When you think about it, instilling virtue in our children can be pretty serious business. After all, the adult world is a competitive place, and we want our kids to be prepared. And that leads some parents to bury their children under some pretty harsh standards.
At report card time, a parent wanting their child to learn responsibility may question why their nearly straight A student didn’t get that one grade just a little higher. Or maybe they snap at their teenager if he or she shows the slightest sign of irresponsibility.
But what if, instead of a stern face and a seemingly endless string of lectures, teaching children important virtues could be done with a smile and a laugh?
Well, the good news is it can be, and we’re going to talk about how to do that on our program with author Courtney DeFeo.
Most every parent would love to see, at least in some measure, a list of virtues like these displayed in their children’s character: joy, love, forgiveness, faith, patience, perseverance, respect, responsibility, service, humility, gratitude, and generosity.
But the question is: how – in the midst of all the busyness that goes along with raising kids – do parents teach these virtues to their children?
Probably the most tried and true method is to pass along your values through the daily ebb and flow of life as Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (ESV).
That means we share our beliefs while we’re driving them to school, playing a game, or even taking a stroll through the neighborhood. And we can do it all in a fun way, so there’s fewer lectures and more enjoyable experiences.
To teach gratitude, for example, try to help younger kids see God’s greatness in nature. All it takes is a walk through the park. You draw your kids’ attention to the scenery and say, “Thank You, God, for the trees.” “Thank You, God, for the flowers.” It’s a simple way to help them learn to see that God has given us so much to be grateful for.
Or try Courtney’s suggestion for teaching generosity. She takes her kids into a Dollar Store and hands each of them a few dollar bills. Then they hide the money around the store with a note that says, “We believe it’s better to give than receive. Enjoy the free treat from our family. Merry Christmas!”
It’s all about finding ways to bring the virtues we want our kids to learn into their everyday world and to bring their faith to life in a way that’s not lecturing them. We’ll have more ideas like these on our program, “Fun Ways to Instill Virtue in Your Children,” with author Courtney DeFeo. Join us on your local radio station, online, or on-the-go via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.