Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Personality or character?

As a parent we can't change our child's personality. Those are the traits our child is born with that make them uniquely them;

extrovert or introvert?
energetic or calm?

You can often tell these traits in a small baby.

Character is what you are on the inside. It is the result of training by parents and teachers plus experiences and, mostly, choices.

A child's character is a reflection of training. It's not until adulthood that personal choices make a difference.

obedient or disobedient?
respectful or disrespectful?
honest or a liar?

These are learned traits.

If your child is disobedient, you need to do something about it. Not only are they disobeying you; they are disobeying God since He told them to obey you.

It is your responsibility as a parent to teach your child good character.

and just enjoy the personality:-)


  1. Hi, Betty.

    I'm curious -- what goals do you have in mind for your children? What kind of adults do you want them to be?

    I'm guessing (and if I'm wrong, please do correct me! :) ) -- but I'm guessing the answer is something like this: "I want them to be Godly, thoughtful, engaged citizens. I hope they'll agree with me about most issues, but ideally not EVERYTHING -- I want to raise independent adults, not copies of myself. As adults, they should feel comfortable disagreeing with me on matters great and small, without any fear that I'll respond with anger, or scorn, or by withholding affection."

    If that *is* a fair summary, let me ask you: are you training your kids for that outcome? Or are you teaching them that any dissent, any strong sign of independence, will be punished both swiftly and harshly?

    - David

  2. You summarize the goals pretty good:-)

    Let me be clear; rebellion is not the same as disagreeing. It is perfectly possible to disagree in a respectful, non-rebellious manner.

    When my children express a difference of opinion, if that expressing is in a tone of voice or attitude of disrespect, I point out the inappropriate tone and repeat their statement in the correct tone (for younger kids. My older ones don't really need the modeling any more. In fact, they seldom express a difference of opinion in anything other than a polite tone, and if they do, a raised eyebrow will bring a grin and rephrasing. Then we cheerfully go on to discuss the issue, both of us honestly listening to the other).

    And things are different with little ones than big kids. I find many parents pick one age and try to raise their kids that way no matter what; trying to logic it out with a toddler (seriously?!) or trying to over control a teen. Methods and even goals to a certain extent should change with the child's age.

    I wrote this post with a small child in mind. Confession: I was venting.

    A person I know has commented several times that her small daughter (4yo) is SOOO different than her now-grown sons were. "The boys never have treated me with disrespect. She always rolls her eyes at me when I tell her to do something. It's funny how different kids are." with a chuckle and a pat on the girl's head :-(

    Honey, if your older kids were respectful and this one is not its because you are parenting them differently. You are confusing personality (her daughter is more energetic than her boys were, I guess) with character (respect is a learned trait). There is no time a 4yo should be allowed to roll her eyes and ignore her mom! NONE!
    (Blogger limits the number of characters in a comment and I am long winded, so continued...


  3. Now, as a child grows a parent must recognize the difference in maturity and sense the difference in goals. A child should be given increasing freedom, both physically and in opinion as they show the maturity to handle it. This does not mean "as they learn to agree with the parent," but "as they learn to be respectful and mature." They should grow in independence and responsibility. There is no reason for an adult child to be rude to their parent, though they are no longer to obey them once they are adults. At maturity they are responsible directly to God Himself. The parent's job is to bring them to that point, working themselves out of a job.

    Well, the exception is that if they are still living under their parent's roof they should obey the rules of the home. For example, it is the rule of our home that if you are going to be later than expected getting home you call or text so no one worries. That is just polite, not controlling (and Hubby and I call or text if we are going to be out later than expected too. In fact, unfortunately, we had to do just this last weekend when our car broke down while we were out.)

    Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between personality and character trait. It helps to look at the opposite. Is the child an introvert, despite you pushing him to be outgoing? What is the opposite? Extrovert. Is it really better to prefer noise and crowds to solitude? Does God really care one way or another? Of course, the answer is no. Some, in fact, God calls some to be "people people" who are in the midst of the action. Others He calls to be the quite one in the background making sure everything runs right (Bill Gates is an introvert, Donald Trump an extrovert, for example. Both successful men. Meh. Whatever.)

    However, rebellion is never a good attitude towards God. Rebellion should never be encouraged.

    (Sigh, again I find I need to define myself; Obeying God by disobeying world powers that are rebelling against God (i.e. Nazi Germany) is not rebellion. It is obedience in the extreme and quite proper, no matter how rebellious it looks to human authorities. If parents are sinning and wanting the child to sin, it isn't rebellion for that child to [respectfully] refuse, obeying God instead. The difference is in the attitude.)


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