The Quest to Highlight Moments of Integrity with my Kids
I thought a lot about integrity this week. Our school does the Positivity Project, and integrity was the character trait we focused on. The word integrity includes telling the truth, doing the right thing and having the courage to live with excellence even when nobody is watching or it is difficult.
As we watched video clips, talked about examples from popular culture and examined our values, I realize that this is one of the traits I want to emphasize most with my children.
My First Experience with Integrity
My parents have shown an amazing amount of integrity over the years. I can 100 percent count on them to be where they say they will be, and always have been able to. Their word is golden. If they say they will do something, it will happen. I have always admired this. My parents’ example growing up, and my faith are two of the reasons I strongly value integrity today. It has been interesting to think about integrity over my lifetime. I especially enjoyed thinking back to examples in my life growing up.
A Lack of Integrity
Growing up I remember getting in trouble for stealing butter from a table at the luncheon. One of my mom’s friends had us over and I decided that the stick of butter on the table looked too good not to try. And so I took it upon myself to eat a few pieces with my fingers.
Right before lunch, the question was asked about who took the butter, I decided not to answer.
I remember lying to my parents in 3rd grade a few times, which was followed up by a visit to the pastor at our church. As a parent, I realize that kids don’t lie to make us upset. They lie because they don’t have a better strategy. They also don’t want to disappoint us and aren’t sure what to do.
From the Perspective of an Employee
My first job was a sales associate at K-mart. We had an undercover cop who would walk around the store dressed as a normal guy who tried to catch people shoplifting. He was able to bust several people. I remember one of the girls he arrested, I was called to sit in on the situation and be the other female in the room. This girl recently out of high school had stolen over a 150 dollars in makeup. She seemed very upset and devastated. I later found out that she had been recently caught shop lifting in several stores.
When I waited tables we had access to a lot of food items. I remember one of the first nights a fellow employee asking what we were able to freely eat. I thought that asking for clarification was a really good strategy.
What I Looked For In a Husband
Growing up with parents that showed integrity made an impression on me. As I began college and started dating finding someone who also valued integrity was important. Thinking back to the years before we were married, and now after being married for almost 18 years, integrity is still valued highly. I have not been stood up, and can count on my husband’s words with complete certainty.
As a Runner
Not only do I try and run with integrity in mind, and do my best every race, I make sure not to lie about the experience that I had. Sometimes the reason for poor results was simply poor training. When I think about giving my all in a race, I have to constantly come back to that question when I am ready to mentally give up.
Running with integrity also means being honest during a race. It means running the full mileage and not cutting the course short. It means paying for a race even when you might not get caught.
I remember the first time I heard about a person running a “Bootleg Marathon”. Before the Chicago Marathon, a friend of mine had invited another friend to dinner. He told us that he was running a Bootleg Marathon.
He explained that he had not paid for the race and would most likely be thrown out during the last mile right before the finish line. I could not believe someone would run this kind of race. It bothered me. A few years later a friend of mine talked of running the Boston Marathon. She had not qualified and was part of the huge pack of runners that would start after the last official runners crossed the starting line. This bothered me for two reasons. First of all, if you tell people you ran the Boston Marathon, you better have done it officially. It is a life goal for so many people, myself included. And secondly, when people don’t pay for races, the cost and resources are forced to increase over time.
There is no free Gatorade.
As a Mom and Teacher
There are numerous times that I label something as stealing when kids reference things that could happen. Participating in the Positivity Project at our school allows for students and I to spend an entire week on Integrity. I also find that one of the biggest areas I am addressing in the classroom is connected to plagiarism. Today students believe that it is an option to freely use pictures online regardless of who they belong to. When there is an opportunity to point something out, I make sure to take it and label the action what it is.
Stealing is stealing. When people do not give credit to pictures, websites, music or movies- that is stealing.
I am Fortunate
I feel incredibly fortunate that my parents set me up with a life where I was introduced to what was right and wrong at an early age. My parents have introduced me to a faith that allows me to be convicted and lean into truth. I am fortunate to have kids that understand the word integrity. I am fortunate to live in a time where integrity is valued and there are examples of it in everything I experience.