Character may determine our fate, but character is not determined by fate. The quest of an honest parent: Strive to be the person you hope your children think you are.

There’s no doubt that our character has a profound
effect on our future. What we must remember, however,
is not merely how powerful character is in influencing
our destiny, but how powerful we are in shaping our own
character and, therefore, our own destiny. Character
may determine our fate, but character is not determined
by fate.

It’s a common mistake to think of character as
something that is fully formed and fixed very early in
life. It calls to mind old maxims like “A leopard can’t
change its spots” and “You can’t teach an old dog new
tricks.” This perspective that our character is “etched
in stone” is supported by a great deal of modern
psychology emphasizing self-acceptance. As Popeye says,
“I am what I am.” The hidden message is: Don’t expect
me to be more, better, or different.

Ultimately, these views of humanity totally undervalue
the lifelong potential for growth that comes with the
power of reflection and choice. How depressing it would
be to believe that we can’t choose to be better–more
honest, more respectful, more responsible, and more
caring. None of us should give up the personal quest to
improve our character. Not because we’re bad–we don’t
have to be sick to get better–but because we’re not as
good as we could be.

There are so many things in life we can’t
control–whether we’re beautiful or smart, whether we
had good parents or bad, whether we grew up with
affirmation or negation–it’s uplifting to remember
that nothing but moral will power is needed to make us

No, it isn’t easy. But if we strive to become more
aware of the habits of heart and mind that drive our
conduct, we can begin to place new emphasis on our
higher values so that we become what we want our
children to think we are.

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