken the family,” as stated in Thomas Murray’s The Worth of a Child.
We learn to be just not only towards our family members, but also become more conscious not to cause other people to suffer from our actions. But it is also important to know that there’s a fine line between seeking justice and rendering forgiveness, especially to our spouse, parent or child who have done wrong to us.
We sometimes find it hard to practice this ourselves even with simple things like putting our youngest to sleep. Sometimes, they’d end up saying “But she is not yet asleep… It’s not fair!” pointing out that the older sister is not yet up for bedtime too. Do we say, “Because I said so!” Do we explain to them that the older siblings need less hours of sleep than they do? Or do we, just for this time, have all the children sleep to ensure peace is maintained in the household? Perhaps this is just an indication that our toddlers grasp that concept of justice just as we possibly did when we were their age.
“In families, we learn what it means to be just, and what it means to suffer the sting of injustice. I suspect we also learn, at a deep, non-rational level, that it is important to seek justice and to avoid injustice. Or sadly, that it is fruitless to be just and that we really matters is becoming the oppressor, not the oppressed,” writes Murray.
We ought to keep justice fresh and vigorous. This allows us to maintain a loving bond filled with enduring loyalty and intimacy. After all, justice may not be the very reason why we are with our families now but it is crucial to any chance that we have for achieving values of love, learning to care for other people, enjoying the mutual affection and interdependence of parents and children…