Holding Our Kids to Integrity

Growing up, I remember enjoying several different television shows. My parents didn’t own a television until I was in fifth grade or so. Once we did, the shows were regulated with rules. However, several became favorites. My sister and I soon began our own version of live action role play of those special shows. Little House on the Prairie, Knight Rider, and CHiPs made their way through our imaginations. We became characters from those episodes or created our own original characters (OCs) to join the real ones.

Our fascination with ChiPs came naturally. Mom and Dad instilled in us a respect for a uniform. I don’t know if it had anything to do with growing up listening to Gramps Pat share his adventures in the South Pacific during WWII, or hearing the few tales about our Green Beret uncles from the Vietnam War, or if it was just the natural respect our parents had for men in uniforms. Whatever it was, it rubbed off on both my sister and me.

On Friday, our school held a career fair. I had the privilege of listening to the Oregon State Police Game Warden give his presentation four different times. As students asked questions and as he talked, I gained a new appreciation for what all our officers do for us.

My reaction surprised me. The officer who came and shared is a personal friend. I’ve known him since he was a senior in high school. I’ve watched his kids grow from babies to rambunctious boys. Yet, when he stepped foot into my classroom in full uniform, I immediately straightened up a little taller and put on my best manners. Some intimidation came with the gear. After the three hours, though, I was able to look past the clothing and see my friend.

50% of recruits don’t make it past the physical exam.

As he shared, I learned quite a bit. I was amazed that 50% of recruits do not make it past the physical exam. Although the requirements are posted, many are not able to meet them. I wondered at that. How often do we as parents or even teachers see this? We set out the expectations, and yet they are not met. I also realized that those who serve as officers have met rigorous standards. They deserve our respect. I know I couldn’t have done nineteen push-ups or fifty-three sit ups in two minutes when I was twenty-one-years-old; nor could I have ran two miles in just over sixteen minutes!

Integrity: The quality of being honest and fair; firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values; incorruptibility

Merriam-Webster dictionary

Another thing that struck me was integrity. The whole paper application process and interview is based on truthfulness. If an applicant hides the truth, tells partial truths, or outright lies, it causes problems and usually results in not becoming an officer. As I consider teaching or even parenting, this is one area I try to stress—integrity. Can my word, or the word of my student or child, be counted on? I would hope so, but often in this world, I am seeing less and less who hold truth as an absolute.

As I go about my days as a teacher and a parent, I want to hold my students and kids to the same rigor as the State police. I want to set expectations and hold students and children to them. I want them to reach high, to go for the gold. I also want them to be young men and women of integrity. It seems to be a lost art these days which once was the foundation of the old west. To do this, it means I have to hold myself to these same standards. Kids can spot a hypocrite a mile away! If I say one thing and do something else, they know it. I’m trying. Sometimes I fail, but if I admit it and get back up, brush myself off, and keep going always striving to succeed, students and my children will see it.

What about you? Do you struggle with this? Do you have any suggestions for how to hold your kids to high standards and integrity? I’d love to hear from you. Share your ideas in the comments.

What's your take?