What Can Lead to Better Youth Character Development?
I think that, really, we all want kids/teens we know (especially our own) to develop the kinds of traits as they grow up that will serve them well—as well as serving society well. This is known as character development. For the youth in our lives, we actually are teaching them character already—for better or worse. For our own children, our nieces and nephews, and so on, they are learning from our own behavior and attitudes—let alone what we say to each other.
We cannot expect, as you may already know as a parent, Boy Scout or Girl Scout leaders, Sunday School teachers, teachers, school counselors and so forth to develop our kids on their own—aside from the limited input they do have in their lives.
Having said that, for me, since my own dad died when I was eleven, a few men stepped in and made time for me, clear through high school and into my college years. They made such a tremendous difference in my life. One such man, Frank (a retired CPA) befriended me when I was a sophomore, taking me (and sometimes my mom too) out to breakfast or lunch. He became such a powerful mentor and friend. I learned many important life lessons from him.
For our own children, it is vital that we are personally involved in their lives. And “quality time” doesn't really cut it. As I heard a pastor say a few years back that, “quantity of time helps lead to quality time.” It is important to carve out enough time each week to spend one-on-one with them. I know that many of you are working parents, even single parents. Just do what you can; maybe you could cut back on a favorite pastime, even sacrificially. Making time now will pay huge dividends for the whole family's future.
So, we'd love to hear from you! How have you developed your kids, or other kids who you interact with? Do you know another adult who is good at developing character? How do they do it?