We want to create an atmosphere within our home that brings out the best in our kids. How can we accomplish this?

When my wife and I realized we were going to be parents, we wanted to have a bigger picture of our job, and we broke our job down into basically four parts. 

We saw that we had to create an atmosphere within our home that automatically brought the best out of our kids. We called it an atmosphere of grace. 

And then we wanted to make sure that we were focusing on the real driving needs of their heart. They need to know that they are secure, that they are significant, that they have strength for the future. 

And then we wanted to build character into them. That’s that internal metal that they really need to really stand strong. 

And then we wanted aim them in the right direction—not at success, but at true greatness. 

Now, on that third level, the character level, this is where so much of our kids’ ability to make wise choices comes from. And we distilled down the whole character level of parenting to six character traits. And just let me list these things off, almost like a laundry list, and then you can take or leave them, decide what you want to do with them, but we found that there are six things that when you build these into a child’s life, these are the things that help them handle rejection, stress, feeling alone, being afraid, being tempted, having to make strong choices when everybody is telling you to go the other direction. 

And here they are. 

We found that they had to have a strong faith. 

We wanted to build integrity into their heart, where they understood right and wrong and they lived by it. 

Poise. Practical poise. Poise is that ability to balance between the highs and lows, and the extremes of life. We wanted to have them life their life where the bubble is far more in the middle, and they weren’t at the whims of everything going on around them. 

Disciplines. Notice an “s” at the end of the word. We wanted to build that structure around them that confined them in such a way that it maximized their potential. Much like, you take the rails of a train. You see this massive freight train go by, and it might be a mile long. It’s pulling all this enormous weight. But it can only go where the tracks are laid. It’s disciplined to those tracks. When it stays on the tracks, it’s extraordinary what it can do, its potential. But if a train goes off the tracks, it’s just a bunch of metal, twisted metal, this debris, it’s nothing. So, we wanted to build disciplines into their life. 

And then we wanted to build endurance, a character trait called endurance—the ability to stay on the job and not back down. 

And then the last one is courage. Courage is the ability to do what you ought to do, no matter what the circumstances. My favorite definition of it, though, is from the late John Wayne. He said, “Courage is when you are scared to death, but you saddle up anyway.” 

Character makes all the difference in the world—and if you are deliberate about building faith, integrity, poise, disciplines, endurance, and courage into your kids, you are setting them up to take on the future with confidence. And you can do it.