One of my wife’s and my most treasured relationships is with a married mother of five teenagers. One word 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 she carries herself. Natural grace, humility, kindness, and decorum emanate from her core. Even when she reprimanded me, which she did on only one occasion, I walked away with gratitude. I thought, “How does she do that?” It is 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 to name her after this woman we admired so deeply. I certainly don’t want my daughter to be her clone. 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 at these as I am certainly not. However, the closer she gets, the more regally she will walk. Here are 5 pillars of character I am trying to nurture in my daughter.
1. HonestyIf my daughter is going to have high moral character, she will need to be grounded in the truth.
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. 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 to face it without minimizing it or covering it up. She also must see her beauty and not accept the lies the media tells about how she should look. Being fully honest takes an internal strength that refines our maturity and affirms our identity.
Being honest with herself hopefully will 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 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 him or her and not trivializing his or her hurt with quick-fix silver linings. True kindness actively will 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 not to carry the weight of bitterness that can come from relational hurt. All of those can be satisfied if she is quick to forgive.
There will be plenty of adversity in life and quitting begets quitting. When faced with difficulty, I want her to develop the discipline to grind it out rather than fade away. Quality perseverance is of the utmost importance in maintaining right relationships. It is also key to surviving temptations that attempt to lure us away from our moral pathway.
Sound off: What character traits do you think are important to instill in daughters?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What does it mean to have character?”