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The Value of Integrity

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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.

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Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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