As a parent, you can establish clear boundaries and limits to protect your children, but what will hold those in place?
Integrity is the virtue that gives your kids the strength to do what is right when no one is watching. Here are a few thoughts to remember as you work to instill integrity in your children.
Integrity does not = Rules
Integrity is a heart issue; rules only manage visible behavior.
“Raising kids of integrity does deeper than managing how much time they spend on their gadgets or out with their friends. It’s more than choosing their wardrobe or at what age they wear makeup,” says author and speak, Dr. Tony Evans. “Raising kids of integrity means equipping them with wisdom to discern for themselves standards and boundaries…Accompany all family rules with the reasoning for those boundaries. In small, appropriate ways, let your kids help define those boundaries once they demonstrate an understanding of the relevant reasons and goals.”
The older your child gets, the less you will be around to enforce the rules. If you shelter and manage your child’s life too much, he won’t know how to live without external rules.
Integrity Grows Through Understanding
As annoying as the “why” questions from your kids may seem, they are actually important for you to answer. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase: rules – relationship = rebellion? Well, rules minus reasoning can also lead to rebellion.
Understanding the why behind the what will give your child the tools he needs to reason in situations when you are not around to guide his thoughts.
Integrity Grows as it’s Recognized, Praised, and Rewarded
It’s easy to praise and reward our kids for tangible things, like cleaning a room, making good grades, or scoring points in a game. But if you want integrity to grow in your child, you must be on the alert for the intangibles in your child’s life: selflessness, honesty, and follow-through. Keep your parenting radar up and be ready to recognize, praise, and every now and then, reward their integrity. If you water it, it will grow.
There are so many things that parents stress over and battle against; perhaps it’s time to focus on your child’s integrity more than his grades, clothes, or the condition of his bedroom.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents.You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.