I’m gonna be uncomfortably honest here. On any given day, a quick perusal of my family’s fridge or pantry would probably reveal all sorts of health department violations. You know that opened jar of spaghetti sauce lurking behind the milk? After just 4 days, experts say it starts growing mold. Gulp. Apparently, antibiotic super-power marinara is not actually a thing… No judgement, please.
The truth is—the stuff we invest in, like overpriced organic pasta sauce, will go bad—and quickly.
But not everything we get behind as a family expires—there is no expiration date on strength of character.
In fact, it not only gains lasting power over time, it’s an investment that pays dividends. That means we can affect change on the next generation, and so on. The seeds of virtue that you plant in your family today, will continue to bloom in your grandchildren. (I don’t care if you’re not even 40, grandkids are probably in your not-too-distant future! ...Suddenly the topic of expired spaghetti sauce feels a lot more safe.)
You get the drift, now is the best time to invest in strength of character. But how does a parent who is already super busy (AKA overwhelmed) do that without spreading one’s self even thinner? I may not be an FDA-approved expert on product shelf-life, but Families of Character is in the business of forming families with strength of character...we invite you to follow our lead!
Below are three of our tried & true super simple tips for your family to kick-start growth in character strengths today!
Pick one character strength a month and begin living it. How? The virtues we recommend starting with are: Orderliness, Gratitude, Generosity, Respect, Forgiveness, and Self-Control. Read up on it. Discuss it at family meals. Pick a 30-day challenge based on the character strength. For instance, if you choose gratitude—get everyone together with a stack of post-it notes and create your own gratitude prompt pad. Collaborate on great ideas. Each sheet, you write one way the family & individual members can express gratitude.
Day 1: Write a thank you note.
Day 2: Show your thanks to family by doing an added household task.
Day 3: Thank a neighbor.
Day 4: Create a family gratitude affirmation and post it.
You get the idea. The point is to have fun and rally your family around the character strength. Take small steps each day which will (over time) result in major transformation!
Get The Family Huddle Going! Get together at least once a week as a family and talk about the past week and the week ahead. Discuss everything through the lens of the character strength you’re living. This regular gathering is such an important (and relatively easy) step, but unfortunately, way too many families overlook it. But it’s a non-negotiable. A family can’t grow in character without a real, substantial connection with one another. Kids won’t care what we know until they know how much we care. This is the proof they require. Add a pizza, and it’s a fam-jam! (That’s what the kids are calling a family party these days, according to my hipster dictionary.)
Live the Example—Practice Makes Progress The aim of infusing your family with strength of character isn’t about perfection. (That ship is never gonna sail!) But having the ability to respond in a positive way when life happens (which it always does!) is the key to growing stronger as individuals and families. The practice of strengthening character is called that precisely because it requires practice. This is the time for your family to make mistakes. Welcome them and model a positive response. That’s how everyone creates healthy decision-making skills and habits. Isn’t it better to deal with a teen’s selfishness now rather than with a twenty-something who is struggling to hold down a job?
As the school year gets underway, and we find ourselves once again wrapped up in homework, sports, and grades—keep in mind that the most important lessons you can impart on your children are not found in textbooks. The lessons of heroic virtue in the face of struggles, disappointments, and failures are what they’ll absorb and carry on. And that “stuff” you’re intentionally passing on will never expire. The strength of character you hand them will last for a lifetime and more.
...Talk soon. I have some stale spaghetti sauce and (maybe) old lunch meat to purge.
Still feeling a little unsure about applying these ideas to your family?
For a super fun guided tour on living out character strengths—check out our expert-created, parent-approved Adventure into Character subscription box experience. Everything you need to lead your family on the exciting path to more orderliness, generosity, self-control, and more… is delivered right to your doorstep.
Every other month, your family will unbox thoughtful prompts, engaging activities, and encouraging exercises designed to kick selfishness to the curb. That means more pitching-in, less bickering and nagging, and a whole lot more togetherness! What value would you put on the peace of mind of knowing that your kids are steeped in character strength? When the going gets tough—which it will—do your kids have what it takes to move through it with positivity and growth? Arm them with an Adventure into Character!
If you have an issue you’d like our help with, drop us a line at Hello@FamiliesofCharacter.com. If you’re experiencing a problem, chances are thousands of other families are in the same boat. We’re ALL in this parenting boat together!
Remember to tap into our Thrive Community on Facebook. It’s free and our team’s very own clinical counselor offers helpful tips and encouragement to parents who are adventuring together.