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Friday, April 20, 2007

Be a Character Role Model

One of the most powerful teaching tools parents have is modeling the behavior they want children to learn. In character education, that means "walking the talk," or being the person of high integrity you're helping children to become.

You may be a good role model now, but remember, you don't have to be sick to get better. Everything you do, and don't do, sends a message to children about your values. Be sure your messages are about doing the right thing, even when it is hard to do. When you slip (and all of us do), act the way you want your children to behave when they make a mistake - be accountable, apologize sincerely and work to do better.

The following "Parents' Pledges" were developed by the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition to help parents focus on specific behaviors they can model as part of their teaching. Perhaps they will be a source of inspiration for you.

A Parent's Pledge: Trustworthiness

  • I will be as honest as I want my children to be.
  • I won't lie to my children or in front of them.
  • I will not treat honesty as a rule of convenience by excusing acts of dishonesty or deception as exceptions.
  • I will avoid hypocrisy like preaching against smoking, drinking or drugs while doing those activities.
  • I will demonstrate consistently the strength of my moral convictions by paying whatever price necessary to do what I think is right, risking loss of money, approval and even employment.
  • I will treat my word as my bond in all cases.
  • I will avoid legalistic escape hatches in dealing with my children, honoring the spirit as well as the letter of my promises.

A Parent's Pledge: Respect

  • I will listen with respect and treat my children's views seriously.
  • I will avoid selfish and petty behavior and power plays, especially where my children are concerned.
  • I will exercise self-restraint and maintain the kind of self-discipline I expect from my children with respect to violence, yelling or other displays of temper.
  • I will use only the kind of language I want my children to use.

A Parent's Pledge: Responsibility

  • I will demonstrate a willingness to admit when I am wrong and to take my medicine, and expect the same from my children.
  • I will avoid shifting the blame and making excuses regarding my own shortcomings or mistakes, and expect the same from my children.
  • I will assign reasonable age-appropriate responsibilities to my children and see that there are meaningful consequences if they fail to perform their duties.
  • I will insist that my children keep their commitments at home, at school and in extracurricular activities.

A Parent's Pledge: Fairness

  • I will not resort to arbitrary power to get my way when I have taught that general rules of fairness are applicable.
  • I will treat all my children equally and fairly.
  • I will be open and reasonable to discussion and criticism.

A Parent's Pledge: Caring

  • I will remember that my children are stakeholders in everything I do.
  • I will demonstrate compassion and respect for others, especially my children.
  • I will be visibly charitable and involve my children in choosing charities to support.
  • I will not discount, belittle or trivialize my children's feelings and fears.

A Parent's Pledge: Citizenship

  • I will obey the law in all matters.
  • I will vote in all elections and perform other civic duties such as jury duty, testifying as a witness and reporting crimes as the opportunities arise.
  • I will conserve energy and avoid littering or other forms of pollution.

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