One of the highlights of my life as a dad – and having five kids, I’ve had quite a few – occurred on a Saturday afternoon when I was taking my then 13-year-old son Justin and his friend Aaron to a movie. As we entered the theater, I noticed the ticket seller had undercharged me, so I asked the boys to wait a moment while I returned the money.
This did not please the boys, who were anxious to get choice seats.
Nevertheless, I endured hostile glares from people in line and even an annoyed reaction from the cashier, who corrected the mistake. When I returned, Aaron, who was exasperated because the prime seats had been taken, asked, “Why did you have to do that? It was her mistake, not yours.”
I was about to launch into a lecture on integrity when my son, who was also irritated, looked at his friend and said, “What did you expect him to do?”
Many years later, this memory is an uplifting reminder of the impact we have on the character of our kids. Hearing from my son that he expected me to be honest and knew I expected the same of him was like a pat on the back saying I’d done okay as a father.
My son, still one of the most honest people I know, realized that honesty is neither a convenience nor a choice. To a person who values integrity, it’s a habit.
When it comes to parenting, it’s hard to know what’s working and what isn’t, but one of the best rewards for attentive parenting is seeing something good in our children and knowing we played a part.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.