Parenthood, Character and You

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”  – Anne Frank

There is nothing like parenthood.  It is an opportunity to distill your central values and beliefs in preparation for passing the baton.  Parenthood forces the question: what do you hold most dear?  

Your children are both mirrors of your influence and fountains of unique expression.  Part nature, part nurture, each and every child born on our great earth develops character on the path from childhood to manhood or womanhood.  Furthermore, each holds the keys to an aspect of the future.

Strong character does not guarantee success, but it does ensure that the best possible foot will be put forward in all affairs.  Conversely, weak character does not gaurantee failure, but it makes it all the more likely.  In my estimation, the greatest gift you can give a child is a firm foundation of character.

At some point, every child must make the transition to adulthood.  Adulthood is the phase of life where the balance of responsibility for the continued refinement of character shifts from an external source to internal generation.  Whether this watershed came early or late for you, there is no better time than the present to delve into the refinement of your character.   

Several elements of character stand out to me this morning.  Patience, forgiveness, kindness, responsibility, decisiveness and fairness must be present to some degree in any person of real character.  In the absence of these qualities of character, impatience, blame, meanness, carelessness, indecision and lack of concern for others will find their way to the surface at one point or another. 

Remember this:        

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

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11 Responses to Parenthood, Character and You

  1. Lady Leo says:

    Looking at your outline of how our destiny is created the easiest place to start is our thoughts.
    What is it that grabs our attention?
    What are we drawn to read or watch?
    What compels us to participate?
    If we like the answers great, our destiny and those of our children are probably on the right path. If we don’t like it; we can change immediately and make a decision to think before we speak or write.
    Parent ourselves as we would a child. Is what I’m thinking patient, forgiving, kind and responsible? If not make the change.
    Great post, I’m going to add it to our April PTO newsletter. Simple, sensible material for teachers, parents and all those determined to make a difference in the world.
    Very helpful thanks.

  2. Brad says:

    Excellent words to consider as I look forward to the upcoming week.
    No time like the present to check my thoughts, words, actions, habits, & character….regardless of how things have been shaped in the past.

  3. S.B. says:

    I love the opening quote “…the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” I was reminded of your post earlier in the week which included a video of Temple Grandin who spoke of the difference mentors make in young people’s lives. I have thought to myself several times since “How much have I recognized the mentoring I received from various people throughout my life?” “How thankful have I been for those blessings for what they were right then and there at that critical moment in my development?” “What responsibility have I taken to increase that investment which was made in me?” How often are the seeds of strong character wasted by defaulting to the beaten path of discontent, as was brought up in your post yesterday, and it isn’t just our own life value that is destroyed but that of our children. As you say, there is no better time than right now to start shoring up areas of weak character. I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic when I say “The future of humanity and the earth depends on it!”

  4. Teryl says:

    I agree so much with S.B, there is no being overly dramatic when it comes to shoring up areas of weak character. Humanity and the world itself does depend on us to contemplate deeply these things. As a mother of three young girls, the developement of character is a daily lesson, inherant in all things, for myself and for my children. Indeed the greatest gift we can offer our children is a firm foundation of character. Our character is our legacy, left to our children and to other lives that we influence, what good advice to recieve as to “refine” this most precious gift.

  5. DeeDee (& Mark) says:

    As parents we can’t thank you enough for this invaluable instruction! Everyone we know will be getting a copy of this. Thanks for a terrific week of posts!

  6. Josh Cannen says:

    It has been said that a man’s reputation is what others think of him, but his character is what he really is. Sometimes these two aspects do not reflect one another accurately, but character is always the higher concern. No matter what others think – good, bad, indifferent – the foundation of character is what it is. Character flaws do have a way of finding their way to the surface. A favorite quote of mine by Stephen Covey: “You can’t talk your way out of what you’ve behaved yourself into.” Good character never results in behaving badly. Thanks for the consistent quality of your blog posts – these are more excellent points to strengthen the foundation of character.

  7. Chuck Reddick says:

    Several years ago I added “The Development of Character” to my personal list of Fundamentals, or Basics, to be successful. Since that time I have noted that when the development of character is accepted as a fundamental to success that those who adopt it start the process of becoming people of genuine character, substance, and often, accomplishment!

    A few definitions that I have discovered for Character over the years are:
    1. Honor
    2. Integrity
    3. Strength
    4. Uprightness
    5. Moral Fiber

    The development of character is a lifetime quest – how do you know when you have reached your highest level of character? Perhaps reviewing the five points mentioned above and others as well, all of which relate to Character, would be a good starting point!

  8. Lara says:

    Interesting that you put Patience first! This is a great challenge to refine the areas in my character that have called out for an upgrade. I have grown through your blog and no longer cast myself down when changes need to be made, but with caring encouragement I am inspired to keep moving. This change has allowed for greater patience and empathy with others. It is amazing how our outer world responds in reflection to our inner world. I am grateful to meet those on your blog that care about others and demonstrate that by the changes made personally. Great to change the world together!

  9. Kai says:

    I don’t have children of my own, but as a teacher I am dedicated to helping children grow up to be valuable human beings. A quote that made an impression on me early on in my career is by Dr. Haim Ginott, author of “Between Parent & Child” – “I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.” This has helped shape my character as a teacher. On the other hand, Nietzsche described the responsibility of the student when he said “You are rewarding a teacher poorly if you remain always a pupil.” I don’t think one ever ceases to be on both sides of this ‘character coin’, influencing others and taking new responsibilities oneself. Thank you for another remarkable consideration!

    • Brad says:

      Kai – as a parent I want to thank you for sharing these quotes….keeps me on alert to my response with my children.

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