Integrity Is A Quality That Has To Be Acquired With Experience.
Parents are certain that if their children simply follow their footsteps in the snow, the path will be warm and easy to navigate. Learn from our mistakes, we say. Follow our instructions. We grew up once; we know where the traps are. Our advice will keep you safe.
We want our children to learn from our mistakes. We want to spare them the discomfort of their own bad judgment. We want to rescue them from its consequences. And we are wrong, of course. That’s the primary lesson to emerge on integrity, honesty and personal responsibility.
How do you convey the concept of personal integrity, and how do you keep your adolescent in line with it? The answer appears to be that you don’t. The only way to learn about integrity is to be out of it and to feel uncomfortable with what you have done, Don’t rush to take those feelings away from them. Let them feel that way. Let them experience it.
Every child, no matter the appearances of rebellion, seeks to be in alignment with his parents, and with those things his parents value and approve of. But we need to let them squirm a little first. To let them feel what it feels like to be out of sync with the people you love and who love you.
As parents, we need to be talking to our kids about integrity, how important it is, how elusive. We need to help them define it. But that isn’t sufficient for them to learn it. When they really learn about integrity is when they lose it. At some point, our children will violate their personal integrity and our values by cheating or stealing or lying or betraying a friend. The question is how we will handle the news.
Allowing our children to suffer the consequences of their own mistakes is the kind of loose grip that causes most of us to hyperventilate. It is as scary as the view of the street from the top of a skyscraper. But micromanaging their lives and controlling their choices can be crippling for them. “Abandoning your teen and hovering over them amounts to the same thing: a dismissal or a marginalization of their lives.”
Kids are fanatically dedicated to their own integrity, They want to be honest with themselves and to be fair to others.
Losing it, they feel terrible. It goes to their relationships. They have betrayed a teacher, a friend, the class, their family. Kids find out how valuable their integrity is only in the moment of losing it. We want our kids to grow up and make their own choices. Some of those choices will be wrong, and we’d like them to skip that unpleasant step. But sometimes, you can’t know a choice is wrong until you have made it.
We want our children to learn from our mistakes when what we should hope is that they learn from theirs.