SummaryTruly now, more than ever, we must teach our children the virtue of integrity so they can stand for truth and not collapse even under stress.
Many children get their first formal lesson in integrity from Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss. By being true to his word, Horton, the Elephant, saves the egg, despite nasty weather and ridicule from other animals. “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant, and an elephant’s faithful 100%.”
Integrity can be defined as the quality of having a strong moral code and following it even when it is tough, when no one is looking, or when others mock or ridicule you.
A person with integrity can be said to have no difference or conflict among his or her beliefs, words, and actions. This is an essential virtue in our homeschools.
Instilling this virtue in our homeschooled children has become more critical in recent years. Avoiding the opportunities to weaken our moral code has also become more challenging as well.
Strength in Character
A case in point is the recent development of a new artificial intelligence chatbot called ChatGPT. A student can now enter an assignment into ChatGPT, and it churns out an original essay with no spelling or grammatical errors. Presently, no school, including Seton, can reliably detect a ChatGPT essay.
To address this growing problem, it is good to remember the second definition of integrity. We speak about a building or a bridge having integrity when it is whole and sound – not liable to collapse, even under stress. This is how we want our child’s character to be – strong and unwilling to yield under pressure.
It is critical that we teach our children this virtue, and these days we need to teach it early and aggressively. Our children must stand for truth and virtue and not collapse even under stress. Let our kids know that solid effort is far more important than top grades. “I am proud of you when you work with such diligence.”
Seek out readings and movies that stress integrity. Point out connections between the character’s actions and the virtue of integrity. Aesop’s fable about the boy who cried wolf helps even toddlers understand what can happen when a person is not trustworthy.
Lessons in Integrity
Profiles in Courage, by John F. Kennedy, recounts true stories of men who stood by their convictions, even when forced to pay a steep price for doing so. It is appropriate for junior and senior high school students.
The lives of the saints offer many examples of doing the right thing and not bending to pressure. Seton high school students read A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt, the story of St. Thomas More.
St. Thomas refused to affirm the king’s lie that his marriage was invalid. For this, he lost his position as Lord High Chancellor of England, his income, his freedom, and eventually his life. But kept his integrity!
Start today to form your children into adults with character and integrity.