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Integrity is the value that ensures the purity of all other values, the bedrock from which we build strong character. British writer, C.S. Lewis, wrote, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

Model Integrity
We help our children tune their built-in moral compass not by telling them what to do, but by showing them. Be diligent in self-monitoring words and actions; “Do as I say!” is not nearly as effective as “Do as I do!” Children tend to interpret things literally, blurring the abstract lines between a seemingly harmless white lie and a more sinister bald-faced lie—potentially conveying to an impressionable young mind that it’s ok to be dishonest. Even when we don’t realize it, children are always watching; model integrity at all times.

Intervene with Violations of Integrity Immediately
Children make mistakes. If their actions betray the integrity we expect, a good father should intervene right away. First, hit pause on the situation. Make eye contact. They’ll know why. Give them a moment to think about why they chose to behave the way they did. Calmy, yet sternly, ask them to explain what happened. As they speak, listen intently.

Then, communicate that falling short of certain standards will not be tolerated in our household. With respect, love, and confidence, remind them that one of dad’s duties is to discourage any childhood behaviors that might put them on a path to becoming a dirty, rotten scoundrel of an adult.

Reward Good Behavior
Parents punish bad behavior but rarely praise good behavior. Nourish the growing roots of integrity by specifically thanking children or rewarding them with something we know they will appreciate when they go out of their way to do the right thing. Acknowledge them by making their favorite meal or taking them to their favorite restaurant, express admiration for their integrity; this type of recognition supports strong character development.

Read Inspirational Stories
So many biographies tell real-life stories of heroes and heroines throughout history; many of them written specifically for children. Check out so many books written about people like Harriet Tubman, Mahatma Gandhi, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and William Wallace.

Watch Inspirational Movies
So many blockbuster movies showcase protagonists who rely on truth, honor, and courage to stand against adversity, overcoming challenges by relying on integrity. A short list includes movies such as, Dr. Suess: The Lorax, Tangled, Mulan, Monsters, Inc., Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Nanny McPhee, Shrek, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Elf, How to Train a Dragon, Inside Out, Liar Liar, Moana, Rudy, and Jerry Maguire.

Fathers who walk the walk raise children who are far more likely to possess integrity than fathers who only talk the talk. As important as it is to earn good grades and develop life skills, these count for nothing without integrity. When children learn to make decisions based on an honorable system of values, they are far more likely to live fulfilling lives of meaning and purpose.

“The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” —Proverbs 11:3 KJV


Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
(4 – 8 years)

In this award-winning book, acclaimed author Carole Boston Weatherford and bestselling artist Kadir Nelson offer a resounding, reverent tribute to Harriet Tubman, the woman who earned the name Moses for her heroic role as the leader of the Underground Railroad.

The Story of George Washington

The Story of George Washington: A Biography Book for New Readers by Lisa Trusiani (6 – 10 years)

George Washington became the first president of the United States of America and is known as the father of our country. Before winning American independence from England, he was a hardworking kid who enjoyed challenging himself in school and sports. He learned that overcoming challenges in his life would help make him a great leader.

Be a King

Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by James Ransome (4 – 8 years)

Stamp out hatred. Put your foot down and walk tall. Beat the drum for justice. March to your own conscience. Carole Weatherford’s poetic text encapsulates the moments readers can reenact in their own lives. Learn to follow his example, as he dealt with adversity and never lost hope that a future of equality and justice would soon be a reality. As times change, Dr. King’s example remains, encouraging a new generation of children to take charge and change the world… to be a King.

I am Gandhi

I am Gandhi by Brad Meltzer & Christopher Eliopoulos
(5 – 9 years)

As a young man in India, Gandhi saw firsthand how people were treated unfairly. Refusing to accept injustice, he came up with a brilliant way to fight back through quiet, peaceful protest. He took his methods with him from South Africa back to India, where he led a nonviolent revolution that freed his country from British rule.

Abe Lincoln

Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
(5 – 8 years)

In a tiny log cabin a boy listened with delight to the storytelling of his ma and pa. He traced letters in sand, snow, and dust. He borrowed books and walked miles to bring them back. When he grew up, he became the sixteenth president of the United States. His name was Abraham Lincoln. He loved books. They changed his life. He changed the world.

William Wallace

William Wallace
by Andrew Fisher

By no means prepared by birth, William Wallace nevertheless rose to prominence, leading Scottish forces to break the sequence of English victories, re-energizing and inspiring his countrymen in the process. While others, ostensibly his betters, yielded and collaborated, Wallace set an example of constancy and perseverance and became The Guardian of Scotland. Even his terrible death in London in 1305 can be seen as a victory—it inspired his countrymen to continue fighting against English domination.

The Power of Integrity

PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.