Parenting for Character Equipping Your Child for Life
Published: 27th July 2005
In this book, Andrew Mullins, Headmaster of Redfield College, Sydney, argues that parents need to help build character: it does not just evolve. He explores how to encourage young people to think independently and make choices that are good for themselves and others. In his experience, young people are damaged by too readily accepting their peer group’s values or messages from the media. They are able to take control of their lives once they acquire…

This is the kind of book that you’ll want to read with a highlighter in hand – and then buy it for a bunch of your other parent friends! Parenting For Character is a breath of fresh air and a welcome antidote to all the helicopter parenting techniques of the 21st century, striking a unique balance between high expectations and high affection with your child.

Can character really be taught? It’s an interesting question to ponder and the resounding answer from author and former school principal Dr Andrew Mullins, is yes. While it’s all too easy to label a certain child ‘bad’, how much of that behaviour was taught to them, even subconsciously, or simply the result of a lack of character training?

The significance of a parent’s influence on a child’s life cannot be overstated – but whether it’s to hold them back or propel them forward is up to you. Character is not something we’re born with. It is something we learn over years of practicing good habits and learning from role models, but the reality is that if the foundation is not laid in childhood, building character is far more difficult in teenage or adult years.

Every parent wants their child to reach their full potential, live morally, work hard, be able to maintain long-term, healthy relationships and have an inner sense of peace. None of this is possible without character. Through the crucial message of forging good habits, Dr Mullins recognises children’s need to know not only that their parents expect great things from them, but that their parents fully believe they can get there.

Emphasis is also placed on being a good example and allowing children to feel the weight of their choices (when the consequences won’t cause harm). “Let your child wear his or her mistakes,[1]” says Mullins, reiterating that what children can do for themselves, they should do for themselves. He advises that parents should “delegate, even if it takes more time to get the job done[2]”. Basically, building character is teaching your kids to think for themselves and consistently do the right thing for the right reasons – regardless of who’s watching. What parent wouldn’t want that for their child?

The writing style in Parenting For Character is conversational and easy to follow. Mullins speaks without judgement and readers can feel his passion for young people reaching their full potential on every page.

You may be wondering, ‘Could I gift this to a family I know who’s not religious?’ Yes, absolutely. While the book comes from a framework of faith, it addresses faith with a very light touch and could still be enjoyable and beneficial for non-Catholic readers.

We hope you enjoy this practical how-to guide as much as we did. May your children be all they can be!

  • Reviewed by: Lil van Wyngaard – Veritatis Publishing

[1] Mullins, A 2020, Parenting For Character, p22.

[2] Mullins, A 2020, Parenting For Character, p72.

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