Years ago, I sat in a meeting with a new mayor while interviewing to become the police chief. The interview went great and I knew the position was mine.
Because of the highly political nature of the position, I wanted to make clear that leading the police department was my priority, and not playing an elected official’s surrogate.
“What are your expectations of me as the chief of police.”
His reply sealed the deal, “Do the right thing.”
If I had to ask or he had to explain what the “right thing” was, then this wasn’t the place for me.
But how do we know what is the right thing? God makes it clear that we’re all sinners.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
We recently addressed an issue with one our kids. We presented the problematic behavior, the offending actions and laid down the consequences. We then built the kid up with encouragement to do good from that point forward, and to do the right thing.
The kid agreed, and left the room with a new lease on the teen-aged years. We high-fived over a problem solved. Or was it?
Doing the right thing is not an intrinsic trait. We’re rebellious by nature. So, in reality, we’d set the kid up for failure.
Here are 5 tips to help our kids to do the right thing.
- Engagement – It’s easy to become disconnected from our kids. Our busy schedules, their school and after-school commitments, and the reality that as kids grow older, they seek independence. This results in less time spent with parents. Investing time with them not only allows the kids to witness you doing the right thing, but they get to practice making the decision to do the right thing while seeking approval in your presence.
- Boundaries – Doing the right thing requires operating within reasonable limits and expectations. Kids must have a clear understanding of the rules. Too often, the rules are arbitrary and shift based on the parent’s attitude or tolerance. If you expect your kids to do the right thing, you must express it, explain it, and limit it within boundaries that are attainable.
- Encouragement – Once you’ve set the rules and boundaries, it’s your duty to help the kid follow them or accomplish the task. It may first require the parent to teach the kid how to do the task, and then integrity checks on their tasks to ensure they’ve chosen to do the right thing. It’s also important for the parents to follow-up on correct actions with supporting words. It takes 30 days to create a life-time habit. Invest 30 days of this process to help mentor the kid’s potential for developing a life pattern for doing the right thing.
- Restoration – A great way to teach the child to do the right thing is to have them actively repair or offer restoration for damages done by not doing the right thing. Whether it’s causing emotional hurt or breaking a sibling’s toy, kids must actively participate in fixing the problem they created. Say, “I’m sorry,” is a start but it takes more than words to create an impact of doing the right thing the next time.
- Emotional – Kids who have yet to get a grip on their emotions often fail to make the right decision. Help kids to understand and process their emotions. Don’t force kids to suppress feelings. Show them you understand, and that while their emotions are valid, emotions should not control their actions.
These principles apply in both traditional and blended families. First, we must do right, model doing the right thing, teach the right thing, and ensure kids embrace doing what’s right as a lifestyle.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Lead from the front,