My kids are evil.

Good. Now that I’ve got your attention, let me explain. Little kids are a lot of things – sweet, cute, sticky (most of the time), small, lovable, smelly (again, most of the time). But compassionate, kind, gracious and selfless? Nope, nope, nope and… nope. And here in lies the rub. All too often we mistake their sweetness and smallness for goodness. Our children are wonderful gifts. But they are not born with great character – the kind that will ultimately lead to world changers and planet shakers. Goodness is not a birthright.

Julie Now, teaching our kids these kinds of qualities is easier said than done. I mean, just keeping them alive, fed, clothed and (relatively) clean is a quantum job! As a parent with three children under the age of five, I’m discovering that it’s better to integrate big life lessons than to separate them from our day-to-day lives. I’m hoping that as the days, weeks and years go by, my kids’ lives will be peppered with lots of useful moments that help them to become people of real character and to navigate their way through this oft upside-down world.

Here are some examples of character attributes we want our kids to have, and some ways we’re trying to instill them into the little buggers:

 Compassion – I remember the first time I tried to teach my eldest this virtue. We pulled up at a traffic light and saw a man begging for food. I rolled down my window, greeted him warmly and gave him an orange. As we drove away, I explained to Eli what we’d just done. He cried all the way home. Not out of sympathy for the poor man, but out of utter self pity that I had given away our food. Our orange! He wailed as if it was the last piece of fruit known to mankind. Another time, he asked me why a man was digging in the bins. I knelt down and told him gently about the huge disparity between rich and poor in our country, about how that man probably had kids at home, and that their home was nothing like ours, and how different their supper would look to ours. And that, despite how different our lives were, we were no better than that man. Again, Eli wept. And again, not out of compassion, but because somewhere in my story I had mentioned the word cupcake, and now he was sure he would die if he did not have a cupcake right this very minute. I’m not making this up. My kids are evil!

Courage – One of our kids is inherently skittish. We feel it’s our job to build into him the confidence he’ll need to face life well. So we don’t just let him get away with not trying new, scary things. We encourage him. We often say, ‘Just because you’re scared, doesn’t mean you can’t do it – you can!’ And he’s always so glad when he does eventually try and succeed at something new.

Robustness – This is such an undervalued attribute these days. When was the last time you heard someone say, “John is such a catch. He’s so robust!” And yet it’s one of the make-or-break qualities to get through life alive and happy! We try to teach our kids to suck it up when life sucks. We don’t say that of course, we say ‘It’s not the end of the world.’ And we say it sooo often that most of the time now, we just say, “It’s not the end of the?” and they finish the sentence themselves, as they take a deep breath and wipe their snotty faces clean with their sleeves. Children are charming like that.

So to sum up, I’m learning that good character isn’t going to fall from the sky onto my little ones. But every day is jam-packed with great opportunities to teach, inspire and drag them (kicking and screaming) toward it!

[Julie, among other things is someone with a gifted prophetic voice, a writer of note and an amazing woman role model for hundreds of younger women around her. She is the wife of Terran who is a friend of mine i have done a bunch of speaking with or near for many years and they keep their friends constantly amused with an assortment of things their kids say via the Facebook]

[To read the next inspiring piece on raising world changers, shared by my great friend Bruce Collins, click here]