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Character building – what is it? Will your family accept it?

You’ve seen the TV commercials. “Talk to your kids,” they urge. They show boys going for a walk with Dad to discuss character traits; girls sitting down with Mom for a family values chat. Would your children and teens comply with a little character building the way the kids in the commercials seem to comply?

“You don’t understand,” you say. “I want to get into family character building, but you don’t know my family. Everyone’s too busy. The little ones wouldn’t sit still for character building – and the very words family values roll my teenager’s eyes to the skies. Where do you find character building that works for the whole family?”

PARENTS: You probably know already that character traits form the basis of quality family values training. You know that all 66 character traits are family values. You want your children to exercise those character traits consistently throughout life. You know character building should produce adults who help stop society’s moral decay.

So how do you begin?

Begin with yourself.

We adopted a little girl some years ago. She was less than a week old – straight from the hospital. Since she was half Japanese and half American, she didn’t look like us, but something strange happened. As she grew, she began to mimic us. She spoke as we spoke, with the same inflections and accent. She developed tastes in food that were identical to our tastes. She mimicked my walk so perfectly that people noticed and commented on it. She didn’t consciously try to mimic us. It was just natural.

Children learn to exercise the character traits with which they live. Dr. Dorothy Law Nolte celebrated that fact in the lines of Children Learn What They Live. Here are three of those lines:

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

Character building for families begins with you, the head of the family, building your own character. As you study the how-to book Character, and begin to build your personal character, you will become a model for the whole family. Follow that with another book from the Character Builder Series, and your model becomes stronger. Your children will begin to live with your character. Your children will begin to mimic what they see in you. You will have launched family character building that makes a difference.

TEENAGERS: Many people shrug hopelessly when they read the words teenager and character building in the same sentence. The connection isn’t hopeless, though. Your teenager’s eyes will roll back down from the skies and focus on character building when you provide interesting material.

For centuries, wise teachers have used stories to teach important matters to their students. Think of how Jesus, Plato, and Socrates taught. Many other great teachers used the same method. They taught high moral values with stories because people like stories. A story is the spoonful of sugar that can make character building “medicine” go down.

A sixteen-year-old in New York State read Passport to Courage and, even though this teen novel has to do with character building, wrote:

“I thought this book was great… heart-pounding at times… a wide range of vocabulary, so it’s good for older people as well as teens. I would rate it 5 stars for suspense, vocabulary, and pure feeling!”

A teen cheerleader captain in North Carolina read the best-selling, character building teen romance novel Date with Responsibility and wrote:

“I just wanted to write you and thank you for the book. I loved it!! I just couldn’t put it down! I read it in about 3 days. It was so good, and it was full of adventure and drama. I love those kinds of books.”

Add intriguing novels to your personal modeling of character. Non-confrontational, the Character-in-Action® Series gives you a great way to present character building to your teens. Character traits woven subtly into exciting plots drive their way into teen brains.

9-11-YEAR-OLDS: This age group loves mystery stories. Work character building into the story line, and you have a fascinating way to teach family values. Look, for example, at the book Mystery at Lake Cachuma. The mother of an 11-year old wrote the following:

“My daughter has taken the book to school often to show her friends. She is eager to read the other books (in the series) so we will be ordering! Thank you!!! I am very impressed!”

Imagine your children loving character building so much that they’d “often” take such a book to school to show to friends! Imagine them wanting to order more books on character traits! That’s what happens when they identify with thirteen-year-old twins Charlie and Hailey in the Character Mystery Series of books.

3-8-YEAR-OLDS: The youngest family members jump into character building quickly as they mimic you. I don’t mean that character building is natural. It isn’t. You have to work to instill family values in children, but that work becomes fun when you use a book like Stinky Skunk’s Self-Control. Preschool children and early readers love Stinky, and identify with her itches to do wrong. With Stinky, they learn to control their itches and do what is right. Stinky Skunk’s Self-Control is just one of more than a dozen books in the Character Companions® Series that you and your children will love.

Picture your children merrily singing Stinky Skunk’s Self-Control Song:

Self-control knows how to act,

With hands and mouth and eyes,

And if you don’t use self-control,

Pssssssst – character flies.

Having raised two children and taught hundreds more in schools, I purposefully wrote my character building books as “can’t-put-it-down” fiction that boosts any family values training effort.

Character building for the whole family? Definitely! Moral nourishment is as crucial as physical nourishment. Feed your family’s moral side with exciting character building, and enjoy the amazing change moral health brings.