Any discussion about raising sons, or raising kids in general, will and should always include character.
A person's character is defining for the individual, and it may matter more than just about any other factor in a persons life. Therefore it should matter to us personally, and it really should matter to us as we are raising our sons and daughters.
Character is a funny thing, you can run from it but you can't hide; in other words, you can try to avoid your character defects and flaws, but they will eventually find you out! Many people can fool you about who they really are by hiding their true character.
Some hide their character intentionally because it is flawed and doesn't serve them well in the moment, only for it to surface later, and often time catching us by surprise. This is duplicitous, a character flaw in itself.
People don't think often enough about their character; don't think often enough about their reputation, their future, and consequently shoot themselves in the foot. You can get away with some things for a time, but eventually your character will show through, good or bad and you will be revealed.
Politicians unfortunately give us plenty of examples of poor character, and we seem to often be caught by surprise by their true character as aspects of their lives become public. We have also been fortunate enough to have politicians with good character, they just seem to be fewer in number.
This is not a political conversation. This is not an ideological conversation. It is a conversation on character, and for better or for worse, our presidents have given examples of both of good character and poor character.
When a President of the United States has cracks and flaws in their character, when their character catches up to them, it affects us all. Suddenly rather than governing and leading, they have to spend time, energy and money on massive distractions that hurt our country.
Examples of recent Presidents and their character:
Donald Trump. Our current President, whether or not you agree with his policies, clearly he has real character issues that have created lots of drama for himself, those around him, and us as citizens. The President has challenges with his treatment of people, his ability to control his communication, his civility, his business dealings, his issues with women, his truthfulness and more. The result? Massive distractions. He has given his opposition more ammunition than anyone needs to keep him on his heels and distract him from governing.
Barak Obama. Our previous president, again policies aside, had much more solid character. There were some issues around his truthfulness in regards to his past. There were real issues around his relationship politically and with religion, that he distanced himself from. But there was really no question about him as a father, a husband, his fidelity, or the way he generally treated people.
George W. Bush. Our 43rd president was widely considered a man of good, solid character. He certainly had his issues in his past, but he had changed his life dramatically. By the time he was President, it was difficult to find anything to attack him on based on his character. His family was solid, he was respected, he was well liked. We were fortunate to have a man who was able to focus on leading and governing without distractions flagging him.
Bill Clinton. Our 42nd president is possibly one of our worst illustrations of deficient character. The flaws in his character just didn't precede him taking the office of President, they were active deficiencies that besmirched the integrity and honor of the office he held, and the subsequent behaviors following his elicit activity eventually got him impeached. His behavior had a profound, negative impact on our culture and his family.
We could go on about the Presidents in our past whose character was commendable and those whose was not.
The point is that your character will follow you. It's not about being perfect - we all have our past mistakes. and current things we are growing past, but those don't have to define us and our character.
We need to take the time to identify the public and private figures around us, who have the kind of excellent character we want our sons to emulate, as well as those who fail, to help them see what happens when you do, and do not care for your character.
This is critical to help them understand the power of their character, and to ensure they don't shoot themselves in the foot, by having weak and flawed character follow them.
We can all recover. My character was extremely flawed and deficient for the first 32 years of my life. However, with concerted effort, vision, values, goals and faith, I was able to redefine my character. And you can too!
For more information about raising great sons with solid character, consider the book Boys to Men - The Lost Art of the Rite of Passage. You can find out more about the book at www.allenjones.org.