Character Matters

"Character is identity"

- Heraclitus, 535-475 BC, Athens, Greece

Character is highly correlated with success. As we continue to push our kids in academics and sports, we fail to recognize that mentoring in kindness, generosity, selflessness, and gratitude is essential to that person's ultimate happiness. When I have the good fortune to know a young person who shines with character, I go out of my way to let them know what I observe and try, in some way, to acknowledge those traits actively.

Raising a child with good character necessitates integrating the values into the daily fabric of the family's life. Small children love the feeling of helping and making a difference. Even toddlers can have a task and enjoy the sense of purpose it brings. I recently had the opportunity to watch, with love and pride, my five-year-old granddaughter and 3-year-old grandson work intently, with care, on making homemade frames for their papa. Cultivating authentic ways to foster generosity of time and effort should be a cornerstone of parenting.

The impetus of writing this essay is my connection with a young woman who impresses me with her strong character. She is responsible, generous, hardworking, and extremely caring of the people in her life. This young woman exudes empathy. If someone is sick or has a difficult time, she will find a way to brighten their day. Although her life has been impacted by adversity and loss, she greets each day with optimism and a smile.

Her mother is my good friend, so I am privy to the ups and downs of raising a teenager. There have been typical struggles for independence and autonomy. The transition from childhood to young adult is never an easy one for children or parents. This young woman found her voice early in life. She knows what she thinks and feels and can be relentless in her perseverance. Although her parents may not always appreciate this trait, it will do her well as she grows older. I have known this young woman for many years and have been fortunate to watch her grow into a beautiful person.