14. Encourage positive character qualities. While we may be challenged to compete or excel in the beauty, brains, and brawn pageant, we all have the ability to be honest, courteous, cheerful, loyal, enthusiastic, faithful, and much more. The ability to develop these qualities is totally separate from what anyone thinks of us. And the affirmation aspect of this goal is the great value these qualities will be to your children in the workplace, their future marriage, the mission God calls them to, etc.
When I visit with high school students on the topic of dating, I like to ask what makes a girl or boy popular with the “in” crowd. Good looks and a confident personality usually top the list. When I ask a group of guys if they sit around and talk about a girl’s loyalty, honesty, and integrity as an attraction for dating, they ROFL. Our culture glorifies the superficial, yet the character qualities we are emphasizing here are the very things that contribute to a tremendous marriage; the ultimate goal of dating. We encouraged our children to look at the character of a potential dating partner when entering a relationship that may lead to marriage as opposed to being swayed by someone who is good-looking and makes you laugh.
How do we instill these positive character qualities into our kids? We teach and we model. Ages 1 to 7 are known as the “age of regulation”. We make the rules and consequences clear. On the negative side, we punish for willful defiance. On the positive side, we teach healthy character traits through charts, stickers, rewards, and other motivational methods. By ages 8 to 12, children enter the “age of imitation”. If we have developed a relationship with our kids, they now take on the positive character traits they observe in us. We are not just the authority figure; we are the inspirational figure as well. And it behooves us to walk in a worthy manner as an example to our children.