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 kids or anyone’s children who may befriend or eventually date or marry our girls. And we worry about what our kids are learning in classrooms, playgrounds and sports fields about things like honesty and honor, respect and responsibility, kindness and compassion, and service and self-discipline.

Sure, parents are children’s primary source of moral education, but the lessons taught at home — through example as well as words — may be confirmed or repudiated by peers or from the values explicitly and implicitly promoted in school and extracurricular activities. Contrary to uninformed or cynical assertions, there’s ample and mounting evidence that well-designed efforts to instill and strengthen core ethical values can have a dramatic, positive impact on the attitudes and behaviors that constitute character.

That’s why I’m such an ardent advocate of purposeful and pervasive character education. I want teachers, coaches and other adults who help shape the attitudes and habits of children to consciously and competently reinforce positive character traits like trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and good citizenship.

Since this is Worldwide CHARACTER COUNTS! Week, it’s a great opportunity for you to consider whether schools in your area, or organizations you’re involved with, could be more directly involved in this vital effort.

Get your free resources at

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts. 

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