In “Sowing Parents’ Role in Character Development,” Malcolm Gauld, president of the Hyde School and co-author of the Biggest Job We Will Ever Have, says:

  • “When I was a boy, it seemed that everyone was deeply proud of America’s schools and the values of the students within them. You don’t hear much of that these days. When it comes to our kids, it seems we have devolved to a point where we care more about what they can do than about who they are . . . and they know it. That represents a depressing turn for all of us.”
  • “For decades, American schools, both public and private, have been mired in various efforts to accommodate a perceived decline in the American family. For their part, our schools have followed a doomed strategy as though they believe they can pick up the slack by trying to compensate for what our students are not getting at home. This strategy has led schools to an unspoken pact of accommodation with parents. We agree not to challenge your parenting, in exchange for your tax, tuition, and/or philanthropic dollars. It has also caused us to cheat the very students we purport to serve.”
  • “I submit the idea that parental growth is key to character development in the family. Our children don’t need us to be perfect; they need to see our effort and willingness to dig in and focus on our own progress. If parents reach for deeper values, character, and purpose, so will their children.”
  • “After 35 years in the character education ‘camp,’ I’ve learned two things: 1) Character is inspired rather than imparted. (We don’t pour it in; we draw it out.); 2) You must influence the influencers. (And family is the biggest influencer.)”
  • “In recent years, I have also observed that parents tend to be increasingly focused on having a ‘relationship’ with their children, some to the point of obsession. We also have difficulty allowing out kids to fail. In short, parents need help in letting go. Sometimes the best way to let go is to become so preoccupied with your own progress that you have less time to think about your child’s. In time, you will become a role model who inspires your child to go after his or her best.”