"God can't stand deceivers, but oh how He relishes integrity." (Prov. 11:20 MSG)
If honesty means "telling the truth", integrity would mean to truly live out this "truth". You can be honest and not have much integrity, but it's very difficult to be a person of integrity and not be honest. Integrity is defined by Merriam-Webster as a "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values." Being a person of integrity is to make daily choices to live out what you believe. There is a good case that without integrity, our foundation of who we are, our core, will certainly begin to disintegrate.
So, of course we want to be people of integrity and we want our children to understand the importance of having this value as well. How do we instill this in our children and teens, particularly since examples of integrity seem to be fewer and father between?
First, let's take a look at some of the obstacles to integrity:
- Integrity can be difficult to understand. Kids are concrete thinkers, and integrity is not a concrete concept.
- Children don't want to disappoint you. They may choose to lie so that you or others won't think less of them. They fear the potential consequences if they believe they have missed the mark.
- Integrity is difficult for all ages. It takes time to develop. You need to be thoughtful about it. You need some courage as well!
Tips to instill integrity in children and teens:
- Honesty can be a great building block. Children need to know that they can't get away with lying. They need to learn the difference between a truth and a lie.
- Work hard on having your home a safe place, that children and teens are loved--no matter what.
- Teach the value of integrity at an early age. And as with all values, practicing integrity in our daily lives will be the best way to model and instill values in our kids.
- Ask teens difficult questions and allow them to think through their decisions. What do they feel is right? What do they believe?
- Match up your teen with other role models. The more positive adults in a teens life, the better.
- Allow you teen to fail. Integrity does not mean perfection. We must understand this. Consequences are appropriate, but use these moments to help them develop perseverance, responsibility, and courage.
1. Ps. 41:12
2. Prov. 10:9
2. Pick up the book Modern Parents, Vintage Values