Character…oh where to begin here. Well I guess I should define what Character means. This is from Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. “By way of eminence, distinguished or good qualities; those which are esteemed and respected; and those which are ascribed to a person in common estimation. We enquire whether a stranger is a man of character.”
So how do we raise children of good “character”? How do we instill the qualities (or traits) that we would like to see in our children? What characteristics do you want to see in your children?
I would say first you want to write down the character qualities you want your children to have. Some of the characteristics I would like my children to have are honesty (integrity), considerate of others, loyalty, faithful, trustworthy, respectful, and kind toward others. As you write down characteristics, ask God for guidance. Read the word and have scripture to back up the characteristics you would like to instill.
Secondly, I will say to set the example. If you want a child who is loyal, faithful, honest or any of the other character traits written down (or not written down even) then they must see examples of that in you. But not just you, in those around them. Their friends, teachers (church or school), anyone with a scope of influence on your child. But it’s not just people, it can even be books. The song “Oh be careful little eyes what you see” comes to mind when talking about influences on your children. They pick up on everything they hear and see. Places you go, things you do, they realize things and will start acting on what they see in their scope of influence. That is why we have to be so very careful. Everything impacts them.
I know that I am not perfect in setting an example either. Daily I struggle. I try really hard to be the best mom I can for my children, but it’s a constant struggle. The struggle really comes from my human nature though. But there is a way to help with the daily struggles. Daily reading God’s word and giving it all to Him are a daily necessity for me. I try to carve out a minimum of 5 minutes a day. But really, my goal is for 15-30 minutes in a day. I recently started limiting my time on Facebook because I found myself perusing my news feed for an hour or two at a time. What would start out innocently as a 5 minute check would be much longer and I wasn’t keeping my promise to dive into the Word. But that is another post that will be coming soon. So I said all that to say that spending time in God’s Word is VERY important, especially when we want to have character traits that we want our children to learn.
Thirdly, I have found several resources to help with character training. Some have been more helpful than others but I tend to keep them all on hand as they use different methods. And since not every child learns the same I have found them all to be very valuable. You can always tweak anything to suit your needs as a family.
A great resource I recently stumbled upon for this was at Heart of Wisdom. The link will take you to a page where Robin has some great info on Character training.
Another resource is Doorposts. They have some pretty awesome resources. One of my favorites is For Instruction in Righteousness. This is a topical guide to help you as you deal with your children. Think of it as a topical Bible for raising children. You can read more about this guide here and also view samples of this great book.
Of course you want to keep your Bible handy. This is the ULTIMATE guide. But how do you know where to find verses on anger, disobedience, fear, lying, tattling, and many more things you will deal with as you raise your children. They will all struggle with things at one point or another, but how can you guide them? My sister-in-law posted this great resource last year and I got it and have been working on it. It is nearly done and I have already been using it even though it isn’t quite completed. It is the Child Training Bible. The Child Training Bible is a reference guide with character, attitude and behavior issues that our children (and sometimes us as parents) can deal with and a Biblical verse on why the behavior is inappropriate. You will want to go to the website to see a full description and how to set it up. I believe that this will help you find the Bible verses you need quickly and I think is a GREAT companion to For Instruction in Righteousness.
Do I remember to use these EVERY single time? No, not every time, but I do try to use them. If the kids have me beyond frustrated, I try to calm myself down and find the nearest resource. Mainly the Child Training Bible and For Instruction in Righteousness for addressing behaviors, attitudes, and actions. The Heart of Wisdom Character trait information is also a good resource for what traits you might want your child to have and Biblical back-up for it.