In Part 1 of this series I taught you to focus on the fundamentals… first being Balance. In Part 2, I’m going to talk about the 2nd fundamental: Integrity. Integrity is the foundation upon which everything else is built on. Let me repeat that… “Integrity is the foundation upon which everything else is built on!” When integrity fails relationships quickly dissolve and the family begins to break apart because intergrity is the glue that keeps relationships strong and the family united. You may think this is one fundamental you have in the bag, but you may be surprised at how misunderstood this fundamental really is, especially when it’s tied to your son’s negative behavior.
“I believe in integrity. Dogs have it. Humans are sometimes lacking it.” – Cesar Milan
No Integrity = Bad Behavior
Integrity brings openness, honesty, faith, hope and trust. Without it there is chaos, confusion, resentment, and most of all fear. Now which would you rather have in a relationship? Seems like a silly question, but many parents are completely unaware as to how this seemingly ordinary fundamental, when not used properly, can cause so much havoc at home. An environment void of integrity is a breeding ground for negative behavior.
Now, are you ready to put a stop to your son’s negative behavior? I really wish it were that easy, but it’s not. Problem is, the only person someone can truly change is himself. Unfortunately it’s impossible for someone to work on himself when they believe the fault lies with someone else or something else. They have a name for this, they’re called excuses. Making excuses are one of the easiest things to do and one of the hardest to recognize. I mean, what could be simpler than passing the buck? What about you.. have you made excuses recently, perhaps for your son? Have you ever defended and justified his negative behavior? If so, don’t feel bad.. all parents do this to some degree, it’s practically hard-coded into a parent’s DNA and it’s often done to shield you or him from pain or hurt. But, ask yourself… when you make excuses, is that helping him? Does it support his progression into manhood or hinder it? When parents make excuses for their son, they shield him from the one thing he needs to see, hear and understand… the truth. Instead of him being accountable for his actions or lack thereof, parents often make excuses, pointing the finger at things that are beyond his control, like him being adopted or the traumatic divorce he experienced at a young age or the “other” parent’s long list of follies and indiscretions, or his immature and rebellious friends or the mediocre public school system, and don’t even get me started on his ADHD, ADD, OCD, ODD or anything else with a ‘D’ and the list goes on and on. Parents often use these kinds of excuses to deflect any accountability for their son’s behavior away from the them. Sound like an integrity problem? In many instances the son actually adopts these same excuses as his own and then uses them as a crutch to explain why he’s lazy, fat, angry, depressed, unmotivated, irresponsible, disrespectful, selfish, etc. which only reinforces his current behavior. With that said, the first step to increasing your integrity is tossing the excuses out the window and taking ownership for the situation! Good news is you can start right now and what better person to start with than yourself. When you make excuses for your son’s negative behavior, you are like a dog chasing his own tail, you’re left dizzy, tired and you get absolutely nowhere.
Chiefs don’t make excuses, Indians do. In my last post I talked about the need for young men to learn how to be chiefs not just indians. Yes, the goal is to teach your son how to be a good chief and a good chief always require of themselves first, before they require it of others, meaning they examplify. Do you remember what that means? If not click here and get reacquainted. Truth is, you can’t expect your son to be honest if you yourself are not. You can’t expect him to be on time if you’re not on time. You can’t expect him to be patient if you’re not patient. So if you want your son to stop making excuses, then you must stop making them. Unfortunately, integrity has taken a backseat to things of a more convenient nature these days. Why? Because having integrity is hard, unpopular… not to mention risky. You can lose friends, you can lose promotions, jobs and even popularity sometimes when you stick to it. But… the good news is, you will always, always gain more by having mastering this fundamental than you will by not having it.
Integrity: Is Love to Blame?
As I mentioned earlier, parents are often confused as to the role integrity plays in the home, particularly with their son and his behavior. The truth is, integrity is so much more than just telling the truth… it’s also about following-through in what you say; it’s about doing what you say you will do. So, do you? Do you follow through with what you say you will? Think about that for a moment. For example, have you ever told your son that he would have to find a job within a specified time frame only to find yourself repeating the same thing 2, 3 or even 6 months later? Have you ever told your son that he would have to pay for his own gas, food or have to clean his room, go to church or help around the house as a condition of living in your home? Well… does he do them? Does he follow through? I’m assuming the answer is “NO”. I’ve heard this story countless times and when I ask parents why they can’t “follow-through” on their promises, the answer is always, “but I LOVE him too much to throw him out on the street or to take away his car, computer, credit card, phone, etc..” Wait a second… your reason is “you LOVE him too much?” Does that mean LOVE is to blame here? Of course not. Love is not the reason you can’t follow-through on your promises, a lack of integrity is.
“Denial, they say, stands for “Don’t even notice I am lying.” Human beings are the only animals who are happily lied to by our own minds about what is actually happening around us.” – Cesar Milan
So why won’t your son follow-through with what he says he will do? Plain and simple… your son doesn’t believe you. The reason he won’t follow-through is because you don’t follow-through. Why does your son lie to you, yell at you, guilt-trip you and treat you with disrespect? INTEGRITY is the reason. Where there is NO INTEGRITY there is NO TRUST. Where there is NO TRUST there is NO RESPECT and where there is NO RESPECT there is absolutely no and I mean no INFLUENCE. Do you think you can help your son change his life and his attitude without INFLUENCE? Not on your life! Trust, respect and influence help people change and without them you have zero… nothing! Integrity is the answer.
“This is where you measure your integrity… to have a relationship with a dog you must be honest, you need integrity to create loyalty.” -Cesar
A Bridge of Trust
The dictionary defines integrity as: being complete, undivided or incorruptible. I like to think of integrity as a bridge. Would you even think twice about driving over a bridge in which the integrity of the bridge was in question? Of course not! Then why do you expect your son to? The relationship with your son is that bridge I speak of and if you want to change his negative behavior, you will have to strengthen the integrity of that bridge first. This bridge to manhood is a long, high and scary journey. Your son is on one side of that bridge and he knows if he stays on that side he remains a lonely and scared Indian; a little boy with very little experience and zero confidence. He also knows that if he crosses that bridge he begins life as a Chief, where the pressures of life are heavy and the ever-increasing mantle of responsibility is daunting. This is where parents try desperately to get their son to cross that bridge without first thinking about the integrity of the bridge. Parents believe… “if he would only do as I say he would be on the other side by now” but have you ever really thought about why he won’t cross the bridge? The reason he doesn’t cross is because he doesn’t trust the integrity of the bridge (or the relationship) and so he dare not cross it. Instead he shrinks. He hides. He avoids. He makes excuses. He runs the opposite direction. He lies to you instead of saying, “I don’t trust you.”
This is where parents become frustrated, annoyed and often reactive because instead of seeing things as they really are they see their ‘failure to launch’ son as lazy, defiant and disrespectful when in fact he’s scared, fearful and frightened. The parental focus is placed on the son’s inability to find or keep a job, go to college, make friends, manage his money and so forth when the problem is the integrity of the bridge, not his lack of skills and desire to change. Instead of fixing the bridge parents apply more and more pressure, pushing him forward without even thinking about the integrity of the bridge; this only increases his fear and distrust in crossing it. It’s a vicious cycle and the only way to stop it is to focus on repairing the bridge.
“Trust is the strongest bond you can have with your dog, but you can’t clock the process of building trust, especially with a fearful dog. It takes as long as it takes.” – Cesar
So, now that you know the real problem is the integrity of the bridge, how do you repair it? Well, after countless hours of listening to parents talk about their sons, here are 3 of the most common things I’ve found to be missing from the relationship.
#1: FAITH. Now is not the time to be afraid. Be optimistic and hopeful. Believe in your son and in his abilities to succeed. How can your son have faith in himself, if you don’t? Your children know when you’re scared, when you’re afraid and insecure. If there is one thing your son needs, it is a calm reassuring voice that simply says, “I believe in you.” When you rescue him from life’s obstacles… what you are really saying is “I don’t believe you can do this without me.” Ouch!
#2: FOLLOW-THROUGH. You can’t trust someone who doesn’t follow-through with what they say. The age-old saying is true, “actions speak louder than words”. Set clear and reasonable expectations and no matter what, follow through with the consequences, whether good or bad. Your son might not like you for it, but he will begin to trust you, then respect you and respect means influence!
#3: FOCUS. Bring things back into focus. What’s really important right now? Is it your son or other things like work, mowing the lawn, washing the car, Monday night football or your favorite show Modern Family? If your son is important to you then show him. Give him your time and attention and put more of the focus on where it belongs. Go on a walk with him, talk with him, listen to him and learn about him. Focus on what matters most… family.
A Quick Summary:
Negative behavior breeds in environments where integrity is either weak or non-existent. Making excuses and not following-through is the fastest way to destroy integrity in the home. Whether or not your son decides to become a chief or remain an indian will highly depend on the integrity of your relationship with him. 3 ways to improve the integrity of your relationship with your son is to: have faith in him, follow-through on your promises and focus on what’s most important… family.
Coming up next week:
Next week in Part 3 of this series “Can the Dog Whisperer stop my son’s negative behavior?” you will learn the 3rd fundamental: LOVE. But wait you say, didn’t you say LOVE is what got me in trouble to begin with? Well, yes and no. It’s all about how we show our love. There are good ways and then there’s bad ways. Next week we are going to talk about both.
About The Author
Brook Price dedicated himself to helping others early in his life. He grew up in Sunny Orange County California, then joined the Marine Corps at the age of 21 serving five and half years as a helicopter crew chief and then as chief accountant. His journey with this type of work began when he volunteered as a Young Marines Instructor during his time in the Marines, helping kids get off the street, improve their lives and develop as a leader. After his tour Brook left the Marines to pursue a career in experiential therapy by attending Southern Utah University where he majored in outdoor recreation with a minor in psychology.
Brook has seventeen years experience working for a variety of different therapeutic and transitional programs across the nation. His thirst for knowledge drove him to learn and study successful therapeutic models and programs across the country, most notably Outward Bound. Brook has experience working with therapeutic, residential, military, wilderness and transitional programs for adults and adolescents.
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