ParentClick Santa Barbara

Character traits we want to instill in our children


Our character is much more than just what we try to display for others to see, it is who we are even when no one is watching. Good character is doing the right thing because it is right to do. ~Abraham Lincoln

As a child, my mom was always more concerned with my citizenship grades than my academic grades. As a parent, I now understand why. Academics are critical to our children getting into college but their character will have a far greater impact on their future and how they choose to live their life.

Many of our kids know how to study and get good grades but do they show respect to their teachers? Do they respect other students? Do they show up on time for class? Do they show good sportsmanship on their teams? Our children are challenged everyday whether they are in first grade or tenth grade. Do they stand up for their friend that is being bullied and risk being bullied themselves? Do they cheat on a test because everyone else is doing it? Do they drive other kids in their car when the law says otherwise? Do they show up for work when all their friends are going to the beach? It is hard to always make the right choice when there is enough grey area to make the easier choice. It is challenging to go against the majority especially when kids so badly want to fit in.

Kids take many of their cues from their parents, teachers and coaches and the examples we set with our daily interactions. As a parent, you can so often see both your positive and negative character traits in your own children. It can be challenging to always set the right example but they learn from us every day with all the things that we don’t say. They watch our actions and how we treat others.

Every family has different expectations for their children. In our home, respect, responsibility and honesty are the big ones. When I reflect back on my friendships, relationships, career, volunteer commitments and daily interactions, these are the ones that cross over into everything I do. I have never been impressed with a persons college degree or financial wealth as much as I am by their integrity. We have told our daughters many times that trust is something that is free but that once you violate it, it is very difficult to earn it back. When my daughters leave home, my hope is that they don’t define themselves by their grades or their sports but rather by their relationships and their character.

I am involved in many different committees through various volunteer commitments. I love to observe the way each one of them works. I have come to realize the few that I look forward to attending are usually made up of people I really respect because they demonstrate character in how they commit to their volunteering, their jobs, and their families. I recently had an opportunity to work with a small group of women to plan a memorial. It was a difficult situation where everyone was thrown together not really knowing each other and I felt so privileged by the end to be a part of it because each of these women really stepped up. This is what I want to teach my daughters as they become young women. Step up, speak up and commit.

I appreciate that our schools embrace a “CHARACTER COUNTS” program which focuses on the 6 pillars of character… Respect, Responsibility, Caring, Fairness, Trustworthiness and Citizenship. Take time to talk to your children about what this means in your household. Find out from your child what they are learning in school about character counts through assemblies and in their classrooms.





October 9, 2014

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  1. biljana says:

    I like the article and what got stuck in my mind is..” Step up, speak up and commit!” That is what I would like my children to work on! Thanks.

  2. Patty says:

    Forget the kids, you inspire ME to step up! You do an amazing job in our community and so do your girls. Great article. Thanks!