Parent Differently: Raise kids with biblical character that changes culture

Written by Dr. Kathy Koch
Published on November 10, 2023

Is character really a big deal?

For your children to develop biblical character, you need to pay attention to and address what they believe. I’ve been teaching that beliefs cause behavior for years. For example, my grandma nicknamed me Chatty Kathy when I was very young. My parents raised my brother, Dave, and me to speak respectfully and to listen. If they hadn’t done so, I could have become a good gossip. Teasing, impressing with my words, and needing the last word could have been my future. I wouldn’t have seen anything wrong in using my words in unhealthy ways. 

My parents didn’t rely just on the modeling they, our grandparents, and others provided. Positive experiences and proper expectations mattered too. My parents enrolled me in children’s theater when I was about ten. And because of their encouragement, I joined the speech team in high school. I wasn’t raised hearing, “Be quiet! Be quiet!” Instead, I was given opportunities to use my strengths in healthy ways and to develop mature character. 

For instance, if your children are impatient, you can declare, “Be patient!” all day long without having a noticeable effect on their behavior. Being told what to do isn’t enough. Patience may not be their most important concern. Figuring out what’s causing their impatience may be. 

Maybe jealousy prevents them from being patient with a sister. They believe you treated her better than you treated them. They believe all siblings should be treated the same or that they should be treated better than their siblings. Their belief and frustration resulted in impatience. 

Or maybe children were impatient with their grandparents because they were self-centered. The belief that they’re more important or their needs matter more caused them to treat their grandparent inappropriately and unkindly. Teach them why these aren’t true beliefs, replace lies with truth, and teach them why and how to be respectful and other-centered. You will discover your children are capable of patience. 

To have a lasting influence on children’s behavior and choices, including their impatience, look below the surface. Deal with their beliefs so changes in character can occur. Ask God to help you identify beliefs driving your children’s behavior. You can ask them, “Why did you do that?” but most children will stare into space and mumble, “I don’t know.” You can help them figure it out. Long-lasting changes depend on this.

What beliefs matter most? 

The most important beliefs are those that will allow your children to develop biblical character. For example, they must believe in the triune God, and in what God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have done for them, can do for them, and will do for them. They need to believe that committing to live for Him and putting Him and His ways first is wise. 

Your children need to know God is on their side, has the power to protect them, and has equipped them to do great work. They need to believe they can do much for God and that being marked as a follower of Christ is the very best mark of all. Children also need to believe they can and should do the right things right. They need to believe that being good is important and worthwhile, even if it costs them something. 

The longest-lasting changes in your children’s character will happen when they believe what best supports the choices and decisions they need to make. 

The impact of cultivating character 

How we’re raised influences more than education and career. For example, solid friendships were only possible for me with the boundaries and guidance my parents and others provided. Picture what might have happened if I had needed to talk all the time and used words in unhealthy ways. Still today, I look for wise ways to use my character and abilities. I’m not always successful, so I’m grateful for family, friends, and colleagues who have wisdom, truth, grace, and mercy. They help me and I want that because character is destiny! 

With a positive character, children are more likely to become who God created them to be. He intentionally, strategically, and personally chose children’s gifts, talents, interests, challenges, families, and more. Immature character robs children of their present and future. That’s a big deal! They may drop out of school, experiment with drugs and alcohol, question their identity, or become abusive, apathetic, suicidal—the list goes on. 

Furthermore, mature character results in fulfillment, joy, peace, gratitude, productivity, contentment, and freedom. It means children are less likely to lie to impress others, hide from hard things, or behave one way for one group of people and a different way with others. They’re more likely to be blessed, successful, confident, and grow in wisdom and healthy relationships. And, of course, if they’re Christ followers, it will be easier for them to display the character of Christ. They hold His reputation in their hands. (So do we!)

Healthy character means children can already begin fulfilling God’s purposes for them—to leave the world a better place. They’ll be able to engage with others to solve problems. They’ll want to be influential! They’ll want to influence culture positively! Character for the sake of self isn’t compelling. Character for others is. The healthiest and most mature children are not just confident in themselves or you. They’ll also develop confidence in God as you teach them who He is and how He is involved in their lives. Teach them they can trust His wisdom, love, leading, sovereignty, grace, and everything else. They can trust that God created them with good gifts to use and so much more. He is the source of all we are. Make sure you teach and model this. 

Adapted from Parent Differently by Kathy Koch (© 2023). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.

Parent Differently by Kathy Koch, PhD

Have you tried bribing, threatening, and watching your children’s behavior? It’s exhausting! Too many children and adults know what to do but don’t do it. To develop both their head and heart, you’ll need to Parent Differently. Dr. Kathy Koch with Celebrate Kids will show you how to teach, motivate, and inspire through your example, character, words, instruction, feedback, and attitudes so your children will have both the skill and will to do what’s right even when you are not watching. Order today!

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Dr. Kathy Koch

Dr. Kathy Koch (“cook”) is the Founder of Celebrate Kids. She has influenced thousands of parents, teachers, and children in over 25 countries through keynote messages, seminars, chapels, and other events. She regularly speaks for Care Net, Summit Ministries, the Colson Center, and Teach Them Diligently. Kirk Cameron chose her as an expert in two recent documentaries and she is also a popular guest on Focus on the Family radio and other radio talk shows and podcasts. Her podcasts Celebrate Kids with Dr. Kathy, Dr. Kathy Says, and Facing the Dark are well received. She is the author of seven books published by Moody Publishers. Dr. Kathy earned a PhD in reading and educational psychology from Purdue University and served as an associate professor, school board member, teacher, and coach all before founding her ministry. She has loved Jesus for years and her faith and desire to serve and glorify God is the foundation of her ministry.

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