In this post I aim to summarise some key thoughts on what I have personally learned from the 1st chapter of our Growing Kids God’s Way parenting course on “How to Raise a Moral Child”.
This lesson is jam packed with precious truths but here’s just some ways i’m learning to transfer theory into practical application at home.
My husband and I are so delighted to facilitate this great and life changing course, and to be able to do it with a bunch of parents who are likeminded in going over and above their parenting legacy is just simply too beautiful.
I hope that you’d be blessed as you take a little peek on some of these lessons God has so wonderfully taught me through Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo 🙂
Key Principles Review and Home Applications
1. The belief in a transcendent, personal God is a necessary presupposition if one intends to establish ethical laws that are absolute and universal. And of all the ethical systems in the world, there is no higher standard or virtuous motive directing moral behaviour than that which comes from the Bible.
* We must individually experience Christ so that we can know of His love and plan for our lives.
* We must practice godly character until it becomes a habit, until it becomes intrinsic in our own hearts
* We must model godly character to our children in our daily interaction with them, and not just “tell” them.! – this simply mean we try our best to keep offences short, to apologise when we wrong our spouses & children, to be honest, considerate of others and transparent in our weaknesses and desire to grow.
* We must develop a positive atmosphere at home – in the words of Josh McDowell (“Right from Wrong”) – “we cannot impart truth to our children apart from honest, meaningful relationships. Simply occupying a position of authority by no means guarantees that you can effectively teach a young person right from wrong. Anyone who wishes to pass on biblical truths and values to someone else must begin by developing a strong, positive relationship with that person.” (On building strong positive relationship, please refer to this post)
Take a moment to consider how you can practically focus on moral and character training at home. Do you have an intentional structure in place in your everyday activity? How do you make character training attractive to your kids?
In our home, we try to immerse ourselves in the Word of God with our kids by using the following methods:
1) “Circle Time” – sitting together over snack to do scripture memory game, catechism, books on values/characters (because it is consistently done over dessert, the kids enjoy and look forward to this time).
2) “Lap Book Craft” – this is a great little tool for kids to collate what they have learned about a particular topic. So we may do a bible study on the character of “gratitude” for example, then i’d ask my daughter to put together everything she has learned thus far on gratitude.
3) “Reward Charts” – for good virtues we want to elevate or a particular character we are working on with specific child.
4) “Bible and Breakfast” – I find it such a great joy to be able to do a quick devotional as my littlies are munching away at their breakfast (and there are days when I’d be in my PJ, slurping my coffee with one hand, another hand holding onto my fidgety 9 month old while trying to read the bible at the same time to all 3 kids and having those “aha” moments when the kids actually understand and assimilate what the Word of God is saying – these moments are gold! So many times when it is my husband and I whose hearts are pierced because the Bible is speaking to us personally!)
2. We should not base our conducts towards others based on how valuable they are to us, nor any intrinsic value found in our humanity, but on how beloved they are to God.
As we begin to live a life conscious of the preciousness of others around us, we will begin to develop a heart of virtue ourselves. Please refer to your workbook the verses that point towards “others centeredness”.
3. Understand that regardless of the unique temperament and personality of our children, the standard for moral training remains the same.
What does this mean for our parenting style?
We should stop excusing our kids’ behaviour by saying that “he’s just all boy – he’s just hard”. We should take a note of what we have to work with, be consistent in our training, apologise to others affected by humbly saying “We are working on that at home” and receive the fact that instead of lowering the standard, we should raise our children to that one standard found in the Bible.
Remember that the most effective teaching times is during “teachable moments” – moments of non conflict where we are cuddling them, or have them sitting on our laps, when the meal is being served, when families gather together over a fun game, when the children do not feel they have to defend themselves. You can plan lots of teachable moments by structuring your children’s day so that you accomplish all your training goals in the midst of your family activities!
On the other hand, we should also be liberated from the false guilt of trying to make our kids “perfect”. Remember that this course is about helping parents raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord – to help parents raise children who have the moral capacity to know right from wrong, good from evil.
4. Remember to go hard on elevating the good, rather than suppressing the evil.
We need to remember that when we tell our children what to do, that we often only tell then what is wrong and what not to do, rather than what is right and what they should do. This type of training leads to a serious moral compromise because we are training them to know how to behave rather than to understand the whys behind that behaviour. From the Ezzo’s mouths – “Please realise that it is not enough to teach your children to act morally – you must teach them to think morally”.
Change the way we give instructions! Instead of saying “Can’t you two stop fighting” instead, say “Can you two agree to share” – a simple switch in our parenting would produce great result! (paraphrased from Mom’s Notes Vol 2)
Character training starts with being others focussed – (From Moms Notes Vol 2) “ When we talk of elevating virtues in the character training of our children, we need to put the virtues of being others focussed in front of them, thus directing or pointing them toward the direction you want them to go”
5. Remember not to be a legalist – a legalistic parent is concerned about conforming behaviour irrespective of the context.
Moral training really begins with us, parents! We can’t lead our children further than where we’ve been.
How do we embed moral principles in the hearts of our children?
For example when you offer your child a drink and your child does not say thank you – you correct her by saying “we have to say thank you to learn appreciativeness because the Bible says in all things be thankful…we want to tell others that we are thankful for being given a drink” (please refer to the attached character training list) – in this way you are linking specific character with a specific virtue (appreciativeness for e.g) and you then in other circumstances apart from giving a drink, the child will learn to be appreciative to all.
Remember to accompany our instruction with providing them with “the moral reason why”. In some cases it is suffice to say “because mummy says so”, or giving them the practical reasons attached to our instruction, for instance “because it is not safe”… but giving them the moral reason why always points back to the virtues contained in the Bible – this means we must understand the virtuous motivation behind to prevent what the Ezzos called “robotic behaviour”.
Thank you for reading 🙂
In my other posts I aim to share how we can do the above points in our everyday life and how moral training looks in practical living!
“We can’t change old patterns without a new direction If we don’t have a clear picture of where we need to go, today’s resolve easily succumbs to tomorrow’s discouragement” (Gary and Ann- Marie Ezzo, from Reaching the Heart of Your Teens”)