My theme this month has been about character, in case you hadn’t picked that up yet. So, I thought I’d write eleven reasons why character is important and why kids need to be trained in character. So, here goes.
1. Kids aren’t born with character.
Did you ever see a baby go to sleep early just to make it more convenient for his parents? No? Me, neither. Babies are great little bundles of snuggles, but they don’t know the first thing about manners or kindness.
2. Kids are born knowing how to lie, manipulate, and be selfish.
Asked my 2 year old who ate the last cookie, and she immediately pointed to her infant sister who couldn’t even stand up.
My first daughter walked at 13 months. My youngest walked somewhere around 16 months. Why expend the energy when you have four maids to do your bidding?
My first daughter’s first words were Mama and Dada. All my subsequent children’s first words were NO and MINE. Mama and Dada were of less importance when faced with playtime ownership.
3. Honey attracts more flies than vinegar.
Okay, so I don’t want flies on my kids, but you know what the old saying means. People like nice people, not sour ones. Even young children can learn basic manners. “Yes m’am,” instead of “whatever.” “Please” instead of “give it here.”
4. Old habits are hard to break.
Have you ever moved your trash can and then mindlessly thrown trash at the old location? Some “experts” say it takes about 21 days to learn a new habit. That’s a lot of trash on the floor. Kids are no different. Once they get accustomed to having their own way, it’s hard to harness them. Half-truths become whole lies. Bad attitudes become outright rebellion.
5. Your kids are going to grow up.
It’s a fact that children grow into adults. Unless you want them living with you for the next 50 years, they need to be gainfully employed throughout their adult lives. How many employers do you know that want to hire slackers? Not many.
6. Your kids are going to have kids.
Character is the ultimate legacy you can leave your kids and their kids. People still remember my grandfather, who died 27 years ago, as an honest and fair man. What better tribute can there be?
7. Life can be tough. Character may be all they have left.
No one can guarantee an easy life. Bad things happen, but good character will not fail. In fact, it may be all your kids have left to see them through tough times. During the Great Depression of the 1920s, many people lost their jobs and homes. Some committed suicide or turned to lives of crime. The true survivors picked up the pieces to build new lives.
8. People like to help people who are honest and kind.
“Extreme Makeover, Home Edition” is a perfect example of people helping people who help people. They pick their families based on need and community involvement. Not all have turned out to be as deserving as they seemed, but most serve above and beyond what they have and often live in deplorable conditions to do so. I’m not saying someone’s going to build you a mansion because you were the Boy Scout leader for 30 years, but generosity begets generosity.
9. Our country needs a revival of character.
There was a time when a man’s word and a strong handshake was all people used to strike a deal. Now, it takes a team of lawyers, hours of mediation, and thousands of dollars to agree on the most basic of contracts. Scandal has become synonomous with big business and politicians. Infidelity and divorce are common, even promoted on television and in movies. Our country was built by men and women who worked hard and believed in the ability of the citizens to govern themselves. Unless we regain a similar character mind-set, we will continue our downward spiral and be a mere blip in history one day.
10. Doing the right thing never goes out of style.
The length of skirts changes with the breeze, but character is timeless. Telling the truth, returning lost items, helping neighbors, sharing extras. Does anyone ever get tired of that?
11. Character is not a virus. You don’t “catch it.”
Finally, character is generally not contagious. Sure, kids need to see it in action to really understand how it works, but they also need to be trained in what it means and why it’s important. Don’t leave character training to the television or Sunday School teachers. Do it yourself. Get involved and plan discussions and activities based around character qualities you want to develop in your children. You won’t regret it, and your children will reap a lifetime of benefit.