My eldest daughter has Shirley Temple golden curls and a winsome smile. She’s the kind that often garners comments from strangers like, “You have such a beautiful daughter.” And of course, as a father, I glow with delight. But that glowing has gotten me thinking. What do I want most for my daughter? And what am I communicating to her about the value of physical beauty?
Upwards of ninety percent of parents, when polled, say that they want their children to have integrity. And I’d count myself in the vast majority here. I want my daughter to be honest and virtuous. But what attention do I give to her character on a daily basis? Do I commend her honesty more often than I tell her she’s cute? Do I care more about the condition of her heart than how she looks when we walk out of the house together? Does the way that I discipline her inspire and demand honesty, or does it encourage her to hide her tracks?
It is easy, “on paper”, to list my values and priorities for my children. But if an anthropologist was to observe our family for a week, would she or he observe the same list . . . and in the same order?
If you, like me, count yourself among those who prize integrity, how do you show your kids that it is far more valuable than how they look, or perform?
Graham Scharf is a father of two, and co-founder of Tumblon.com. He blogs at Essential Questions and produces a podcast interview series for parents of young children. You can follow him on Twitter @tumblondad.