Integrity Matters
March 1, 2006

Mentors' H.U.G.S. help instill values

Question: (E-219)

Dear Jim:

Where do good values come from?


Values, observed in our behaviors, were taught to us by people who cared enough about our development to monitor how well we lived up to expectations - both theirs and our own.

Values can be constructive or destructive, of course. Positive behaviors include honesty, openness, charity and graciousness. They're instilled by mentors who define, explain, model and coach the young people who they're guiding toward honor and integrity.

Anti-social leaders also carefully nurture those they are training. They praise and reward those who become cunning, manipulative, secretive, selfish and ruthless.

Values, positive or negative, shape a person's future. What destinies are you creating for those who look to you for guidance?

Instilling positive values requires socially responsible individuals who are willing to model constructive values, not simply communicate them.

When the next generation does not see and feel the sincerity of those to whom they are looking for leadership, they are thrown into a vacuum. To fill the emptiness they often turn to alternative role models - and not always good ones.

Gangs and peer groups fill vacuums. Children are vulnerable. As a professional football coach said, just after his 18-year-old son was found dead of an apparent suicide: "You can't give your children too many hugs." To blunt negative attractions, define H.U.G.S. like this:

  • H for humility: Be honest with those you love by humbly acknowledging your concerns and your shortcomings. Communicate the importance of two-way communication to strengthen family life. Be real.
  • U is for understanding: Listen carefully to the hopes and fears of youth. Their challenges are different and require the extended support system - the village - to build a strong and self-confident human being. Acknowledge differences.
  • G is for give: Giving credit is about respecting the efforts of young people who are confronted by the daily values barrage being waged by the media, electronic conveniences and the ever-present Internet.
    Recognize the difficulties.
  • S is for smile:Sharing a supportive smile confirms relationship and affection, not necessarily approval of actions.

Errors are teaching moments, making home the place where constructive values are built and smiles sustain relationships.

H.U.G.S. trump peer group pressures and destructive intimidation. Hugs shape destinies.

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