By Dr. Rob Furey
Saint Louis Priory School Counselor
I need a good roofer, a reputable window replacement company, and a great rheumatologist. Yet I know precious little about joints or home construction. So, as is usually the case, I will probably make my choices based on reputation.
I suspect your son is at Priory because of – as much as anything – Priory’s reputation. Furthermore, I will predict that your business will succeed or fail by its reputation. A good reputation produces success. A poor one leads to failure. It is often that simple.
Your strong willed son may insist he doesn’t care what other people think of him. Most adolescents grow out of this. A good summer job will help. The work world can teach your teens that the best form of advertising is a good reputation.
Still, that strong willed young man has a point. As important as reputation is, it is not as important as integrity. In my work, for instance, I occasionally have to tell people things they don’t want to hear. As a university professor, I sometimes had to give students unflattering feedback. As an administrator, I fired employees. These actions, at least in the short run, were not reputation builders. Even the best decisions are not always well received.
It has been said, “If you don’t have any critics, you’re probably not very good.” I understand the sentiment. Not everyone appreciates high standards. Not everyone applauds those who take the high road. Take it anyway.
A good reputation does not require your son to please everyone. It does, however, demand that he be an honorable, hard working lad who cares about people. If he develops these qualities, his admirers will far outnumber his critics.
Young adolescents (i.e. 13 to 15) may only care how they are seen by their peers. By 16 this should be changing. Your 16-year old should begin to value how he is received by a larger social circle that now includes adults. To assist in his development, include a discussion of reputation in your parent-son talks. Explain the meaning and complexities of reputation in your own life. Make this an essential life lesson you hope to hand your son.
We want our kids to be successful. Success requires an understanding of the importance of reputation and integrity. Take time to teach them the significance of both.