One of the blessings of being part of a family is to be able to share your life with others: your joys, your heartaches, your strengths, your weaknesses and even a few little secrets now and then.
The first problem with the word integrity in our culture is that it is difficult to understand as a word. It gets jumbled in our vocabulary to vaguely denote honesty or character when we describe somebody we respect. It’s interesting that there are no true definitions of integrity in a search of the first ten pages of Internet quotes. We talk about it, but we have some difficulty trying to define it.
We live in an indifferent world. As a result, people treat each other with various levels of respect and, sometimes, outright disrespect. You may have even behaved disrespectfully to others in front of your children. Unfortunately, we all do it. We also make great excuses for why we need to be disrespectful, possibly the leading excuse is: “Because she/he did it to me first!”
The most well-balanced children will perceive weaknesses in themselves. Unfortunately, these little personal views can be exploited and amplified by their friends and family. Self-perception evolves from a variety of sources produced by both family and community systems.
Gentleness is also under pressure these days. We are pushed along by a be successful mentality and win at all cost motivations. We understand that we have to do what we have to do to achieve our goals. For the many, gentleness is not being taught as an important component of the success formula. But should it be? What is important about raising a kinder, gentler generation – a kinder, gentler child – and how do you teach it?
Sometimes it just doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong. The important thing is to foster good – maybe even strong – relationships with those we love and care about. Help your children understand that the real “winner” is the one who builds honest and lasting relationships, not the one who tries to win the argument each and every time.
Patience is a virtue. Who hasn’t heard those words? The words themselves are deeply embedded in our thoughts, but the behavior – the actual practice of patience – is another character trait that has fallen by the wayside in society today. Our hurried, overscheduled culture in which everything must happen immediately is taking its toll on our willingness to be patient and work things out.
Before looking for ways to develop the fine art of self-control in our children, it may help to find a common definition for this character trait. When we say self-control we often mean the ability to be quiet or stop throwing a temper tantrum, but the more important aspect of self-control is self-mastery.