When no one is watching…

by Mark Timm, CEO of Ziglar Family

Is it just me, or does it seem like parenting today is a lot more complicated than it was for our parents and grandparents?

I’d say the first few years are pretty standard from generation to generation, but once those babies reach school age and are exposed to widespread media and technology use, we have to really stretch our parenting skills to keep up with it all.

We have to ensure that, as parents, we have laid a strong foundation so that by the time our kids are teens, they are better able to discern for themselves what is and isn’t appropriate.

Zig Ziglar is famous for saying,

You are what you are and where you are because of what’s gone into your mind.

How can we be sure — with infinite resources at their fingertips —that our kids are feeding their mind with good, healthy “food” and building a strong character foundation?

It seems everywhere we look these days, we see public examples of character disasters. We just don’t see many good role models anymore, and our children don’t see them either.

Guess what parents – you are the most powerful role model your children will ever have. Dads, Moms, Grandparents — character begins with you. Kids do what you do.

So what character are you modeling for them? You can’t have one standard for yourself and one standard for your children and expect everything to turn out ok. For example, when you ask your children to tell someone that you’re not home, when you are, you’ve just taught your children to tell you that their homework is done, when it really isn’t.

When you permit yourself to use negative or demeaning words, don’t be surprised when your children put others down for being different or belittle one another at home.

The truth is, we have to set a higher standard of character for ourselves if we want our children to have the character to resist all the garbage they will encounter. You can’t teach your children character YOU do not have. Kids are gifted at detecting authenticity. And character is caught more than it is taught. So cultivating strong character has to start with you.

If you want your children to thrive, you need to go on offense to equip them with character qualities that will empower them to grow when you can’t be there.

I’ve heard it said that character is what you do when no one is watching.  If we want to instill character in our children, we must expect more from them.

Here are 21 character qualities to intentionally foster in your children:

  1. Compassion
  2. Encouragement
  3. Humility
  4. Kindness
  5. Sincerity
  6. Perseverance
  7. Maturity
  8. Consistency
  9. Gentleness
  10. Joy
  11. Trustworthiness
  12. Self-control
  13. Patience
  14. Loyalty
  15. Discipline
  16. Honesty
  17. Justice
  18. Stability
  19. Reliability
  20. Mercy
  21. Love

My challenge to you this week is to take some time to be intentional about developing these qualities in your kids. I’m willing to bet that every day at least one —and very likely more —opportunity will present itself for you to be a role model, and then talk to your children about why you behaved as you did.


Has your child has made a character choice that made you proud?  Leave a comment and let us know about it so we can celebrate with you!


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