Character Education

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

With so much emphasis placed on accumulating material possessions, families today are giving less importance to building strong character in their children. It seems as if we have become a society more concerned about "Image" and less about "Character". Although we have so much more today in terms of knowledge, opportunities, modern conveniences, and modern technology, are the children of today's generation of stronger character? Are our children happier? It seems that anger, jealousy, hatred, and selfishness get more center stage nowadays. The newsworthy stories are those of people's problems or demise. So what does it really mean to have good character?

Good character should be about having basic human values such as:

  • honor
  • respect
  • kindness
  • generosity
  • compassion
  • honesty
  • trustworthiness
  • self-control
  • fairness

    When you see someone with a good character, isn't it easy to recognize? Isn't it easy to spot someone with poor character? We would all like our children to have a well-developed, strong character? But how does it happen?

    A sound character also means a good moral character. It means having a sense of right or wrong and the ability to make good choices. A solid moral character includes characteristics such as:

  • loyalty
  • integrity
  • courage
  • good citizenship
  • civility
  • keeping promises
  • responsibility

    Character building takes place in the home. If the parent does not exemplify a good character, the child will most likely not have a good character. Some schools struggle to implement character education curriculum in the classroom. But a good character is not learned only from the school or after school activities - these avenues can reinforce a good character. Ultimately, it has to be a united effort if we are to produce more honest, fair, and caring citizens.

    We are not born with a great character – it is taught by example.

    Character building is an emulated entity. When parents demonstrate positive character traits, the child can automatically emulate these traits. The family is the main source of character education for a child. The parents are the first teachers and the most important teachers in a child's life.

    Spending time with your children is a key component in building good character at home. During time spent, the child learns:

  • To identify with the values of the parent
  • To have meaningful conversation with the parent and receive feedback on their own beliefs and values
  • To build their own self-esteem, which goes a long way in character education. When children have a healthy value of themselves, they are less likely to behave in destructive ways. With a high sense of self a child will want to move towards more positivity.

    Although family dynamics are changing with more single families, a sound family support system must be put in place to ensure that our children are receiving a healthy dose of character education. Extended family, especially grandparents are an excellent source of character education.

    Take a moment to examine your own character. Are you happy with the values and morals you stand for? Are you proud of the example you set for your children? Is there room in your life for improvement? Yesterday I received an email from one of you – a reader of my daily blog. She expressed her gratitude for focusing on character education this week and included in her email a story that I would like to share with you today.

    Dear Audrey Marlene,

    "I have been reading your blogs for the last few months now and really enjoy what you write. Because you focused on character education this week I want to share with you a story that happened to my family this past Christmas.

    Right before Christmas I was reading your website on spirituality and how to develop it. There was a part in it where you talked about giving up some Christmas presents and hand delivering them to less fortunate children. I really liked the idea and decided to do that this past Christmas.

    In the past, Christmas in my home was always focused on presents, Christmas shopping, and dealing with all the stress of trying to figure out who I'm forgetting. This past Christmas we went shopping as a family for the first time and bought presents for other people in need. We bought children presents, male and female, and adults male and female but we were not sure who we were going to give them to. My three children all got involved in wrapping the gifts and it was so wonderful to see the excitement they all had, imagining what the kids would think when they received their presents.

    One day while my husband was on his way home from work he saw a man holding a sign on the side of the road that read "will work for food." My husband stopped and started speaking to the man and found out that he had lost his job two months prior and he had no money to buy food or a Christmas presents for any one of his three children, the same ages as our three children. It was as if God had put this man in our way for us to help him. We adopted this family for Christmas and shared with them our blessings.

    Last Christmas was one of the nicest Christmas’ we have spent together. The focus was on sharing, kindness, generosity, compassion, and love and not on what we didn’t get. Our children's characters have grown so much from this experience and I plan to continue doing things like this. It seems the best way to teach good character is by taking the lead and they follow. We need more focus on building good character these days. Thanks for doing so and keep up the good work."

    Melissa After the overwhelming response I received from my blog, I realize how many parents out there are thirsting for more support on building good character in their children. For this I must commend you.

    Remember, we as adults must have the self-awareness of our own character and be willing to make the necessary changes within us before we can help the generations to follow. Ask yourself what kind of people you would like your children to be? Ask yourself what kind of people you would like to see more of in our society. Then examine what you stand for, your character, your value systems and moral foundation. Do you represent one of those people?

    Anyone with money can buy a big house, fancy car, designer clothing, or gadgets and present quite an impression. That's called an Image - it's something you can buy. We cannot buy character. You either have it or you don't.

    Become an advocate for strong character education

  • "Character is higher than intellect." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • "Character is power; it makes friends, draws patronage and support and opens the way to wealth, honor and happiness."— J. Howe

  • "Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character." — Albert Einstein

  • "In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do."— Stephen CoveyCharacter, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike." — Theodore Roosevelt

  • "No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character." — John Morley

  • "You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him." — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

  • "Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece—by thought, choice, courage and determination." — John Luther

  • "To exercise good character daily is to be morally fit for life." — Karen Hartz

  • "Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world." — George Bernard Shaw .

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