My ex-husband and I have brought Son up as well as we can. I'm sure we have made mistakes, the same way all parents do, but we also know we have imprinted our deepest values on him.
Son and I are currently staying in a hotel. This evening, I sent him down to the vending machine to get himself a Diet Coke. Before he got back to our room, I could hear his footsteps thundering down the hall as he ran back. (Running in hotels is something he knows not to do.)
"Amah," he panted when he arrived, "I put in the money for my Diet Coke but THREE came out. I only took one, I left the other two because I'm honest."
I told him to go back immediately and GET the other two, otherwise his honesty would be wasted by the next person to walk by. When he returned to our room, I called the front desk and explained the situation to the manager: my son had paid for one Coke, he had received three, and he wanted to return the other two to the appropriate department. The manager (who happens to be a good friend of mine, and knows Son's moral character very well) thought this was wonderful, and offered the suggestion that the hotel was so impressed by his honesty that they wanted to give him the other two Cokes as a reward for reporting this.
And I was all, "Dude, but then what the hell am I going to do with three Diet Cokes??" And, really? Why should he get a reward for doing the right thing, the obvious thing?
My child may not have had the benefit of a religious education in his life, but he does know the Cardinal Rule: Don't take anything that isn't yours.
Don't steal, because it's not yours. Don't defame someone's name, because it's not yours. Don't write graffiti on rocks, or carve things on trees, because it's not yours. Don't lie, as anything that happens because of that lie is not yours.
It's really not such a difficult concept.
But I am still filled with such, such pride when Son lives as he has been taught to live.