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Fun Ways to Instill Virtues in Your Children (Part 1 of 2)

Fun Ways to Instill Virtues in Your Children (Part 1 of 2)

Blogger and speaker Courtney DeFeo offers practical suggestions and fun ideas on how parents can make biblically-based values, love and laughter a part of everyday life in the home. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: November 23, 2015

Preview:

Courtney DeFeo: The number one thing is that we try to model these things for our kids, because kind mothers and kind fathers raise kind kids. But it’s not an overnight thing.

John Fuller: Mm. That’s Courtney DeFeo referring to a common conundrum for parents, how to teach character values to our kids and model those same values in our own lives. And maybe that’s been a challenge for you. If so, we have some help on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

End of Preview

Jim Daly: Uh, John, I don’t think kindness was a problem for me. Well, most of the time, as a dad. But patience certainly was.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Uh, because raising children can bring out the worst in us, and we all need the Lord’s help to do that job well. Uh, I’m sure many moms and dads listening right now wanna establish a good and healthy foundation for their children, helping them to grow up and become responsible adults and integrate their faith into every part of their lives. That’s what Christian parents desire.

John: Yeah, and that’s what they tell us when they call. It’s one of the main reasons, uh, parents contact us. They want help, especially with the spiritual training of their children. A lot of mom and dads, though, don’t feel qualified to do that effectively. They, they want and need some tools.

Jim: And that’s why Focus is here, to equip and empower you to share your faith with your children. We have so (laughs) many resources that can help you do that. Uh, one of those resources is a conversation that I recorded a while back with Courtney DeFeo, and she’s an author, speaker, blogger and podcast host. And she wrote a wonderful book that we’d like to tell you more about today. The title is, In This House, We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love, and Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life. What a great resource.

John: Yeah, and we have copies of that book here at the ministry. Our website is focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or call for details. 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. And, Jim, I was out of the office as you spoke with Courtney, and so, uh, we invite-

Jim: Oh, you’re missing days, huh, John?

John: (laughs) Every now and then.

Jim: (laughs)

John: So our colleague, Kim Trobee, filled in. And here’s how the conversation began with Courtney DeFeo on today’s Focus on the Family.

Jim: You talked about what you thought parenting was gonna be like. And then the little ones arrived, and it didn’t quite fit with your expectations. Most parents experience that. Talk about that disconnect, what you thought was gonna happen and what really happened.

Courtney: Absolutely. The best illustration I can give you is the Potter Barn Kids catalog. And I don’t know…

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: … of a parent out there that didn’t flip through those dreamy pictures and think-

Jim: Smiling children.

Courtney: Yes! They are so cute.

Jim: Yes.

Courtney: And my nursery is gonna be so clean, and lavender, and, um…

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: … the diapers are gonna be stacked up just like that. And my kids are gonna have these outfits on, and we are gonna sit and do a puzzle quietly.

Jim: And they never get dirty.

Courtney: Right, right. And their shoes are gonna look like that. And then these, this thing happened. Um, real people came to live with me, and they actually needed real food. Um, and we had to get them to bed, and it just all kinda blew up.

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: And, um, you saw my real sinful self, and anger came out, and frustration with my husband, and the kids needed things. And they cried. And so my reality became really scary. And so I think for most parents, that reality is a harsh thing to face. And so we can either get bogged down by that or get a new game plan to say…

Kim: Mm-hmm.

Courtney: … how do we keep going in the midst of chaos and either get depressed or just have a new game plan to go with it and enjoy it, or give up?

Jim: Well, and you’ve written this book, In This House, We Will Giggle, and I think most parents, most level-headed parents, want their home to be full of joy and fun. But there are some things they gotta do, and they gotta have responsibility. Talk about that balance, that tension. Because, uh, that even shows up in the parents themselves. You know, one is, perhaps, more fun and wants to forget about the chores while the other one is all about the chores.

Courtney: Yeah. (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: Absolutely. And s- there’s some, a misconception with my book that it’s, you know, th- this is in the absence of discipline, and I think that’s far from the truth. The- there are some things, some boundaries and discipline, that have to happen, Um, in the basis of this book that we’ve gotta have boundaries and a safe place for our kids. But, as we go about life, in Deuteronomy 6:7 it says, “Impress upon your children as you go,” you know, as we take them to carpool, we can include really important things like virtues. And that’s why the book has 12 virtues that are Biblically-based. And then we can do it in a fun way so there’s less lectures and more laughter, and kids can actually enjoy our homes and not feel like they’re just getting the beat down 24/7 on the-

Kim: (laughs)

Courtney: … who they need to become, these good Christian kids.

Jim: What, what about the parent though that they started that direction, but, you know, all the, the load of life. It may even be external, you know? The job, the career is not going the way they wanted. Maybe their marriage is not in a good place. And some of that frustration comes out in the home to where it’s, uh, in not a healthy or joyful environment. Talk to that person today about the realization, this is where I’m at. How do they become more joyful for their kids’ sake?

Courtney: Yeah. I think, at- There was a time, when I met with my mentor, when I was just beat down and I was tired. I wasn’t enjoying the journey and it was hard to admit that this is not what I thought it was gonna be and I feel really frustrated about that. And so she had to get honest with me about, you know, is it mid-week? Do you need a break? Do you need a babysitter? D- Are you being honest with your spouse about the demands of the job? Um, and so I think communication is key with your spouse. Or, if you’re a single mom, communication is key with the people around you. Do you have enough support? Um, so that communication is key, and then just saying, “Do I need a break? Do I need a two-hour break just to go to Target by myself and get a little (laughs) sanity here and there?” And so that would be my advice, is that you get a mentor, a Godly mentor in your life to have those open communication. And then you be really honest with your spouse. Um, and then just have some fun. My book has 60, um, ideas on how to giggle, and some of those just silly things get a little bit of joy sprinkled back into your life. And you remember that, “Hey, I actually like these people and I actually like my family. They’re pretty fun.” (laughs)

Jim: And w- and we’re gone-

Kim: Yeah.

Jim: With your permission, we’ll post, I think 10 of those 60.

Courtney: Oh yeah, Absolutely, yeah. Absolutely.

Jim: (laughs) W- Just to whet people’s appetite.

Courtney: Absolutely.

Kim Trobee: Well, you know what, Courtney? I think that a lot of moms spend their time looking at other people’s highlight reels.

Courtney: Exactly.

Jim: (laughs)

Kim: And, and they’re living their own documentary.

Courtney: Absolutely.

Kim: And they’re wondering why they’re unhappy.

Courtney: Mm-hmm.

Kim: And you talked about the 12 virtues.

Courtney: Mm-hmm.

Kim: Describe a little bit more of that outline, and tell people what you’re talking about when you’re talking about 12 virtues.

Courtney: Yeah. When Ron and I were dedicating our children, we were going to a church in Atlanta. Um, the pastor was Andy Stanley. We’ve since now moved, but they asked us to say, “In a dream scenario, what are five values, um, that you would hope that your kids walk out of the home and they have these values just at the core of who they are?” And so, when we made that list, it’s pretty to write those down and say, “I want them to be generous kids. I want them to be kind kids.” And, but most of these were all Biblically-based virtues. But then it’s tough to say, “Okay, now how?” You know? They don’t just wake up and come out patient kids.

Kim: (laughs)

Courtney: So that really struck me as, how, in the midst of feeding my kids, getting ’em to school, putting them to bed, how do these virtues come to life? How do you bring faith to life in a way that’s not a lecture? And so that really became the, just passion behind what I was writing about and what I was doing in my own home. And so we started trying to live that out with my young kids, and that became the book.

Jim: Well, and I, eh, you know, the obvious question is when you’re trying to teach your kids these virtues…

Courtney: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … these values, like patience, and then we come home and we’re totally out of patience with them…

Kim: (laughs) Right.

Jim: There is a bit of a (laughs) disconnect here.

Kim: Right. Yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: And I think the misconception too is that it’s a one-time thing. And that I’m gonna actually solve it with this book. I’m not. So buy it, and enjoy the ideas, but I don’t wanna dupe you into thinking that it’s a one-time… ‘Cause I’m still impatient. I just moved to a new city and I want it all to button up quickly now, but I’m actually impatient. I’m going, God, I’m ready for my house to sell. I’m ready. And so my kids are watching. So I think you’re right. The number one thing is that we try to model these things for our kids, because kind mothers and kind fathers raise kind kids. But it’s not an overnight thing. It’s a d- you know, a decade, maybe, or even more of us modeling these things.

Jim: Well, sure.

Courtney: For them.

Jim: Uh, and, and in that context, what’s really helpful is the honesty as a parent to say to your child- Ah, I mean, I think it works at every age, really.

Courtney: Yes.

Jim: As long as they can communicate. Um, you know, “Here’s where we’re at. This is why Mommy’s stressed out.”

Courtney: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Just say it so that they know you’re…

Courtney: Absolutely.

Jim: … not perfect and they know that you’re asking, perhaps, even for forgiveness from them.

Courtney: Yes.

Jim: That Mommy hasn’t been patient, and, you know, at-

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: Those are good things to remember. And I think that really does model for your children how to live a life that isn’t perfect, that has some failure, but you’re striving to do better each and every day.

Courtney: Absolutely. And the forgiveness chapter, I talk a lot about asking for forgiveness, um, from your children and doing it in a way that they hear it genuinely from you. Not just saying, “I’m sorry,” to get the words out. But genuinely asking their forgiveness. And I’ll never forget being in carpool, and carpool guys, I’m telling you. When you’re driving your kids anywhere…

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: … they don’t have to give you id- eyeballs. (laughs) You know? They’re looking forward, but in the rear-view mirror, you can be talking to them and they often talk more. And similar at bedtime. They are stalling you ’cause they don’t wanna go to bed, and they are willing to talk sometimes. So I had to offer a big apology to my, one of mine for the way I’d acted the night before. And I said, “You know what, guys? Someone in this car deserves a big apology.” And their eyeballs got huge. Like, who’s gonna be the lucky…

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: … one? You know?

Kim: (laughs)

Courtney: I said, “Ella, it was you. I was so unkind to you last night about your tummy hurting.” Um, and so it takes a great sense of humility, it’s embarrassing. But I think our kids need to see that over, and over, and over again, that we’re not perfect and we’re mil- uh, willing to live these virtues out for them.

Jim: That could be…

Kim: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jim: … the next title of your book, How to Live in the Carpool With Giggles.

Courtney: (laughs)

Kim: (laughs)

Courtney: That’s right.

Jim: I don’t think it’s possible. But-

Kim: Well, that’s where you need most of the giggles.

Jim: Yeah, (laughs) that is true.

Courtney: That’s right.

Kim: Can I just say?

Courtney: Yeah. Oh…

Kim: Carpool’s pretty stressful.

Jim: (laughs)

Kim: Right?

Jim: I’ve never seen anybody giggling…

Kim: (laughs) No.

Jim: … in the carpool.

Kim: No.

Courtney: Hey, I’ve picked ’em up with, um, beach balls, and Luaus and all kinds of craziness at carpool. So we’ve be-

Jim: (laughs)

Kim: I’m sorry, Courtney.

Courtney: (laughs)

Kim: Carpools are pretty serious business. Can you please stop…

Courtney: No phone zone.

Kim: … that? That’s right.

Courtney: No phone zone.

Jim: And we have numbers, I realized.

Courtney: (laughs)

Jim: When I went to pick my kids up…

Courtney: Oh yes.

Jim: … for the first time and…

Courtney: (laughs)

Kim: (laughs)

Jim: … Jean said, “Remember their numbers.” Like, what numbers? I don’t know. They each have numbers. I didn’t know that. I had to say, Trent and Troy. And they’re going, “No, what’s his number?” ‘Cause that proves your his dad.

Kim: Exactly.

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: I don’t know his number. I had to get on the phone. “Jean, what’s the number for the kids?”

Courtney: (Laughs) yeah, yeah, you can embarrass them very quickly.

Kim: And I would love it if you would give us, uh, an example of something that a mom could do to encourage gratitude in her kids.

Courtney: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that my mom has taught us is, and this goes back to Deuteronomy 6:7. Just, as you go about life, and my mom loves nature. And her way of showing God’s greatest is in nature. And she takes my girls on walks and she says, “Thank you, God, for” and she’ll just say “The trees.” “Thank you, God, for”, and they’ll just look around. And I think just getting them in the posture of looking around to see that you actually have so much to be grateful for. And it gets our eyes up off of ourselves and onto other people. And it’s so simple for the little ones. But they start going, “Oh, thank you, God, for the moths and, you know, the flowers that make our, you know, sky so pretty.” You know, they just look around. They start naming things. And we can do that in the car and everywhere. And then another easy one that’s in the book is the give thanks bag. We ask our kids to run around and like a preschool share bag. And they have to run through the house and find five things that they’re thankful for. It could be a picture of somebody, it could be a toy, it could be a piece of food. And then bring it back down and then share it with the family. And then we have them go back out and find five things they’re thankful for and then they have to give those things away. And I’ll tell you the first time you try it, they may bring back, like, one Lego or a chewed up lollipop.

Jim: So they know they’re going to give these things away.

Courtney: Yes.

Kim: (Laughs)

Jim: So they’re going…

Courtney: And they’re like, trash.

Jim: …basic. Yeah.

Courtney: I’m like, “Try that again with something that you actually care about, that another child would actually enjoy.” You know.

Jim: What a great lesson, though. You can play off of that in terms of the spirit of the heart.

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: And so the fact that you brought back a half-eaten Tootsie Roll to give away…

Courtney: (Laughs)

Jim: …is evidence that maybe your heart’s not in a great place.

Courtney: Exactly.

Jim: That’s, that’s terrific. I like that.

Courtney: Yeah, yeah. And they love to share.

Jim: How does that work at 13 and 15 years old?

Courtney: Yeah. I think it’s a similar challenge. It’s the same base idea that, um, and for both games. I think it’s, you know, “Hey, let’s just look around.” Because we can get so focused on the things that are not happening and, and same with teenagers. They can get really bogged down with the things- a couple things that are going really badly in high school. So lets’ get them either to write ’em down or journal about the things that are going really well in the world.

Jim: Well, that kind of plays into this attitude, and especially in more affluent countries, the program airs around the world. But in countries where, you know, we have disposable income, we can lavish upon our kids a lot of gifts.

Courtney: Right.

Jim: And a lot of us do, because we like that affirmation as parents.

Courtney: Mm-hmm.

Jim: How do we make sure that we’re not mishandling that? That we’re not overindulging the children so they become spoiled? That’s the word.

Courtney: Yeah. I think it’s a big- And it’s a challenge for me because I get, I get caught in that. Because I do see them sad and I think I know that those toys and those things do lift their spirits. But I do get afraid that that is going to be tied to their happiness and then they will equate that. That if I have a lot of things, I am good. And that is the last thing I want them believing, that they are okay if they have a lot of stuff. So I think it’s a good caution for all of us just to remember that actually if we’re loved and we remember that we’re beloved by our parents and we’re, you know, loved by our Savior, that they’re going to be okay. And so I think as parents we have to remember that’s not the ticket to their happiness. And, uh, we’ll talk about joy, um, hopefully in the program today. But, there’s a difference between happiness and joy.

Jim: Courtney, let’s go ahead and hit it, then.

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, that difference between happiness and joy. Some people may not see a distinction. What is the distinction?

Courtney: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of fleeting, very temporary things that make me happy. And, um, I will just be honest. TJ Maxx, love it. Makes me very happy. If I’m having a down day, I can just go in there, get a shirt, you know. It makes me temporarily feel good. I’ve got a new shirt. And the same things can happen for our kids. They’ve had a bad day, we can go get them a Gatorade, we can get them a milkshake. And that’s okay. But if that is our way of parenting and making them feel good, it’s not going to last for them. And so I’ve had these conversations with my girls about lasting joy. And that if God can fill your heart and you feel loved by your parents and you feel a secure home and you feel loved by a Savior that’s never going to leave you, that’s going to last with you. And so, in the Joy chapter, we talk about a joy filled journal. And you know how scientists go out and they look and study things. They’ll start looking at the world around them and studying that. And so for my girls, we started studying joyful people. And what- do you see happy people out in the world that are just happy? Or do you see true joyful people? And I think there’s a difference. And we know different people in our culture and they started talking about their teachers and their grandparents and people that are just joyful and people that are happy.

Kim: You know, you mentioned the chapters, and I think it would be good for us to, um, help everybody understand that you’ve laid out this book in a really great way. It’s very easy to follow along.

Courtney: Mm-hmm

Kim: Tell us a little bit about how the chapters work and what mom’s can expect when they good this book?

Courtney: Yeah. I’m a mom, just like many of you out there. And I think there’s- people are like, “How do you even read a book, much less write a book?” And I’m with you, you know. It’s tough to fit this stuff in. And so I didn’t want another book that’s on a great topic and that you can’t figure out how to actually apply it. So each chapter, half of it is about the importance of that virtue and the other half I wanted to be as practical as possible. So each- So let’s take Joy, for example. When you get into the part about applying it and teaching it to your children, there’s a definition that makes it really easy for your children. So, Joy is choosing to praise God and all things. So that’s putting a virtue a big term in a way that kids can understand it. So regardless of your circumstances, “Hey, Larson, Ella, Joy is choosing to praise God in all things.” And then there’s a verse, so you can tie it back Biblically to a verse. So it’s “A happy heart makes the face cheerful. But heartache crushes the spirit.” And then there’s an activity that you don’t have to do, because I never want anyone to think this book is a formula. It’s like, “Here’s an idea starter for you.” And whether you have boys, ’cause I know you have some boys, Jim.

Jim: (Laughs)

Courtney: And you do too, Kim.

Kim: (Laughs)

Courtney: I have girls. “Here’s an idea. Now what would that look like for your family?”

John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and our guest today is Courtney DeFeo describing the wonderful content in her book, In this House, We will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love, and Laughter a Daily Part of your Family Life. We’d recommend you get a copy of that and an audio download of the entire conversation with Courtney when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And now more from the conversation Jim Daly had with Courtney DeFeo on Focus on the Family.

Jim: Courtney, let’s get practical with some of the great advice you have in the book. Um, the virtue of generosity. You talk about the Light ’em up activity. Now with boys, as Kim and I would know (Laughs), that can be a lot of things like…

Kim: Light ’em up means a whole different thing with boys. Yes.

Jim: …firecrackers. They’re all excited about that.

Courtney: Listen. I’m just going to warn you not to search that hashtag and you’ll see a lot of people lighten up.

Jim: (Laughs)

Kim: (Laughs)

Courtney: To things in the world. Okay.

Jim: So, we’re not talking about that.

Courtney: No.

Kim: No.

Jim: What are you talking about?

Courtney: I’m talking about lighting up your community with kindness. I have always been attracted to just the idea of light, that God asked us to be a light in our community. And when my girls were little, I thought, “What does that look like for little girls?” And I think there is not an 18 and up for being a believer. You know, God asked, like, God, if you believe in Him, He’s going to actually start working in your lives as little as 4, 5, 6. And we have to parent that we actually believe that. Let’s parent that we believe God is real and He can work in our kids as little as, you know, when they begin believing in Him. And so that excited me. And as I went to ministries in Atlanta, I started figuring out that they had rules. “No, they’re too little.” You know. “They have to be 14 or 15 legally to come serve at this ministry.” And I was frustrated. And so out of that, um, several years ago before the book even started, I started a campaign on my blog called Light ‘Em Up and said, “I am doing something. I- And you can join me.” And at that time, I had 2 or 3 readers, you know, my mom and some friends.

Jim: (Laughs)

Courtney: And, um, I said “Join me other moms. Let’s go do something in our community as we go about life. And let’s see what difference we can make in the community.” And I cannot tell you what happened. I thought, “Let’s put signs on our trashcan. Let’s thank people who are not thanked.” And so we started saying “Thank you for picking up our trash.” The girls made a poster. They left candy. We started going through the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru and thanking the lady that gives me my sweet tea every day. Um.

Kim: Amen. (laughs)

Courtney: We just went around and thanked people and did things that children can do in a really special way, and it blew up. And I had people all the sudden in Dubai and in Ukraine and London putting signs on their trashcans and God just moved through this movement called Light ‘Em Up and now there’s people all over the world doing simple acts of kindness with their children and showing God’s love. And you know they don’t even have to say His name. They’re just using their kids to say, “You can be used by Him to light up others with His love.”

Jim: In, in fact in the book you talked about the Dollar Tree story.

Courtney: Oh yes.

Jim: Which I loved.

Courtney: Yes.

Jim: I was telling my boys that this morning. And they were like, “Yeah.”

Courtney: Oh, that’s so cool.

Jim: So, talk about that.

Kim: (Laughs)

Courtney: You know, I think, it’s funny. As a- Growing up in a Christian home, there was always a part of me that was looking at the other side like, “They’re having more fun.” They’re almost on the cusp of doing something illegal. And so I always invite parents into, this is where you kinda get on the cusp of illegal nature. Like, sneak in the Dollar Store. Let your kids sneak in with dollars and they hide them all through the Dollar Store and you put a $1.06 or whatever your tax is. And then you leave a note in there, and I have the free printables on my site. And it says, “We just believe it’s better to give than receive. Enjoy this free treat from our family. Merry Christmas.” And you can do this all year long. But my girls, they’re kind of nervous. They’re like, “Are we going to get in trouble?” I’m like, “No. This is free. It’s good.”

Jim: You’re leaving money, not taking it.

Kim: (Laughs)

Courtney: Yeah. We’re not stealing anything.

Jim: (Laughs)

Courtney: We’re leaving money. So we run through the Dollar Store, we hide ’em and we tape ’em. And, uh, the coolest thing was, once we left there, they were so excited and they always want to do more, which is fun. Their hearts start changing. And it’s less lectures, more laughter. And they’re experiencing who we know and not doing what we know. ‘Cause I think that’s our culture is that we want to start teaching them all these Biblical practices and they miss the whole ballgame. It’s like, we want their hearts. We don’t want this behavior. And so generosity, and won’t have to give them another lecture on generosity, ’cause my kids have caught the bug. It’s contagious. So to finish that story up, we’re leaving the Dollar Store. In Orlando there’s a huge population of homeless folks because of the weather.

Jim: Right.

Courtney: And my girls are getting used to that. And so we were leaving the parking lot and the lady knocked on our window to see if she could clean our window for money. And normally I would have said, “Absolutely.” But I had literally not a dime left ’cause we had packed every bag full of money. So I waved at her and said, “I’m so sorry, ma’am.” And we kept driving. And my oldest, Ella, said, “Mom, go back. Tell her where the money is.” And I thought, “Oh, how awesome. That her heart does the right thing.” And so I pulled back and I said, “Ma’am, there’s a lot of money in the Dollar Store. We just hid it through there.” And her eyes…

Jim: (Laughs)

Kim: (Laughs)

Courtney: Were so big.

Jim: So now she had an Easter egg hunt she could go for.

Courtney: Yes. So she just ran and got all the money. And, um, you know, I thought, would I have liked for a bunch of people to find our little surprises? But what was more important is that my daughter saw the need of a woman who needed some money for lunch. And, you know, I don’t even know what she was going to use the money for, but my daughter’s heart is turning to do the right thing and be generous.

Jim: Yeah.

Kim: So good.

Jim: That’s so much fun. And you can take that in all kinds of directions.

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: But it is, it’s kind of an attitude, isn’t it, Courtney?

Courtney: Yeah. Absolutely.

Jim: I mean, we get kind of in the rut and we’re thinking, you know, we got to go to work, we gotta do this. We don’t think of how to have fun in life. How to look beyond the boundaries of normal and do some things that really lift up this character that you’re talking about. Which really is God’s heart.

Courtney: Yeah. And I think- I fell in love with Jesus again, um, in a passionate way when I got out of college. And I think what the big ah-ha for me was like, it is a good thing. Like, it feels awesome to love, to give, to serve. And I don’t have to do it anymore. Like, I enjoy opening my Bible. I enjoy going to do these things. And I want that experience so badly for my children that it gets them to be who they are.

Jim: Right.

Courtney: And so much of a way that it’s not new information for them. That they say, “Oh mom, remember when we did that together? I want to do that again.” And I have kids reading the book and they’re doing that. They experience Light ‘Em Up and then they want to do it for their birthday. So now I have kids doing 10 acts of kindness and Light ‘Em Up for their birthday because it’s becoming who they are.

Jim: Right. But talk about, um, you know, that type of child that maybe their temperament is not quite there.

Courtney: I have one.

Jim: (Laughs)

Kim: (Laughs)

Jim: I do too. (Laughs)

Kim: I am one.

Courtney: Yes, yes, yeah.

Jim: I am one. But you know, you’re not, it’s just not the way you’re wired or you’re not thinking about it that way. How do you, as a parent, how would you motivate that child who’s like, whatever?

Courtney: Yeah. I invite that one anyways. Um, and my, one of these, my other one, Larson, is precious and she’s gotten involved in so many things. But one particular instance I can remember, we were doing Light ‘Em Up at the mall and I invited her anyways. And she’s small and she said, “I don’t want to do this.” And, I’m like, “Okay, well just come with us.” And so we were handing out candy canes and doing all kinds of- holding doors for people. And she- so she had one in her hand and I said, “Well you just let know if you see somebody you’d like to give it to. But Ella and I are going to do this.” And so I don’t, you don’t want to start lecturing and punish them. They’re not doing anything wrong. You know. And so I said, “You just hold it.” And so then she saw this old man and he had bags. And you know he probably came there to do his one Christmas shopping of the year. And she said, “That guy.” And I’m like, “Oh no. Oh no.” “That guy.” And I’m like, “Okay, great.” So I had to go up to this man and say, “Hi. My daughter has a present for you.” And her attitude was still so poor, but she kinda shoved it his way. And I tried to coat it over and show- you know, explain to him. But then 20 minutes later she was the one finally holding the door. But the thing is, we can’t get mad at these kids and…

Jim: Right.

Courtney: And just give it time. Because he might wait til college. Or he might be like me and after college be the one, but we can’t force faith down their throats.

Jim: Okay. Now I feel guilty.

Kim: Yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: (laughs)

Jim: How many times have I said to my boys…

Kim: “Be nice.”

Jim: “Come on. Do this right. Open that door.”

Courtney: I have too. I have too. But it goes back to that point that’s like believe He’s real and He’s going to be the one that changes their hearts. But keep inviting him to the games. Say, “Hey, mom and I are going to do this. Do you want to come? We’d love to have you. And we believe in you. We’ve seen you be so generous and we think you’d be great at this. Come with us.”

Jim: Well, one that we have, not often, but occasionally one of our boys will get the giggles as we’re about to pray at dinner.

Courtney: (Laughs)

Kim: (Laughs)

Jim: And, you know, it’s usually Troy. He’s our boy of joy and he’ll just start giggling. And I- the other night I couldn’t help myself. It was so funny.

Courtney: (Laughs)

Jim: Just the way he was giggling. And I started to giggle. And (Laughs) Jean gave me the eye.

Courtney: (Laughs)

Kim: (Laughs)

Jim: ‘Cause that’s not the time to giggle.

Courtney: Right. Yeah.

Jim: I get that. But what were we gonna do?

Courtney: I love it.

Jim: I couldn’t control it.

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: And he couldn’t control it. And that made us laugh even more. And of course mom and Trent, they’re wanting to pray to the Lord. I mean, how do you, where do you go with that?

Courtney: I know. We, we’ve had a lot of prayers for, like, frogs and you know, forks and just silliness. And so I think, you know, I think overreacting is, there’s always an extreme. And I, I tend to try to land in moderation so we can over extreme and just freak out every time that they laugh or get silly when we’re trying to get them to do something. Um, you know, or we can just go so, you know, we don’t care and laugh at everything. And so I just try to find moderation in most of, most of our life and say, “Hey, mom really flipped out last night. I’m sorry. Let’s try that prayer again, you know. Sorry.”

Kim: Yeah.

Jim: (Laughs)

Courtney: And so we do a lot of apologizing. We try to be as authentic as we can and I try on social media, because you talked about the highlight reel. I try to show anyone that’s reading my stuff that we are real. My house is a mess. I snap at my kids. You know, we’re doing the best we can just like everybody else is. But our drive is that they get invited to the game, they understand Jesus is real, and they are so loved in our family.

Jim: Boy, I really love Courtney’s last comment there about being as authentic as we can be because none of us are perfect parents. I think uh, you’d agree with that, John.

John: I would.

Jim: And the sooner we admit that to ourselves, the better our children our going to do because we’re being real. God works through our mistakes and imperfections as much as those things we model well. So the bottom line here is that we all need to relax a little bit and trust God for the result. Don’t stress yourself out by trying to be the perfect parent. Be good enough and let God take care of the rest.

John: And along the way, you might want to contact Focus on the Family about resources like Courtney’s book, In This House, We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love, and Laughter a Daily Part of your Family Life. We also have a free online parenting survey. It’s called Seven Traits of Effective Parenting. Uh, invest 5 or 10 minutes and, uh, take that survey. You’ll have a good overview of what’s working well in your family and maybe an area or two for improvement. Learn about these resources when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: And as a reminder we can send Courtney’s book to you when you make a monthly pledge of any amount. And the reason we do that is because we’re trying to recruit a monthly sustain your team of friends like you who are committed to strengthening marriages, equipping parents, and helping families to grow in their faith. And we need that, uh, persistent financial support every month if possible. You literally provide the fuel that we need to produce programs like this one, develop resources, provide counseling, uh, our website and so much more. When we work together, families around the world are helped in amazing ways. Literally, hundreds of thousands every year. So please consider a monthly pledge today. Ten dollars a month makes a huge difference for needy families.

John: And if a pledge is more than you can do right now, a one-time gift will also be really helpful and appreciated. Again, our number, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Coming up next time, we’ll continue on the conversation with Courtney and hear how she and her husband parent their children very differently.

Courtney: Ron’s gift that is so beautiful is listening. And I’m the one that’s constantly making a teachable moment where there’s like running for the hills. “Oh, here she comes. What are going to have to do now?” It’s like…

Jim: Write in the diary.

Kim: (laughs)

Courtney: Yeah, we’re just trying to get ice cream and now there’s some sort of lesson coming out of the ice cream scoops, here.

Today's Guests

In This House, We Will Giggle

In This House, We Will Giggle

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