Do Your Kids Know You Value Their Character?

By Danny Huerta
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Erin Drago
Do you encourage your kids to pursue achievements or to develop their character? Your parenting might be telling of which you value more

Recently a father expressed to me his concerns about his son in the new school year. “We expect good
grades,” this parent explained. “But we really want him to demonstrate good character.”

His comments were similar to responses I’d heard from other parents. When asked which is their top
priority for their kids—good grades or good character—most parents answer “good character.” I
suppose we think it’s the right answer to that question.

What you value

But do we communicate this to our kids? In a study from Harvard University, 80 percent of middle and
high school students said their happiness or achievement was more important to their parents than
their personal character. The report gave me pause. Do my kids know which I value more?

There’s certainly nothing wrong with expecting kids to get good grades. And academic achievement can
be an indicator of qualities we want to build in our children—determination, resilience,
responsibility, creativity. But in the big picture, a child’s character paints a clearer image of
who he or she will become and how this individual is growing in his or her faith.

Strike a balance

As parents, we have the most influence in our kids’ lives, and it’s vital to remember that children
learn far more by how we act than by what we say. When we applaud our kids for academic performance,
let’s be sure it’s balanced with celebrations and awareness of growing character, as well:

Cheer them on when they talk about reaching out to a classmate who is lonely or a neighbor kid who
needs help or when they show patience toward a sibling. When we notice and encourage kids as they
display respect, compassion, patience and kindness toward others, they are more likely to prioritize
those life qualities.

Help them recognize the value of integrity and the maturity that comes with accepting responsibility
for mistakes. Always rejoice in the truth when it’s spoken in your home, even when it’s an admission
of doing something wrong.

Notice effort over results. It’s often tempting to focus on measurables. Did my child ace the test
or score the winning goal? It’s better to consistently notice and celebrate kids’ effort—their
perseverance, cooperation and dedication—even when they don’t end up on the honor roll or hoisting
the tournament trophy over their head.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Danny Huerta Media Profile
Danny Huerta

As vice president of the Parenting and Youth department, Danny oversees Focus’ initiatives that equip parents to disciple and mentor the next generation, so that they can thrive in Christ.

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.