If you were to ask your child, “What do you think I, as your parent, hold as the most important for you to be: (1) successful, (2) good, (3) happy, or (4) smart,” how do you think he or she would reply?
When I ponder this question about my own daughter, my first answer is that I’d like her to be successful. But I would also want her to be happy, as well as smart. However, I consider myself a successful parent because, above all else, she is a good person. She holds the values that are most important to me: being a person who is kind, considerate of others, and able to differentiate between good and evil.
I do not believe that this kind of decency comes naturally. It needs to be modeled, taught, and reinforced.
To act at this level means that behavior is emphasized over feelings. It means that a person does not wait until the feelings arise before helping others. You help others and then feel good about it. Additionally, it means that self-control and self-discipline are the best road to self-esteem.
This also means emphasizing personal ethics over “social policy.” For example, recycling and doing things to save the environment are secondary to treating others with dignity.
As a parent, I wanted to give love, security, and wings. The fact that our daughter is a good person brings more joy to me personally as a parent—even though she is smart, successful, and happy too.