COMMENTARY: An Uncomfortable Moment of Truth

When my daughters were younger and wanted to spend time with me, I used to take each one on an out-of-town trip for alone time. An especially memorable one was with my youngest daughter Mataya when she was seven. We went to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and had a wonderful time touring and talking about American history, the Liberty Bell, …

COMMENTARY: Converting Pessimists Into Optimists

Every full life has its bright days and its dark days, its triumphs and defeats, its calm and stormy seas. All these high and low experiences could justify viewing the past through the lens of gratitude or disappointment. And the way we characterize our history will determine whether we look toward our future with hopeful expectations or anxious trepidation.

COMMENTARY: The Intimidating Power of Integrity

A teacher once wrote telling me that a parent with a great deal of clout at her school asked her to change attendance records to make her child’s record look better. The teacher said she thought long and hard about the request but eventually refused, knowing it would make the parent angry. I commended her moral courage. I wish it …

COMMENTARY: The Ultimate Display of Citizenship

The holiday we now celebrate as Veteran’s Day was originally called Armistice Day in tribute to the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. Sadly, the “war to end all wars” didn’t accomplish that goal. In 1954, Congress officially changed the name to Veteran’s Day. Too often we think of the term “citizen” only in terms of rights. …

COMMENTARY: On the Passing of a Loved One

I received a note from one of my oldest and dearest friends that his mom passed away. I was moved by the gracious way he gave the news and described her life and while all the feelings evoked by the news and the way he conveyed it are still enveloping me I want to share his note and my response …

COMMENTARY: Bologna Sandwiches

When Jason, a construction worker, took a sandwich out of his lunch bag, he looked at it and threw it on the ground yelling, “Bologna again! I hate Bologna.” A co-worker said, “If you hate bologna so much, just ask your wife to make you something else.” Jason replied, “That’s the problem. My wife didn’t make the sandwich. I did.”

COMMENTARY: “If” by Rudyard Kipling

It’s a pity that so many great poems are turned into commercialized clichés because, when we’ve heard something before, we don’t concentrate hard enough to listen to its messages. A good example is the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It includes some of the best advice a parent could give a child, including: If you can keep your head when …

COMMENTARY: The Value of Trust

A teenager wants to go to a party, but she’s sure her mom won’t let her. So she and her friend concoct a false cover story. What’s the big deal? Most kids lie to their parents from time to time, and their parents probably lied to their parents. Despite rhetoric about virtue being its own reward, a great many adults …

COMMENTARY: The Values Our Kids Learn From Others

Blessed with the opportunities and obligations of raising four young daughters, my wife Anne and I are profoundly aware of the importance of instilling good values that will help them become capable, honorable and happy adults. I think we’re doing a pretty good job, but we know that isn’t enough. Frankly, we’re worried about the values and character of your …

COMMENTARY: Moral Courage – The Engine of Integrity

Mignon McLaughlin tells us, “People are made of flesh and blood and a miracle fiber called courage.” Courage comes in two forms: physical courage and moral courage. Physical courage is demonstrated by acts of bravery where personal harm is risked to protect others or preserve cherished principles. It’s the kind of courage that wins medals and monuments.Moral courage may seem less …

COMMENTARY: Give and Receive as if It’s the Thought That Counts

According to legend, a desert wanderer discovered a spring of cool, crystal-clear water. It tasted so good, he filled a leather container with the precious liquid so he could bring it to the king. After a long journey, he presented his gift to the king, who drank it with great pleasure and lavishly thanked the wanderer, who went away with …

COMMENTARY: Parenting Modern Kids in a Modern World

A hit number in the 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdie was a classic parent’s lament starting with, “I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today! Why can’t they be like we were?” The answer, of course, is they’re just like we were, but many of us aren’t like our parents were. Sometimes that’s good, often it’s not. Every generation of kids coping …

COMMENTARY: Be What You Want to Be

“What will you be when you grow up?” It’s a serious question. As kids, we knew we were going to be something and that to be something was to be someone. Even as our ambitions changed, we knew what we were going to be was important and our choice.

COMMENTARY: Changing Lives

Long ago when I was a law professor, I was at a conference and a man I didn’t recognize greeted me warmly. He said he wanted to thank me for changing his life. I was embarrassed as I listened to him tell me that he had met me after a speech I had given at his law school. He said …

COMMENTARY: “You’re Only Cheating Yourself”

It’s in the news all the time – kids are cheating in school in new ways and at unprecedented rates. One of the reasons is the way schools and parents deal with or ignore the underlying issues of integrity and character. For instance, to discourage kids from cheating, adults commonly say, “You’re only cheating yourself.”

COMMENTARY: This Is My Dad, Sam Burke”

Ann’s father, Sam Burke, was in the last stages of cancer, and his needs had gone beyond what she could provide at home. She was distraught at the thought of placing him in a convalescent home. The check-in process confirmed her worst fears. Administrators, nurses, and doctors who seemed bothered, bored, or burned out quickly transformed Sam Burke into just …

COMMENTARY: Authentic Apologies

“I’m sorry.” These are powerful words. Authentic apologies can work like a healing ointment on old wounds, dissolve bitter grudges, and repair damaged relationships.

Enjoy and be grateful for the little things in life because one day you will look back and realize they are the big things.

USING PHOTOS TO RE-EXPERIENCE THE BIG LITTLE THINGS. The greatest value of personal photos is the way they preserve the precious moments of daily living. They capture events and experiences we once though worthy of documenting . Yet, like the memory stored somewhere in our brains, these recorded images usually disappear into a forgotten past. Photos trigger memories and remembering …

Life is short. Smile as often as you can – then keep smiling.

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Mother Teresa. CHARACTER COUNTS! (www.charactercounts.org) focuses on creating a positive school climate where children are both physically and emotionally safe, where they feel they are accepted and valued and where they feel they belong. One of the most effective ways …

COMMENTARY: Too Poor to Give

When Teresa, a widow with four young children, saw a notice that members of her church would gather to deliver presents and food to a needy family, she took $10 out of her savings jar and bought the ingredients to make three dozen cookies. She got to the church parking lot just in time to join a convoy going to …

COMMENTARY: Competition in the Arts

Competition often brings out the best performance but it doesn’t always bring out the best in people. Even in the arts, actors, singers, dancers, and musicians must survive and thrive in a competitive community as rude and rough as any. Ambitious parents often introduce toxic gamesmanship and back-biting attitudes very early as their children are judged and ranked by the …

COMMENTARY: What I Want My Daughter to Get Out of Sports

Several years ago, when my daughter Carissa was about to enter her first gymnastics competition, I wrote her a letter expressing my hopes and goals for her athletic experience. Here’s a revised version: My Dearest Carissa, I know you’ve worked hard to prepare yourself to compete, and I know how much you want to win. That’s a good goal. You …

COMMENTARY: The Beginning of Positive Thinking

I am a strong believer in the power of positive thinking, which is the title of a best-selling book published in 1952 by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, a controversial preacher and pastor who popularized the idea that if you can change your attitude, you can change your life. He urged people to consciously train themselves to be optimistic and enthusiastic, …

COMMENTARY: If You Were Arrested for Kindness

If you were arrested for kindness, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Some people cheer up a room by entering it, others by leaving it. What do you bring to your interactions with workmates, friends, and family?