One of my resolutions this year was to be more intentional about reading. I spent the school year commuting more than an hour to work and back, so I had a lot of drive time. I decided to use this to listen to books, which became a wonderful part of my day. I no longer dreaded the quiet rides, or the time flipping between boring radio stations. I was consuming books like crazy!
One book that stuck out to me was Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson. Korie is the wife of the Willie Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame. I must admit that, although I have laughed through a few of those silly reality shows, I wasn’t a fan. So it wasn’t her fame that drew me to this book, it was the topic. She writes about how to raise kids of character. Now that got my attention.
As a mom of two young girls and an elementary schoolteacher, I have been rolling the idea of character around in my mind for a long time. I want my kids to have character; that is, I want them to be kind, patient, honest, selfless, compassionate, brave, loving, strong, determined, and all those wonderful traits that we aspire to instill into our kids. I have seen hundreds of students go through my class and even in the young kindergarten grade, it is evident which kids have been taught some of these basic principles, and which have not. These traits do not simply just happen. Kids need specific training and teaching.
Korie writes that when she was a young mom, she went to a Bible study and the topic of the study was character in kids. She was asked, “If you could pick the most important two character traits to instill into your kids, what would they be?” After much thought and prayer she settled on “strong” and “kind.” She poses the question to her readers: “What would be your two traits?”
As I read this book (actually listened to it!), I found myself struggling with this question myself. There are so many traits I want my children to embody, both as a Christian and as a member of society. I want my kids to possess ALL of the fruits of the spirit, as listed in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. I want them to be honest and loyal. I want them to be compassionate and caring. How in the world could I narrow it down to two?
So I considered my family’s dynamic and the personality of my girls. I thought through situations that I anticipate them encountering. I still have been wrestling with this question, but I think I have come down to these: brave and compassionate.
They are similar to the two she chose, but different variations. I think my girls will need to be brave. They need to be brave to try new things, to stand up for themselves, to have confidence in themselves, and to defend their faith.
I also chose compassionate. I think compassionate goes beyond kindness, because it is inherently connected to action. I want my kids to not only feel empathy to those in need, but to do something about it. Selflessness, another trait I considered, is built into compassion. You cannot be compassionate and selfish.
The book was totally a breath of fresh air. I loved it and actually wished it would have been longer! I encourage you to decide, even if you don’t read this book, what traits are valued in your family. I will leave you with a beautiful quote from her book.
“After being a parent for twenty years, I have come to believe that the most important thing for parents to decide—more important than bottle or breastfeeding, more important than co-sleeping or sleep training, and even more important than whether to put your child in day care or become a stay-at-home parent—is what values are important to your family and how you will go about instilling those values in your children.”
What are YOU reading now?