Family Talk: Living and teaching integrity
One Friday night, not long ago, my wife and I exited a restaurant to discover our parked car had been whacked by another car. It wasn't like the other person tore our bumper off, but it wasn't a little ding either. It was the size of two fists and streaked with an orange paint smear. I immediately looked on the windshield to see if the car smacker had left me a note of apology with insurance information.
No such luck.
This wasn't the kind of car whack that the other driver wouldn't have noticed. They had to have known, and they had to have known it was their fault. They had to have known the right thing was to leave a note on my windshield with their insurance information. As they drove off, they had to have known they acted wrongly.
Or did they know? Maybe they grew up in a home where driving off, without a note, after you whack a car is normal life. Maybe they had parents or guardians who never taught them about right and wrong.
I knew a young man once who confessed he had lied about something. I told him I thought he needed to go back to the person he lied to and make things right by telling the truth. He looked at me incredulously and said, “My mom always taught me that’s what I should do if I’m in a jam. Lie.” Maybe the person who whacked my car grew up with a mom like that. Still ... I think they knew what should have been done.
You and I, in our heart of hearts, know the difference between right and wrong. We should be actively living and teaching our family members to always act on the right and reject the wrong. I hope you tell your kids, “In this family, we don't lie, even about little things. We don't cheat even when no one is likely to find out. We act with integrity, because that's how this family operates.” I hope, even more, you live that example in front of your children.
Especially when you whack my car in a parking lot.
Jim Priest is CEO of Sunbeam Family Services and can be reached at email@example.com.