I’m so excited to begin this brand-new five day series with you! It’s called The Busy Mom’s Guide to Teaching Character and my prayer is that it will be a challenging and also encouraging time as we reflect on this important aspect of our parenting journey! {You can find out more details about the whole series in the introduction post!}

Today is the first day that 16 bloggers including myself will be sharing with you tips and encouragement for intentional living. Check out everyone’s posts if you have an extra few moments! 

Let’s begin today by considering something that I think is the most essential thing to understand about teaching character in our children before we begin the practical part of this series.

First, a question for you! What does it mean to teach or guide our children’s character? 

I’ve been pondering this question myself the past few months. The conclusion I’ve come to is that often, in teaching character, we focus too much on behavior modification. Even as a Christian mom who has the desire to teach her children about the Lord’s ways, much of my “character training” turns into forcing my will on my kids so that they act and speak in a certain way. My desire for my children to live godly lives is real, but my motives? Not so good.

All my thinking about this character business gave me a chance to ask myself this important question: why do I want to teach my children character? 

The term “character training” is never mentioned in the Bible. And unfortunately at times this term can be found in Christian circles on the same train as behavior modification, which I mentioned before. Because of this I believe that we must be cautious not to equate outward behavior with inward conversion. Teaching character is not about just making our children into “good moral people”. It’s not a matter of getting them to “prove” they are holy by wearing certain clothes or going to church several nights a week. It’s about asking the Holy Spirit to help us {and help them!} as we impart the wisdom, knowledge and understanding of God into their little hearts, all the while pointing them to the cross when they fail.

Because, ahem, they will mess up. And so will we.

So this is where we need to begin: The only solution to each person’s problem with  sin is Jesus Christ! Our main desire for our children should be the same as the Lord’s: that they will belong to Him, saved by His grace, mercy and forgiveness! The wisdom and character they gain as they grow are fruits of the Spirit, not the workings of man. This is such an important truth for our children {and for us} to grasp! When these desires are the driving force behind our efforts, we can be encouraged that our motives are going in the right direction.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:10 

Can I encourage you to ask yourself the same questions I am asking myself? Before we jump into how we can be productive in teaching our children and some practical ways we busy moms can make the most of our time as we guide our little ones along the Way, let’s get honest with ourselves and examine our hearts before the Lord!

Lord, thank you for the blessing of my family. Please forgive me for the times where my motives in teaching my children are not as You’d like them to be. Strengthen in me the desire for my children to belong to You and live for You and bring me to a place where I am relying on You to be my strong tower as my husband and I go about teaching our young ones about Your Word. Give me joy even as I work through the day to day tasks that You have entrusted to me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tomorrow, we are going to talk about laying the groundwork for effective teaching with some practical encouragements for doing devotions with our families, praying with our kids and arming ourselves with the most important tool for teaching character!

What do you hope to gain by teaching your children character? In what ways would you like to change your mindset about this topic?

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7 Comments on The Right and Wrong Motivations for Teaching Character {a.k.a. What Does It Mean to Teach Character in Our Kids?}

  1. Jenn, I am so excited to read the rest of your series! I was actually reading a book TODAY about teaching your children character, so that is really funny that it is the topic you are writing on! God is so cool with details isn’t He? It is very easy to equate good behavior as good character, I am so glad you addressed that and are encouraging us moms to get to the heart of our children. Can’t wait for more!

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