by : Melly Latifah
As television shows us about various violence, sexual harrashment and other criminal actions at home and our neighborhood, then we asked a question:” What is wrong with our character? What happens in our home? Why does it happen?” This essay will discuss about definition of character, factors that influence it, and the role of family on character development.
There are some definitions about character. Some said that character is subjective assessment about the quality of moral and mental; while some said that character is subjective assessment of quality of mental only, so the effort to change or build it is only related with stimulate someone’s intelectuality1). Dennis Coon2) said that character is subjective assessment about someone’s personalities related with personalities attributes which can be or cannot be accepted by community.
Character, as other self qualities, does not grow alone. It is influenced by many factors. In general there are two factors that influence character developnment, namely nature and nurture 3).
Nature factor is endowment potent that determines human development by genetic mechanism. Nurture factor is environment factor that determine human development by parenting and education practices. Developmental psychologist believe that every human being has endowment potent that will be applied after the birth, including potent of character. Confusius said that if those potent are not followed by education and socialization, human being will still as thinking animal, even worst 4).
According to Thomas Lichona, as well as Erik Erikson, character education must be conducted at the very beginning of life. Erikson said that child is the early figure of manhood, which is wisdom to grow up slowly but sure.
According to Ratna Megawangi (2003), a child will be grown up as a characterized person in a characterized environment. Therefore, family - as the first environment of a child - hold a main role in development of child’s character. There are three needs to develop good personality, namely : maternal bonding, security, and physically and mentally stimulation.
Maternal bonding, which is the psichologycal closeness with mother, takes an important role in child trust development. Erikson said, the close mother-child bonding emotionally in the very beginning of life results the good personality of a child.
The need for security is the child’s need for stable and secure environment. This is important because the unstable environment will ruin the emotional development of a child.
Physically and mentally stimulation need a great attention from the parents. The great attention from a mother will help a child to be a joyful, an entusiatically explore the environment, and a creative kid.
Furthermore, parenting pattern plays an important role in acquisition of good character by children. Parenting pattern can be defined as a parent-child interaction pattern which includes fullfillness of physical and psychological needs. Baumrind5) categorized these pattern as follows : (1) Authoritarian, (2) Authoritative, (3) permissive. Hurlock and Hardy & Heyes6) called these pattern as (1) otoritarian, (2) democracy, and (3) permissive.
Otoritarian pattern is characterized by : (1) parents domination; (2) unconsidered child as a person; (3) very tight control of child behaviour; (4) punishment for disobey child. Democracy pattern can be identified by: (1) there is a cooperation between parents and child; (2) child is considered as a person; (3) parents give guidance and direction; (4) parents is not-rigid in controlling child. Permissive pattern can be identified by: (1) child dominates parents; (2) parents give freedom to their child; (3) there is no parents guidance and direction; (4) it is very lack of parent control.
It seems that democracy pattern is very condusive pattern for character education of child. According to Arkoff7), democracy pattern produces child that expresses his or her aggresivity in a constructive way; in contrast, it is very different with child who had grown up in autoritarian pattern. Meanwhile, child that had grown up in permissive pattern expresses his or her aggresivity vulgarly.
In conclusion, we can say that character is the quality of someone’s moral and mental. The development of character is influenced by nature and nurture. Each human being potentially has a good character, but this potent must be on-going developed through socialization and education from the very beginning of life. Family is the first and the main environment in education of child’s character. There are three factors that a family should has for generating a good personality, as follows : maternal bonding, secureness (security), physical and mental stimulation. In addition, parenting pattern also plays an important role for the success of character building. The rise of not-characterized community is a result of the failed of character building in family. Therefore, each family must be aware about the important role of character building for the shake of nation building.
1) http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/. Accessed on April 26, 2004.
2) Coon, Dennis. (1983). Introduction to Psychology : Exploration and Aplication. West Publishing Co.
3) Megawangi, Ratna. (2003). Pendidikan Karakter untuk Membangun Masyarakat Madani. Indonesia Heritage Foundation.
5) Badingah, Siti. (1993). Agresivitas Remaja Kaitannya dengan Pola Asuh, Tingkah Laku Agresif Orang Tua dan Kegemaran Menonoton Film Keras. Program Studi Psikologi – Pascasarjana, UI. Depok