Jackie Gingrich Cushman

I'm not sure how it started, but at some point over the past year, when my children begin to relate some hardship in their lives -- tough tests, tough teacher or coach -- I began responding that they should think of the obstacle as "character development" rather than as an insurmountable challenge.

"Character development."

I must have been using this phrase more than I realized, and of course it has come back to haunt me.

Last week, my daughter used it when I was telling her all that was happening in my life: my mother in the hospital (she is getting out today), my father running for president, loads and loads of dirty clothes, and two children on summer vacation.

"Think of it as character development, Mom."

When we go through challenging periods -- especially really hard, long, drawn-out challenges -- these periods of our lives end up forging our characters, just as iron is forged into steel under great heat and pressure. The process is often painful, but it can produce great results if the core stands firm.

As a nation, we are in the middle a challenging period, a period that will determine the character of our country. We are engaged in a philosophical political war about who controls the power in our country. This can be seen in the current fight about who controls our country's purse strings and how they should be controlled.

"This is a power struggle between the 80 percent of the American people who believe in a citizen-centered government and the 20 percent who believe in a Washington-centered government, and that power struggle is as deep and as real as anything since the Civil War," said presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (my father), Tuesday night on Sean Hannity's television show on Fox News.

The current battle in this war is about whether the government debt ceiling should be increased and, if so, how.

Who has the power?

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.