What is the thing to do when…

Some IQ tests contain questions that pertain to knowing how to live one’s life responsibly. A question might go something like this: What is the thing to do when you find a puppy in your neighborhood? In order to get full credit for your answer, you have to indicate that you would do what it takes to try to get the puppy back to it’s owner, that you would meet the puppy’s basic needs in the meantime, and that eventually, you would leave the puppy in good hands if the owner could not be located. To simply say that you would offer it some food or water might get you some points, but if you never really tried to get the puppy back to his owner, you would not get full credit for that question.

This is an aspect of intelligence that we aren’t simply just born with. This sort of thing needs to be taught, and it pretty much can only be taught by parents, in the moment, when things like this occur. When the parent himself or herself ignores a stray puppy or makes some off-handed comment like, “I’m sure someone will be looking for him soon,” or “I’m sure he’ll find his way back home by dinner time,” that parent is failing to teach his or her children how to live life responsibly and that eventually lowers a child’s intelligence.

When we teach children how to live responsibly, they go ahead and live responsibly. People who live responsible lives experience greater benefits than those who do not take the needs of other creatures into consideration. People who lie, cheat, steal, and fake their way through life may think that they’ve chosen the more easy path, but it never ends up being happier or more successful than the path of doing the right thing.

So, the next time that you see a situation that requires a responsible response, ask yourself, “What is the thing to do when…” and be sure that the behavior you choose is one that you can be proud to teach to children.

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