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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



Mrs. 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.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Courtney DeFeo describing a pretty common conundrum for parents — how to teach our kids important character values while we live those out in our own lives. You might know about that challenge…

Welcome to Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I’m sure I blew it from time to time with the boys, but I think, overall, kindness was never a real problem for me. I think patience was!

John: Is that what it was?

Jim: And of course, your lack of kindness usually comes out when you lack patience.

John: Hmm.

Jim: But, uh, raising children can bring out the worst in us, sometimes. And we need the Lord’s help to do the job well. And, I have thoroughly enjoyed my role as a dad to Trent and Troy. We’re kinda coming to the end of that critical, big phase of end of high school. One is already on his way into college, and my other one is still finishing his last couple of years in high school. I have really enjoyed it. But there have been a few difficult days along the line.

John: Mm-hm.

Jim: And some parents struggle with those conflicts in parenting. Today we want to give you help and hope for your parenting journey. Especially during those early years. Life can get so busy, where it feels like a marathon every day, and you’re just trying to survive. The old saying, you know, the days are long, but the years are short. But we also know that God has a bigger plan and purpose for our children. And it’s much more than just survival. He created them with unique skills and personalities that He’s going to use for His kingdom and use for the rest of their lives. So, our number one job is to teach our children about the Lord, how to follow Him, and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ

John: Yeah. And here at Focus, one of the biggest needs that parents tell us they feel is the spiritual training of their children. And a lot of moms and dads don’t feel qualified. They feel a need for practical tools to do that job effectively.

Jim: I think feeling not qualified is probably…


Jim: a good starting place.

John: Par for the course.

Jim: But that’s why Focus is here — to help you be the best parent you can be for your children. And we have so many resources that will assist you in sharing your faith and passing on godly principles to your family.

Courtney DeFeo is going to help us with that assignment today. She’s a blogger, podcast host, speaker and author. She’s written a wonderful book called — In This House We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love and Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life. I love that title! Uh, Courtney came a few years ago to record the following conversation. I think you were away, John. I can’t remember. Maybe on vacation or court hearing.

John: (Laughs) Probably vacation. Let’s go with vacation.

Jim: Yeah. Traffic school. So, I invited our good friend and former colleague, Kim Trobee, to join me in the studio. And we had a delightful conversation

John: It really was great. And let’s go ahead and hear it. Here’s Courtney DeFeo and Kim Trobee, with Jim Daly, on 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 Pottery Barn kid’s catalogue. (Laughter) And I don’t of a parent out there that didn’t flip through those dreamy pictures and think—

Jim: Smiling children.

Courtney: –yes, they are so cute, and my nursery is gonna be so clean and lavender (Laughter) and 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, the shoes are gonna look like that and then these … this thing happened. Real people came to live with me, and they actually needed real food. And we had to get them to bed and it just all kinda blew up (Laughter) and 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, 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 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: Yes (Laughter), absolutely and there’s some … a misconception with my book that it’s, you know, this is in the absence of discipline and I think that’s far from the truth. There are some things and boundaries and discipline that have to happen 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 and 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 that 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 gettin’ the beat down 24/7 on 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 load of life, it may even be external, you know, the job, the career’s not goin’ 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 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, 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? Are you being honest with your spouse about the demands of the job? 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?

And then just have some fun. My book has 60 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. I actually like my family. They’re pretty fun.

Jim: And we’re gonna … with your permission, we’ll post I think 10 of those–

Courtney: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Jim: –sixty.

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: Well, just to—

Courtney: Absolutely.

Jim: –whet people’s appetites.

Courtney: Absolutely.

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

Jim: (Chuckling)

Courtney: Exactly.

Kim: And they’re living their own documentary.

Courtney: Absolutely.

Kim: And they’re wondering why they’re unhappy. And you talked about the 12 virtues. Describe a little bit more of that outline and tell people what you’re talkin’ about when you’re talkin’ about 12 virtues.

Courtney: Yeah, when Ron and I were dedicating our children, we were going to a church in Atlanta and the pastor’s Andy Stanley. We’ve since now moved, but they asked us to say, in a dream scenario, what are five values 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 [easy] 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.

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, you know, the obvious question is, when you’re trying to teach your kids these virtues, these values, like patience, and then we come home and we’re totally out of (Laughter) patience with them—

Courtney: (Laughing) Right.

Jim: –there is a bit of a disconnect there.

Courtney: Right. (Laughter) Yeah and I think the most [common] conception, 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 want to dupe you into thinking it’s a one-time [thing], ‘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 No. 1 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, you know, a decade maybe or even more of us modeling these things—

Jim: Well, sure and—

Courtney: –for them.

Jim: –in that context, what’s really helpful is the honesty of the parent to say to your child and I think it works at every age really–

Courtney: Yes.

Jim: –as long as they can communicate. You know, here’s where we’re at. This is why mommy’s stressed out.

Courtney: Uh-hm.

Jim: Just say it, so that they—

Courtney: Absolutely.

Jim: –know you’re 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. And 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. In the forgiveness chapter, I talk a lot about asking for forgiveness from your children and doing it in a way that they hear it generally 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 tellin’ you, when you’re driving your kids anywhere (Laughter), they don’t have to give you eye … eyeballs. You know, they’re looking forward in the rearview mirror. You can be talking to them and they often talk more and it’s similar at bedtime. They are stalling you, ‘cause they don’t want to go to bed and they are willing to talk sometimes.

So, I had to offer a big apology to my … one my 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 one? You know, I said, “El, 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 willing to live these virtues out.

Jim: That could be the next title of your—

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: –book, How to Live in a Carpool with Giggles. (Laughter)

Courtney: Right.

Jim: I don’t think it’s possible, but …

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

Jim: Yeah, that’s true.

Courtney: Right, yeah.

Kim: Carpool’s pretty stressful.

Jim: I never knew anybody—

Courtney: Amen.

Jim: –giggling in that carpool. (Laughter)

Courtney: Hey, I’ve picked ‘em up with beach balls and leis and all kinds of craziness in carpool. (Laughter)

Kim: I’m sorry, Courtney. Carpools are pretty serious business. (Laughter)

Courtney: No fun zone.

Kim: You need to stop that.

Courtney: No fun zone.

Kim: That’s right.

Courtney: That’s right.

Jim: And we have numbers I realize. (Laughter) When I went to pick my kids up for the first time and Jean said, “Remember their numbers.” I went, “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 you’re his dad.”

Courtney: Yeah, exactly.

Kim: Oh.

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

Courtney: Yeah, yeah, you can embarrass them very quickly.

Kim: Oh, well, we’re just a few days away from Thanksgiving and I would love it if you would give us a … 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 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 greatness 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 a posture of looking around to see that you actually have so much to be grateful for.

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 they bring it back down and then share it with the family.

And then we have ‘em go back out and find five things that they’re thankful for and then they have to give those things away. And I’ll tell you, the first time we try it, they may bring back like one Lego or a chewed-up lollipop.

Jim: They know (Laughter) they’re gonna give these things away—

Courtney: Yes.

Jim: –so they’re going—

Courtney: And they’re like—

Jim: –basic—

Courtney: –trash.

Jim: –yeah.

Courtney: And I’m like, try that again with something that you actually care about that another child would actually enjoy.

Jim: Well, and that kinda plays into this attitude and especially in more affluent countries. The programs 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 when we give them the Death Star from Star Wars and it costs $300 and they get the biggest smile on their faces and we feel good about ourselves as mom and dad, right? How do we make sure that we’re not mishandling that, that we’re not overindulging the children, so they become spoiled? That’s—

Courtney: Yeah, I—

Jim: –the word.

Courtney: –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 gonna be tied to their happiness and that 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 gonna be okay. And so, I think as parents, we have to remember that’s not the ticket to happiness and we’ll talk about joy, hopefully in the program today, but there’s a difference between happiness and joy.

Jim: Courtney, let’s go ahead and hit it them, 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 I will just be honest—T.J. Maxx, love it. Makes me very happy. If I’m havin’ 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 ‘em a Gatorade. We can give ‘em a milkshake and that’s okay, but if that is our way of parenting and making them feel good, it’s not gonna 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 gonna leave you, that’s gonna last with you.

And so, in the joy chapter, we talk about a joy-filled journal. 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 help everybody understand that you’ve laid out this book in a really great way. It’s very easy to follow along. Tell us a little bit about how the chapters work and what moms can expect when they get 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 in 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 that 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, oh, and you do, too, Kim, I have girls. Here’s an idea now. What would that look like for your family? So, it’s an idea starter.

And then it has some questions you could ask at dinner and so, I try to make it as easy as possible to say, “Hey, for the month of (and I suggest a month), for the month of January, let’s kick it off, the new year with joy.” And then you make it your own in your family.

Jim: It’s a great tool, very practical and we’re talking today on Focus on the Family with our guest, Courtney DeFeo. And she’s written this book, In This House, We Will Giggle, and I love that. Courtney let’s get practical with some of the great advice you have in the book, the virtue of generosity. You talk about the Light ‘Em Up Activity. Now with boys, as Kim and I would know (Laughing), that can mean a lot of things—

Kim: Light ‘em up means a whole—

Jim: –like firecrackers.

Kim: –different thing with boys.

Jim: They’re all excited about that.

Kim: Yes.

Courtney: Listen, I’ve got to warn you not to search that hash tag and you’ll see a lot of people lighten up (Laughter) things in the world (Laughter), okay.

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

Courtney and Kim: No.

Jim: What are you talkin’ about?

Courtney: I’m talkin’ about lighting up your community with kindness. I have always been attracted to just the idea of light, that God asks us to be a light in our community. And when my girls were little, I thought, what does that look like to little girls?

And I think there is not an 18 and up for bein’ a believer, you know. That aspect, God, if You believe in Him, He’s gonna actually start working in your life 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 began 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, one … 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 two or three readers, you know, (Laughter) my mom and some friends.

And now, 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 trash can. 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 through and thanking the lady that gives me my sweet tea every day. We just went around—

Kim: Amen.

Courtney: –and say to people and do things that children can do in a really special way. And it blew up and I had people all of a sudden in Dubai and in Ukraine and London putting signs on their trash cans 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 that say, you can be used by Him to light up others with His love.

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

Courtney: Oh, yeah.

Jim: –which I loved. I was tellin’ my boys that this morning and they were like, “Yeah!”

Courtney: Oh, that’s so cool.

Jim: So, talk about that.

Courtney: Yeah, I think it’s funny, as growing up in a Christian home, there was always a part of me that was looking at the other side, like well, 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 dollar and cents and whatever your tax is and then you leave a note in there and I have the three printables on my site and it says, “We just believe it’s better to give than receive. Enjoy the free treat from our family. Merry Christmas.” And you can do this all year long, but my girls, they were kind of nervous. They’re like, “Are we gonna get in trouble.” Like, “No, this is free. It’s good.”

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

Courtney: They’re leaving … (Laughter). We’re not stealing anything. We’re leaving money, so we run through the Dollar Store. We hide ‘em and we tape em and 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 ball game. It’s like, we want their hearts; we don’t want just behavior. And so, generosity, I don’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’ve 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, awesome,” that her heart does the right thing. And so, I pulled back and said, “Ma’am, there’s a lot of money in the Dollar Store. We just hid it through there.” And her eyes (Laughter) got so big.

Jim: So, now she had a … an Easter egg hunt she—

Courtney: Yes.

Jim: –could go for it.

Courtney: So, she just ran and got all the money. And you know, I thought, would I have liked 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 gonna use the money for, but my daughter’s heart is turning to do the right thing—

Jim: Yeah.

Courtney: –and be generous.

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 thinkin’, you know, we gotta 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 the character that you’re talkin’ about, which really is God’s heart.

Courtney: Yeah and I think I fell in love in with Jesus again in a passionate way when I got out of college. And I think what the big “ah-ha” was 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 in to be who they are–

Jim: Right.

Courtney: –in 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.” 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 you know, that type of child that maybe their temperament is not quite there.

Courtney: I have one.

Jim: And (Laughter) as a parent, I do, too. (Laughter)

Kim: I am one. (Laughter)

Jim: I am one.

Courtney: Yeah, sure, sure, yeah.

Jim: But you know, you’re not … it’s just not the way you’re wired.

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: You’re not thinking about it that way. How do you, as parent, how would you motivate that child who’s like, “Whatever?”

Courtney: Yeah, I invite that one anyways 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 doin’ 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 handin’ out candy canes and doin’ all kind of, holdin’ doors for people and she … so, she had them in her hand. I said, “Well, you just let me know if you see somebody you’d like to give it to.” But El and I are gonna 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 in there to his one Christmas shopping of the year and she goes, “That guy.” And I’m like, “Oh, no, oh, no.” “That guy.” 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 it to him and explain it 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—

Jim: Right.

Courtney: –and just give it time, because he might wait till 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. (Laughter)

Courtney: Yes.

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

Kim: Be nice!

Jim: –”Come on; do this right.” (Laughter) “Open that door.”

Courtney: I have, too, but it goes back to that point, is I believe He’s real and He’s gonna be the One that changes their hearts. But keep inviting them to the game and 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.”

Kim: One thing that you say is you are the CMO in your home.


Kim: The Chief Mood Officer.

Courtney: Uh-huh.

Kim: And that’s really true. Because if we’ve got a bad attitude, they’ve got a bad attitude, right?

Courtney: Yes, I’m so thrilled to be on here to also break this misconception (Laughter), that I’m the happiest on in the family. That’s Ron. I like (Laughter) to say that I am the Queen of Moods, you know, married to Santa Claus, because he is so happy, like skippin’ to the coffee machine and I’m just not happy. Most morning I’m not happy. But I have found that I can be the Chief Mood Officer, that if I can start turning that ship towards joy, the rest will follow. And I’ve talked to a lot of moms that read my blog and my book and say, “I’m just not wired that way,” because I am pretty silly and there’s a lot of moms that are structured and I am pretty silly. You know, and they say, “How do I be fun or silly when I am not that way?” And so, I think in some levels, you can schedule it and say, “Hey, we’re turnin’ phones off and at 6 o’clock we are gonna have a game night.” Or we are gonna have time together, looking at each other. Or we’re gonna go bowling on Friday or do something joyful as a family together when it is naturally not gonna just come to you to do those things.

Jim: Well, I’ll … I’ll … one that we have, not often, but occasionally and one of our boys will get the giggles as we’re about to pray at dinner. (Laughter) And you know, it’s usually Troy. He’s our boy of joy and he’ll just start gigglin’ and the other night, I couldn’t help myself. It was so funny, just the way he was giggling. And of course, mom and Trent…they wanted to pray to the Lord. I mean…how do you…where do you go with that?

Courtney: I know; we’ve had a lot of prayers for like frogs and you know, (Laughter) forks and just silliness. And so, I think, you know, I think overreacting is, there’s always an extreme and I tend to try to land in moderation and less of this, most of our lives and say, “Hey, mom really flipped out last night. I’m sorry. Let’s try that prayer again,” you know. (Laughter) “I’m sorry.” But we do a lot of apologizing. We try to be as authentic as we can and I try in social media, ‘cause 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 doin’ 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 that they’re so loved in our family.


John: That’s Courtney DeFeo on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. And we covered a lot of the content in her book, In This House, We Will Giggle. And we’re going to have some more ideas from her about how you can get more giggles going on in your family.

Jim: Well, I certainly had a lot of fun with Courtney in the studio, and I loved her last comment there about being more authentic. And I’ll be the first to admit — I’m not a perfect parent! And I hope people have heard that. I think you’d say that, too. Right, John?

John: I would, yes.

Jim: And the sooner we admit that to ourselves, and to our children, um… the better because God works through our mistakes and imperfections certainly as much as those things we do well. So, the bottom-line lesson here is that we all need to relax a little bit and trust God for the results. Don’t be stressed being perfect. Be good enough. And now, if you enjoyed this broadcast today, please to join us next time for part #2. And can I encourage you to consider being a part of our financial team here at Focus on the Family? Tens of thousands of parents contact us every year for help in raising their children. Sometimes it’s because of a very serious crisis, or it may be about practical needs, like discipline and spiritual discipleship. But think of how many more moms and dads God can impact through your support. Today’s families – they need our help more than ever before, and together, we can meet these needs. So, please. Contact us today and be a part of the support team.

John: You can reach us by phone. Our number is 800-232-6459. 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Or donate online at And if you can make a gift of any amount today to this ministry, we’ll say “thank you” by sending you a complimentary copy of Courtney’s book.

At our website, you can also learn about our brand-new “Average Boy Podcast,” where kids and parents can laugh out loud and learn together about God! We’d recommend you check that out!

Coming up next time, more about good and bad ways to teach virtues to your children…


Courtney: Ron’s gift that is so beautiful is listening and I’m the one that’s constantly making a teachable moment, where they’re like running for the hills. Oh, here’s she comes. (Laughter) What are we gonna have to do now?

Jim: Write in a diary.

Kim: Look, she’s got a brown bag.

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

End of Teaser

Today's Guests

In This House, We Will Giggle

In This House, We Will Giggle

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