Posted by: coachingparents | December 16, 2009


By Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D.

A few weeks ago, a boy named “Falcon” was thought to have been
launched thousands of feet in the air while inside a “flying saucer”
[a balloon filled with helium].  The incident later turned out to be a
“publicity stunt.” During the balloon’s flight, I got to thinking
about how we launch our children into adulthood.  How do we equip our
children with the necessary character traits that will allow them to
become adults who are fulfilled and thriving?

In his book, “Courage, the backbone of leadership,” Gus Lee with
Diane Elliott-Lee writes, “In our families, universities, schools,
communities, and institutions, we accidentally canceled our central
national life quality program — character development.” Recent
scandals in business, the financial world and politics seem to clearly
demonstrate that as a nation, we have neglected to launch our kids
into adulthood with the character qualities required to reflect a
“national character” based on time-honored values. 

Lee goes on to write, “…we have treated the observations of Moses,
Aristotle, and Confucius as academic trivia questions instead of as
demonstrated truths defining the quality of life.  We actually began
to believe that we no longer needed wisdom.” 

What is some of that wisdom we need to give to our children?  Lee
believes it is contained in two “simple concepts.”  According to him,
principled behavior as adults has two parts: “(1) the establishment of
high core values and (2) courageous behaviors in alignment with those
core values.”

What are some of those “core values” principled parents want to
instill in their children?  Here are a few suggestions.

1. Through your actions, demonstrate to your children, the courage to
stand for those values that have been advocated for thousands of
years.  Aristotle once taught that “courage virtue” was not only the
foundation for happiness, it was the essence of life itself.

2. Learn from the experience of others…those less fortunate than
you as well as from those more fortunate.  It will allow you to
strengthen your compassion for all.

3. Treat all relationships as precious.  It is only within our
relationships that we are able to become fully human… and humane. 
Life is not really about you.  It is about the quality of the
relationships you have and how you contribute to it.

4. Work through any negative habits and “issues” as soon as you can. 
From your childhood, take only those mental, emotional, spiritual and
behavioral habits that equally serve your own best interests and the
best interests of everyone else.  Subordinate your own ego for the
benefit of the larger community.

5. Strive to enhance and improve your emotional intelligence.  
Sometimes, your heart will serve you in ways better than knowledge and
rationality can.

6. Become aware that the “worst of times” can teach you valuable
lessons, reveal important insights, and open you to positive growth.

7. Keep a balance between humility and self-confidence.  Listen! 
Listen to yourself.  Listen more to heroes of history.  Listen to your
parents, your teachers, your colleagues and your intuition.

8. Develop those character qualities that will allow you to trust
yourself in all situations.

9. Demand excellent conduct from others…beginning with yourself and
your own behavior.

10. Practice the virtue of behaving toward others in precisely the
same manner as you want them to treat you.  That is the “golden rule”
of life itself.

If we practiced the above “wise values,” not only could we change
the nature of our national character, we would launch our children
into a thriving adulthood.


Dr. Thomas is a licensed psychologist, author, speaker, and life
coach.  He serves on the faculty of the International University of
Professional Studies. He recently co-authored (with Patrick Williams)
the book: “Total Life Coaching: 50+ Life Lessons, Skills and
Techniques for Enhancing Your Practice…and Your Life!” (W.W. Norton
2005) It is available at your local bookstore or on
Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and
Licensed Psychologist.  He is available for coaching in any area
presented in “Practical Life Coaching” (formerly “Practical
Psychology”).  Initial coaching sessions are free.  E-mail: or


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