Emotions Fully Alive: Forming Boys’ Affectivity Part II

Head of Mentoring, Joe Cardenas, continues his discussion of forming our sons’ emotions.

Training in virtue requires attention not only to intellect and will, but to emotions as well. Complete virtue requires not only a knowledge of, and decision towards the good, but also the desire for that good. How do we foster this wholistic capacity for virtue in our sons?

Joe provides three areas to consider:

  • Example: The way we speak to, and speak about, others, is a key element of our children’s emotional formation. We must showcase, for our sons, what it means to be a good man. In this context, we must showcase proper management of our own emotions.
  • Communication: Find ways to communicate to your boys that emotions must be directed, guided, and shaped. This is a countercultural message in an era of “you do you.” Don’t be overly didactic, but be ready to explore the proper role of emotions in conversations about culture, movies, art, and even ourselves. In this way we put the finishing touches on our boys’ moral imaginations.
  • Discipline: Our children will fail in this battle early and often. The art of teaching and parenting requires discipline, but we have to carefully consider our corrections. Consider how and when a boy will be most receptive to corrections.

Ultimately, virtue is not about pummeling our feelings into submission, but rather, orienting them towards the good. As parents and teachers, the most effective ways to do this are by giving good example, communicating, and disciplining at the right time and for the reasons.


Joe Cardenas

About the guest:

Joe Cardenas

Joe Cardenas is the Head of the Mentoring program at The Heights. Mr. Cardenas also teaches The Freshman Core and AP Art History. Since coming to The Heights in 1994, he has organized cultural trips to Spain and Italy and service projects in Mexico and Peru. Mr. Cardenas completed his undergraduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a degree in American history; he received his M.A. in Private School Management from Columbia University. He taught at The Head-Royce School, an independent school in California, and at inner-city programs in Chicago and the Bronx before joining The Heights faculty.

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