integrity. n. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, and being willing to speak and act based on those principles.
Trusting in our knowledge of right and wrong and speaking and acting accordingly is among the most heroic and challenging parts of being human. Your adolescents are at an age when they will be thinking about who they are, what kind of life they want for themselves, and what is most important to them. It is time to have open conversations with them about ethics and priorities.
I mention priorities because your child will inevitably start having to make difficult choices between two things which are both important to them. For example, imagine your child is having fun with a group of friends when the conversation suddenly turns to nasty gossip about a mutual friend or acquaintance. Your teen might experience a painful clash of values at this point. On the one hand, they want to fit in with their friends, and they don’t want to be rude or say anything that will provoke a negative response. On the other hand, they know the gossip is disrespectful and they are not comfortable letting it slide. What do they do? If they choose to stand up for what they believe is right, be proud of them, and give them support, encouragement, and comfort, because they may have to navigate difficult social consequences. Help them understand that integrity is more important than conformity.
Search Institute has identified 40 building blocks of healthy development, known as Developmental Assets, that help adolescents to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Visit us here every Wednesday to read about different ways that you, your family, and your community can take action to help equip our young people develop resilience and achieve success in life.