Pillars of Character to Build in My Daughter
When you work with youth for a significant amount of time, you get to know a lot of families. You have the privilege of becoming involved in their lives. It is paradoxically one of the most difficult and rewarding parts of the job. It is hard because you walk through their pain with them, and it is rewarding because the friendships make life fulfilling. I was able to see a lot of parenting styles that I admired and wisdom that I attempted to glean from each relationship.
One of those treasured relationships for both my wife and myself was with a married mother of five teenagers. There is one word that comes to mind whenever I attempt to describe her and that word is regal. She is originally from Spain and, although her Spanish accent has a richness that makes you want to listen to her all day, it’s not what earns her a royal description. It’s in the way that she carries herself. Emanating from her core is a natural grace, humility, kindness, and decorum. Even when she reprimanded me, which she did on only one occasion, I walked away with gratitude. I would think, “How does she do that?” It was as if each interaction left me with a greater sense of dignity and a higher standard.
When my wife and I found out our second child would be a girl, we both decided separately that we wanted her named after this woman we admired so deeply. I am certainly not wanting my daughter to be a clone of this woman. She has her own unique spirit and personality. However, I do want to instill in my daughter’s spirit a certain set of virtues. I don’t expect her to be perfect in these, as I am certainly not. However, the closer she gets, the more regally she will walk. Here are the pillars of character I am nurturing in her and always strive to model.
At the core of integrity is honesty. If my daughter is going to have high moral character she will need to be grounded in the truth. [Tweet This] Living by the truth starts by taking an honest look at herself and accepting full responsibility for her actions. She will need to understand the extent of the pain caused when she wrongs someone and face it without minimizing it or covering it up. She must also see her beauty and not accept the lie the media portrays about how she should look. Being fully honest takes an internal strength that refines our maturity and affirms our identity.
Being honest with herself will hopefully give her a proper perspective of her importance. There is nothing more unattractive and sad than a person with an inflated ego. My daughter’s attractiveness will increase if she is a person who sees the value in serving others and placing their needs above her own. It’s loving in a way that is sacrificial.
This is more than treating people nicely. I think of this as having a genuine desire to care for people, particularly those in need. It involves not just listening to a person in pain, but empathizing with them and not trivializing their hurt with quick fix silver linings. True kindness will actively seek to bless people.
I want my daughter to have relationships that are healthy and strong. It makes life more full. Equally, I wish for her to not carry the weight of bitterness that can come from relational hurt. All of those can be satisfied if she is a person who is quick to forgive.
There will be plenty of adversity in life and quitting begets quitting. When faced with difficulty, I want to her to develop the discipline to grind it out rather than fade away. The quality of perseverance is of the utmost importance to maintaining right relationships. It is also a huge key to surviving temptations that attempt to lure us away from our moral pathway.
What character traits do you think are important to instill in daughters?