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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 17, 2009

The ABC's of character development

By Monica Quock Chan

It surprises me that so many kiddie products sport the ABCs. The recent emphasis on early brain development has undoubtedly encouraged alphabet embellishments on everything from sippy cups to onesies.

Character development, however, trumps intellectual growth. To that end, here are the ABC's that my husband and I aspire to cultivate in our 'ohana as our keiki mature:

A Aloha: Living alooooha both inside and outside of the home.

B Bravery: Doing the right thing even when it's difficult.

C Communication: Listening and articulating well.

D Devotion: Expending often unsung time and effort to be loyal.

E Empathy: As the American Indian saying goes: "Walking a mile in another person's moccasins."

F Forgiveness: We all need to forgive and be forgiven; peace comes with moving on.

G Goodness: Old-fashioned goodness has kept its appeal over time.

H Humor: Because of the unpredictability, incongruity and sometimes downright wackiness of life.

I Inspiration: Encouraging and motivating others for good.

J Joy: Being content despite the inevitable ups and downs of life.

K Kreativity: Coming up with innovative solutions (e.g., when a trait that begins with "C" is already listed).

L Love: The overarching virtue that alone could sustain our 'ohana.

M Munificence: For we often have more than we think.

N Niceness: Performing random, and not-so-random, acts of kindness.

O Openness: Being gentle yet honest.

P Patience: Learning daily lessons from our keiki in how to wait ... and wait ... and wait.

Q Quietude: In our whirlwind, hyperconnected world, maintaining a restful and renewing home environment.

R Respect: Treating others with dignity even when we disagree.

S Self-control: Managing emotions, thoughts and actions.

T Thankfulness: Remembering the many blessings we have received.

U Uniqueness: Valuing our 'ohana's distinct characteristics.

V -Visionary: Living life with a higher and outward purpose.

W Wholeness: Nurturing the mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual.

X Excellence: Doing the best we can with our talents and gifts (e.g., the gift of thinking up a quality that actually starts with "X").

Y Youthfulness: Retaining a optimistic and hopeful outlook.

Z Zest: Celebrating a passion for life.

Even though we may never be able to instill all of the above ABCs completely in our keiki, it will be rewarding if in the future they can retain the building blocks of good character. As my husband puts it, we hope to write our children's life stories using the above alphabet.

Monica Quock Chan is a freelance writer who lives in Honolulu with her husband and children.