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Character Is the Key: How to Unlock the Best in Our Children and Ourselves (Book Review and Giveaway)

Posted Jan 25 2010 10:23am

We hear a lot about “character” these days, especially when it comes to our politicians, athletes, and movie stars. Our children often hold these people in high esteem, so we worry when their idols have less-than-admirable character. Some schools even have character education classes in an attempt to teach kids about honesty, fairness, and integrity. This is terrific, but it’s also important to mold our children’s character in the home. It’s our job as parents to help our kids develop an inner compass so they know right from wrong, have strong moral values, and look at life positively. So, how can we do that when the world outside our homes seems to guide kids in a different direction?

A great start is to read psychotherapist Sara Dimerman’s new book, Character Is the Key: How to Unlock the Best in Our Children and Ourselves. Dimerman points out that kids are great mimics, and therefore parents can build strong character in their kids by modeling it in their own behavior. Sounds simple, right? But we all know that when the stresses of life take over and our kids are behaving poorly, “crazy mom” or “angry dad” (those are my terms!) often take over. It’s easy to say we should model good behavior, but it’s much more difficult to actually do it. Dimerman recognizes the difficulty in this and shows readers how to “model with intention.”

But all this leads to the question: “If my children are having difficulties, does that mean my character is lacking?” Being a mom of less-than-perfectly-behaved kids, I was very interested in Dimerman’s response:

“No, it doesn’t. Parents who want help with their children are people of good character. The problem is that we don’t always show our best side to our kids… [W]e may unconsciously channel poor behaviours that our own parents used, and beyond that, as working parents we are often too busy or too tired to summon our best. And it’s partly about awareness: parents aren’t always conscious of how they come across to their kids, and how with a few small tweaks, they can learn to model the characteristics they would like to see in them. That’s what modeling with intention is all about.”

Dimerman provides strategies for unlocking the best in our children -- and in ourselves -- and then gets specific with techniques for acquiring the attributes of empathy, fairness, courage, honesty, initiative, integrity, optimism, perseverance, respect and responsibility. Character Is the Key gives parents hope and the tools they need to raise kids with good character and bright futures.


Sara Dimerman has generously offered to give a copy of Character Is the Key to one lucky reader of this blog! For your first (required) entry, please visit her website at and leave a comment here sharing something you learned.

You may earn optional, additional entries by:

- Following me (@ParentingAuthor) and author Sara Dimerman (@helpmesara) on Twitter and tweeting about this giveaway. You may do this twice a day. Leave a separate comment with the URL of each tweet. (It’s easy to tweet this giveaway by using the Bookmark button at the bottom of this post.)

- Following Susan Heim on Parenting through Google Friend Connect. Click on the “Follow” button on the left sidebar. Leave a comment.

- Putting a button for Susan Heim on Parenting on your blog (the code is in the upper right-hand column of this site) and/or a text link on your blog roll. Post a comment with your blog’s URL.

- Posting this giveaway on your blog with a link to this page. Leave a comment with a direct link to the post. (3 entries; leave a separate comment for each)

- Listing Susan Heim on Parenting as one of your Favorites on Technorati. (See “Add this Blog to My Technorati Favorites” banner on the left sidebar.) Leave a comment with your Technorati user name.

- Subscribing to Susan Heim on Parenting via email, RSS and/or Kindle (see sign-up options on left sidebar). Leave a comment for each subscription method.

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments received by Sunday, February 7, 2010, at midnight ET. Please leave an email address on one of your comments if it’s not available on your Blogger profile. Winners must respond within 72 hours or another winner will be drawn. U.S. addresses only.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.
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