The Value of Integrity

By Susan A. Yates
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
David Laurens/PhotoAlto Agency/Getty
You can encourage your teens to not only tell the truth, but also value integrity.

At age 16, Leslie was thrilled with the freedom her driver’s license gave her. Her parents were cautious about when and where she was allowed to drive. So, when Leslie asked her mom if she could go to a specialty store to buy a gift for a friend, her mom asked that she not drive far from home during rush hour. Leslie agreed to wait until the next day.

But when Leslie arrived home later than expected, her mom questioned where she had been. Leslie explained that she had been shopping near home. It wasn’t until her mom noticed a receipt from the specialty store that the conversation continued. Sure enough, Leslie had casually lied about where she had really gone.

Lying, fudging the truth and not being completely candid tend to be common issues with teens. Much of the cover-up for teens is seen as a little thing — simple self-preservation. However, it’s in the little things that habits are formed, and over time, the habit of small lies can grow into bigger acts of dishonesty.

As parents, we want to raise teens who not only tell the truth, but who also value integrity. To be a person of integrity means to be someone who is completely honest, trustworthy, reliable and dependable, whether others are watching or not. Unfortunately, today’s culture doesn’t value integrity. This often leads to an attitude that says it’s OK to do whatever we want as long as no one gets hurt and we don’t get caught.

We’re living in a day when success is becoming more important than honesty. From athletes taking steroids to students cheating on college placement exams, dishonesty is often seen as the surest way to succeed. So how do we inspire our teens to be men and women of integrity in a culture that winks at dishonesty and elevates success?

Here are a few points worth considering:

Grow in integrity

As parents, do we value integrity more than success? If I value integrity, I will insist that my son make honest line calls in his tennis match, even if it causes him to lose. I will not write my daughter’s college essay for her, even if I think it might increase her chance of acceptance. Because of our culture’s warped values, we have to be vigilant: The desire for success can subtly influence our decisions and ultimately erode our character.

Initiate conversations

Talk in the car; talk at the coffee shop; talk at the dinner table. Just talk together. Discuss character traits with your teen. Ask: “How would you define integrity?” “Why is it important?” “Is there a person you know who exhibits integrity?” “Why do you think it’s hard to be a person of integrity?” Listen to your teen, and then be honest about ways in which you may struggle. Discuss what God’s Word has to say about integrity.

Be alert

To better understand the challenges your teen faces, it’s important to understand his world. Walk the halls of his school. Read the school paper. Drive car pool. Entertain his friends in your home. Know what your youth pastor is teaching at church.

It’s also helpful to be aware of what’s happening in teen culture. Read articles explaining issues that affect today’s teens, and become familiar with popular music, movies and other media. One dad watched several TV shows with his teenage son. He offered his son a quarter for everything he could point out that was not true. The project was enlightening for both father and son as they became more aware of our culture’s disregard for integrity.

Pray for your teen

Pray specifically that your teen would get caught if she’s doing anything dishonest. When she’s caught, follow through with the consequences, and do not bail her out. Support your teen as she learns from her consequences, reminding her that your love for her does not change.

Pray also that your teen would have the strength and personal conviction to do the right thing, even when it’s difficult. Prayer helps us all as we endeavor to become men and women of integrity.

Sometimes it’s through failure that real growth begins. We are going to fail, and so are our kids. It helps to remember that teens are not looking for perfect parents — they’re looking for honest parents. Honesty brings credibility to our character and reflects our commitment to model integrity. And that’s true success.

© 2012 by Susan A. Yates. Used by permission.

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

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.