Why We Needed Character Badges as Much as Our Children Did
Let me start off by saying that I’m painfully aware of how busy life can be. Everybody has a hundred things to do and in the rare instance that some free time pops up (what’s that?) there’s always something (or someone) lurking to fill it.
I sometimes chuckle to myself when I look back to when Caroline and I were first married. We thought we were busy then! I’m sure if you would have come to me 13 years ago with this need or that I would have made some excuse about being too busy (well, that’s not really true because I’ve always been something of a “yes” man). The point is, we definitely felt busy back then, but nothing could have prepared us for how busy we are now.
Of course, having children raised the bar on busyness exponentially. Suddenly our time was not our own. Before children I used to come home from work, kick my shoes off and snuggle up with Caroline on the couch and read a good book or listen to some Chopin. After children I didn’t even have time to kick off my shoes!
Seriously though, children change things in ways that are difficult to explain. They don’t just affect your time. It’s your care and your concern and your emotions and a host of other things. Just as your children need food to live, they need all of these other things to thrive. Some parents embrace these demands while others try to ignore them. Ignoring them always leads to frustration and even bitterness.
Now for the “ouch” moment - most of us fall between these two extremes. We have our moments of sacrificially investing ourselves into our children, but it can be very easy to allow other demands to get in the way; and it’s often the “noble things” that line up first to stand between us and them. Work is a good example of this.
Caroline and I have been entrepreneurs for most of our married life. If you own a business, or know someone who does, you know that it can be very difficult to get away from your work. If you let it, it will follow you everywhere and it can quickly creep into times that ought to be reserved for your family. This has definitely been our experience.
Some years ago when I owned and operated a lawn care business, I was terrible at managing the barriers between my work and home life. In fact, it was difficult to distinguish the difference between time at work and time at home because almost all of it felt like work time! I was allowing the demands of providing for my family (temporally) to get in the way of providing for them in every other way, and it showed in our children. It was clear to Caroline and I that we needed a change.
If you’ve read the Character Badges ‘About’ page, you know most of the rest of the story, but one thing we’ve left out is how much WE needed Character Badges. That might sound ridiculous, but it’s the truth. When it comes right down to it, we designed Character Badges as an accountability agent for our whole family.
Of course it works differently for children than it does for parents. Listing out various character qualities and forms of behavior on charts is an excellent way to hold your children accountable to the standards you set in your home. Children love to watch the progress they’re making on their Obedience Chart and just the act of having to put a check on their Disobedience Chart, regardless of if there’s a consequence or not, has been a strong deterrent in our home. In short, making an effort to acknowledge as much of your child’s behavior as you can sends a very clear but simple message to your child - there’s good behavior and poor behavior. Good behavior brings blessing. Poor behavior brings consequences.
What about the parents? We’ve found that Character Badges helps us to be accountable to the duty we have to guide, instruct, reward and correct our children. How? Well, for one thing, once you’ve lined out all of the consequences that can come as a result of your children crossing certain lines, you’ll quickly learn that not following through on those consequences basically voids the system. Checks on the Disobedience Chart become meaningless and you’ll lose an effective deterrent to poor behavior.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, parent’s need help at times in being accountable to bless their children! Have you ever said you were going to take your children somewhere nice or buy them something and kept delaying to do it or never did it at all? Character Badges helps with that too. Just try to turn you’re little daughter away when she walks up to you with the Character Coins that she’s worked so hard to earn and says, “I’d like to go on a bike ride with you.” You’d better believe we’re going on a bike ride! :)
So in the end, it all boils down to one word - consistency. Character Badges can’t make you committed to your children but it can help you and them stay consistently accountable to the standards you set in your home. We discovered that this consistent accountability was a missing link in our home and we created Character Badges to help us put it back. Our hope is that it can do the same for you.