Parenting Toward Character Goals – Installment Two:

Which person do you prefer – the considerate or inconsiderate individual?  With which person are you more at ease and more likely to share openly and honestly – the one who pays attention to you and proactively thinks of things that may bless you or the one who is so wrapped up in self that you begin to wonder if they even notice you are still there?

Not exactly a tough call, is it?  We all prefer spending time with considerate people.  People who are willing to make the effort to notice us and reach out to us and respect our choices and sometimes even sacrifice their own preferences to honor ours.  These are people who bless us.  We feel filled up and lifted up and encouraged and empowered when considerate people touch our lives in some way.  They add value to us and to our journey.

Inconsiderate people have the opposite effect.  They tend to drain us, and may really frustrate or irritate us.  Rather than eagerly anticipating our time with them, we are more likely to brace ourselves to endure our time with them.

Which camp would you like to see your child in?  Again, not a tough choice, right?  So, what are you doing to lead your son or daughter there?

And I can tell you right now – if you regularly cater to your child’s preferences and demands, doing your best to make the daily environment around your daughter or son just the way she/he wants it to be – you aren’t shaping a considerate individual.  You are helping to create yet another self-absorbed, inconsiderate individual to join in the competitive struggle of “looking out for number one.”  Let me know how that works out for you.  Or, more importantly – for your son or daughter.

Am I saying you should stop doing things for your child that he/she wants and enjoys, and turn into some cold, callous parent whose aim is to prepare that child for the harshness of a world that doesn’t care?  No, that’s not it.  Simply this.  The two most powerful ways to lead your kids toward becoming loved and cherished by others as considerate individuals are to resist the impulse to revolve the world around them and cater to their every whim, and to model consideration by practicing it in your own life.  We don’t always get our way in life, and kids do well to learn this early from Mom and Dad.  But this need not be a dreary fact.  Help them discover the joy of willingly, proactively embracing opportunities to put others first and serve them through simple gestures and sacrifices of consideration.

Tune in next time for tips on fostering the virtue of honesty in your children.

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