HK called. He’s a middle school principal.
“Ed, I need a favor. The speaker for our parent-teacher meeting had to cancel. Can you come over next Tuesday and speak to them for about twenty minutes?”
“On what?” I asked.
“Oh, why don’t you say a few words about raising children to be people of good character?”
(Obviously, HK benefited from taking one of my character education courses—keep it short, get to the point.)
“Okay,” I responded, “twenty minutes should do it.”
He gave me all the particulars.
Tuesday, early evening. My talked followed their business meeting.
After the introductions, I began by telling the parents that I was the father of six kids. I noted that while my wife and I were raising them we had no training for parenthood, so we “winged” it.
I offered a few suggestions, acknowledging that none are fool-proof, most are common sense, and all will give them something to think about. (Note: I provided examples where I could, but these are not included in this blog.)
My first suggestion:
Tell your kids upfront that you are loving parents who want to offer them five family gifts: respect, responsibility, care, support, and safety.
My second suggestion:
Look at the character development of your children in this way: character, good or bad, are learned behaviors. The word CHARACTER has two Cs in it; one stands for CHOICE and the other for CONSEQUENCES. Living a life of good character doesn’t happen by CHANCE, nor does it happen by CIRCUMSTANCES. It happens by CHOICE. If exercising builds strong muscles, then practicing the virtues of good character should build strong positive personal and social behaviors.
Use the language of character around the house everyday in all relationship matters. A few examples may help you:
⎯ Why are you teasing your sister?
⎯ How did you show respect in that situation?
⎯ Why is it his responsibility and not yours?
⎯ When am I going to be able to trust you?
⎯ Where are your manners?
⎯ Did you do your homework (responsibility)?
Notice the value of question-asking and the result—critically thinking about behavior. Ask questions. Question their answers to your questions. This technique highlights the fact that the answers to your questions offers them choices, and those choices offer opportunity for changing, and changes lead to possibilities. You get the idea!
As every parent knows our kids (and ourselves, at times) need skills to handle their emotions—sad, mad, bad, glad. So, my suggestion is to remind you that it is okay to get angry. Everybody does it. It is what your children and you do after being angry that counts.
Put this poster on your refrigerator, on a bulletin board, or in your child’s backpack:
The least important word: I
The most important word: WE
The two most important words: THANK YOU!
The three most important words: ALL IS FORGIVEN.
The four most important words: WHAT IS YOUR OPINION?
The five most important words: YOU DID A GOOD JOB!
The six most important words: I WANT TO UNDERSTAND YOU BETTER.
(From Relationships 101 by John Maxwell, 2009-values.com)
There are no magic formulas in raising children of good character. But there are people out there who have really solid ideas on how you can help your children be people of good character. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started.
Google “how to raise children of good character”—lots of good information and resources!
Check out these books on Amazon.com:
Michelle Borba, Parents Do make A Difference: How to Raise Kids with Solid Character, Strong Minds, and Caring Hearts
Robert Coles, The Moral Intelligence of Children: How to Raise a Moral Child
Sean Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
Tom Lickona, Character Matters: How to Help Our Children Develop Good Judgment, Integrity, and Other Essential Virtues
Marvin Marshall, Discipline & Parenting Without Stress
Hal Urban, Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things That Matter
CDC webpage: http://www.sandiego.edu/soles/centers-and-research/character-development-center/
Recent Posts: http://sites.sandiego.edu/character/