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Focus on the Family Broadcast

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Making Virtues a Daily Part of Your Family Life (Part 2 of 2)

Making Virtues a Daily Part of Your Family Life (Part 2 of 2)

In a discussion based on her book In This House, We Will Giggle, Courtney DeFeo offers practical suggestions for fun and effective ways parents can instill important values in their children, such as forgiveness, perseverance, respect, humility, and more. (Part 2 of 2)
Original Air Date: July 14, 2016


Courtney DeFeo: So it’s not gold star, check it off the list, you’re a great Christian because you know all these. It’s like, how do we let God’s word and truth move through us in parenting? So that they’re learning the right things and then learning, you know, what to do and what’s wise and the right and wrong, but we’re not using it as a filter for, you look like and walk like a good kid. And now do that and don’t mess, you know, don’t smile. No, don’t jump. No, don’t go in and [inaudible]. Do you know what I mean?

End of Preview

John Fuller: Well, that’s Courtney DeFeo, describing how you can be more effective in teaching godly character to your children. And she was our guest last time on Focus on the Family. We’re looking forward to part two of that conversation today. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, last time Courtney reviewed some important virtues that children need to know, things like love, forgiveness and perseverance. And what I loved was her ability to communicate these big concepts in fun and simple ways, even for kids as young as five, six or seven years old. And frankly, I think these are great concepts for the whole family to learn, uh, mom and dad included. And that highlights one of our primary goals here at Focus on the Family, to equip you to be the best parent you can be, and help you pass on your faith and values to the next generation. I’m looking forward to hearing more insights from Courtney’s wonderful book In This House, We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love & Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life.

John: We’d be happy to tell you more about Courtney and her book when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY or stop by And as we mentioned last time, this conversation was recorded a few years ago. Let’s go ahead and continue now with part two of our conversation with Courtney DeFeo on today’s episode of Focus on the Family.

Jim: Courtney, welcome back to Focus.

Courtney: Thank you. So happy to be here.

Jim: Now, we loved it last time. You really, uh, shed some great light on how to teach your kids virtues. You’re a fun-loving person, I can tell. Is-

John: You can kinda tell by the hat-

Jim: (laughs) Yeah.

John: … or whatever she’s wearing, a headband.

Jim: She’s wearing this very strange hat.

Courtney: Yeah. I love gear. I’ve got a flower on right now. Why not?

Jim: Now, your husband Ron-

Courtney: Mm-hmm-

Jim: … is he, uh, compatible to your outgoing nature? (laughs)

Courtney: He is. You will be shocked to know that he’s actually the more joyful one.

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: You know, he is waking up like Santa Claus, and I’m moving people to the coffeemaker in a bad mood.

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: So, you know, I tell people, I’m the chief mood officer. And it’s funny, if I will just get out of my bad mood, then everybody else starts getting a more- a little more joyful. But he’s really so happy, he’s a great guy.

Jim: Well, that is good. Now, in the book, In This House, We Will Giggle, you talk about 12 virtues. You’ve actually created a deck of- of virtue cards-

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: … that allow you to go through this. We talk about the need to, uh, concentrate. You only do 12 for the year. So once a month, you just concentrate on one virtue, because there’s probably hundreds of virtues that we can elaborate on, right?

Courtney: Oh, yeah. It can be overwhelming. You know, my sister, we talked about this last time I was on the show, she told me one time, I can’t read your blog sometimes, because I just- it makes- it reminds me of all the things that I’m not doing. And I thought, man, how many of us feel that way, that once we, you know, open up a program or even read our Bible, do we get overwhelmed at all the things where we’re lacking as a parent?

Jim: It’s hard to live a perfect life.

Courtney: It is, it is.

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: And thank heavens for Jesus.

Jim: (laughs) Yes, exactly.

Courtney: And I think one of the verses that we talked about earlier, Jim, was when we read in Galatians about fruit of the Spirit, some of these things aren’t optional. You know, if we’re a believer, and we’ve got the Holy Spirit in us, some of these things we should have in our lives, and they should be a fruit of walking with the Lord. But when you look at virtues, um, and you don’t want to say, If I’m not doing these 12 that Courtney put in her book, then I’m a failure. That’s not the case. My hope was to provide people with a conversation starter and resources say, If you are valuing a few of these things, and you want some of these virtues and values that are biblical, to surface up in your home to say, We were a family that was about love, We were a family that was about God’s generosity, then here’s a few ways that you might learn how to practice that daily.

Jim: Yeah. And in fact, last time we talked about love and forgiveness and perseverance. And if you want to know about those, get the CD. And today we’re going to talk about respect, service and humility. So let’s get to it.

Courtney: Sure.

Jim: Um, how do we, how do we look at respect and (laughs) and this could be… I’m laughing because I’m thinking of how much disrespect kids-

Courtney: (laughs)

Jim: … can give you as parents. Um, talk about how you can convey the virtue of respect without it coming with a dirty look as a parent. (laughs)

Courtney: Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. We can easily say what respect is by going through the list of what disrespect is.

Jim: Right (laughs)

Courtney: And I have some pet peeves. You know, interrupting is one of my, you know, I feel like we’ve got it together as parents until we go into a public setting and my kids start interrupting me in front of other adults. I’m like, don’t they know I wrote a parenting book?

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: Like stop interrupting me in front of you.

Jim: This is about your embarrassment?

Courtney: Totally.

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: And so, I have to think you know, I’m raising adults, is what I’m doing. I’m not trying to perform and look get in front of my friends and have them behave like good little Christian kids.

Jim: That’s a good point.

Courtney: And so, I want them actually learning how to sit at a business dinner and operate in a respectful way. I want them to be able to you know, go to class and respect the teacher and their authority when I’m not there and when I’m not looking at them with a dirty look across the room. So this plays out from when the time they’re little that we’re practicing. And so, I have them go back into a restaurant and thank the people for the meal. I have them-

Jim: Oh, that’s good.

Courtney: … not crawl through the landscaping at places. And if they did it, and they are little kids I’ll say, “Oh, okay, jump out of there real quick. Did you know somebody used their hands to plant those flowers and they worked really hard? And how would that make you feel if you know, someone stomped all over your work?” And- and so, a lot of times it isn’t a lecture and they’re in trouble, it’s just bringing their attention to somebody else who’s maybe involved in this, and that made them feel bad, when you stomped on that.

John: I appreciate your tone right there as you’re speaking, because that’s one of the things I’ve really had to struggle with. My wife caught me the other day and she said, “You sound so stern right there.”

Courtney: Uh-huh.

John: And we’ve had to really, um, watch the tone. It’s easy to get in that lecture mode-

Courtney: Yeah.

John: … and to say, “Hey, knock it off.” And that doesn’t communicate respect to the child.

Courtney: Right, right. And I think one of the things we can do that helps them so much is set ground rules, and let them know what we’re expecting up front. So we have this simple rules that we say, What are rest- what’s restaurant behavior? What is a dinner behavior? What is a baseball game behavior? And they need to know. We can’t expect them to understand that, and we’re in church, or you’re in big church, it’s helpful to stay quiet. Or if you’re in a funeral, this is how it’s supposed to go. You know, we can’t assume that at five years old, or seven or nine, that they know all the appropriate rules to be respectful of. Here’s how you walk through someone’s home. And, you know-

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: … ask them for something to drink, you know, or walk on their furniture. We need to ex- explain to them in a nice way of how to be respectful of others.

Jim: Now, how do you teach respect to your boys or your girls?

John: Mm-hmm-

Jim: What activity do you use?

Courtney: Yeah. This activity, you’re going to think it’s just for girls, but it’s not. And that’s a fancy feast. Um, because no matter your, um, gender, you’re going to get into a dinner situation. And you’re going to have to learn how to wait for someone to speak. And you’re going to have to learn how to greet someone at the door, or hang their coat or pull out a chair. And so before it becomes, um, your first prom, or before you’re sitting at a dinner where you’ve never done that before, I think it’s time for them to practice. And so we set up a really fancy feast in our home. I mean, we did this with a bunch of little girls, but you can do it with their cousins or their grandmother. And we’re they’re involved in the process. So they’re actually going to help serve the dinner, they’re going to greet people at the door, they may have to put on that little sport coat. Um, and we teach them how to respectfully host people in the home, and teach them before it’s the time when we go, Good luck at prom. You know, good luck at your first senior dinner. And we’ve never told them about how to you know… And it’s not about having southern, snooty fine manners, where they can’t be themselves. It’s like this is just how to engage in, and wait your turn to talk and- and pause and listen to someone’s story, and- and listen to what they’re saying, and look them in the eyes, and thank them for the meal. There’s some basic, I think, just nice polite manners. It’s not over the top.

Jim: Well, that’s good. I want to tip my hat to the south because-

Courtney: (laughs)

Jim: … they really do a good job with the kids saying, Yes, ma’am-

John: Mm-hmm-

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: …No, ma’am. Uh, have you seen that?

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, even still today. You go down there, there’s a lot of good expression from the folks in the south. So well done for you guys in Atlanta. (laughs)

Courtney: Yeah. And I think we have to go back, is why are we doing this? And the definition is honoring people and things that God created. And so, we’re not just doing it so we look good as parents and our kids look good. Like we’re trying to honor the people and things that God created.

Jim: Yeah, do it from the right heart.

Courtney: Yeah. And so we’re recognizing someone that you put in work to this or you’re someone worthy of our attention, our eyeballs, our gratitude for your dinner. And so, it’s different than just getting them, um, again, to look good.

Jim: And, uh, one important thing that I’ve learned is that it’s good to tell the kids when they’re going into a situation, as it just said with restaurant behavior-

Courtney: Mm-hmm-

Jim: … do it right before you go in. Okay, this is how we behave in this situation. This is what’s expected.

Courtney: Mm-hmm-

Jim: And then on the back end, tell them- tell them how they did. Um-

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: … you know, This was really good. Give them feedback and not just the glare when they didn’t-

Courtney: Yes.

Jim: … do right. You know, you did this well, you did this well. This is something I noticed you didn’t do so well. So you want to remember next time to pull the chair out for your mom-

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: … or something like that.

Courtney: Jim, I’m so glad you brought that out. This goes across all the virtues we have talked about. I have noticed the biggest difference in my children, when I stop and recognize the ones they’re doing well, versus trying to always talk about how we can get better. And I think, what if our jobs was to point out where God was already moving in them and already saying, You are so kind and I see it come up again and again.

Jim: Yeah.

Courtney: You are so respectful.

Jim: That’s a good point.

Courtney: And they are. Our kids are so much better than we give them credit for. And if we can start almost watching like hawks and watch when these virtues are bubbling up and stopping and pulling them aside and saying, What you just did in there with your grandmother, so respectful. What you did with your sister at the lunch table, so generous. And we just start pointing them out. Their little hearts, you can watch their faces fill up. And so, we’ve got to be diligent as parents to you know, praise them. And it’s hard to remember to do that, because we’re like watching, you know-

Jim: Well, we’re always on the negative-

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: … because it’s easier to pick it out.

Courtney: Yeah.

John: We hope this conversation with Courtney DeFeo is giving you a more positive perspective on your parenting. And she’s sharing ideas from her book, In This House, We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love & Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life. We can tell you more about that book when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or get your copy when you stopped by And now the conclusion of our time in the studio with Courtney DeFeo on Focus on the Family.

Jim: Courtney, when you look at one of the hardest virtues sometimes to teach younger children, it’s this idea of service. And it’s probably the one as parents that we really want to see them excel in (laughs)-

Courtney: Mm-hmm-

Jim: … because we would like them to show service to us and to others. H- how do you, uh, begin to impart the virtue of service into your seven, eight, nine-year-old?

Courtney: Yes. Service is one of those that when it becomes their idea, it soars. And so whenever we can give them an opportunity to try it, and the definition is using our hands, feet and hearts, to honor God and love others. So it’s basically getting them in the ballgame.

Jim: Right.

Courtney: And so, when we again, when we lecture them, eyeballs start rolling, and things go- they get the concept of serving, but so often in the Christian community, they always are told they’re too young. You know, you have to be 12 or 13, or 14, to get involved. And so, when we can come up with activities that say, “You are not too young.” And I want to give you a story that will just blow your mind and give you an example. This little girl CJ is in my kids school, she’s seven years old. And just this last week, she heard a story, buy food for the poor on the radio, and they were saying, “Kids in Guatemala, they actually starve if they don’t get the food that they need.” And she said to her mom, “I’m so sad. Mom, these kids can’t die”. And they said, she said, “They do.” And they said, “You know, for X dollars a month, you can feed a child and she’ll- they’ll make it the whole year.” And she said, “I want to do something.” At seven years old-

Jim: Wow.

Courtney: … pricked her heart, and the mom said, “I’ll help you, you just tell me what you want to do.” So they said, “We’re going to have, this Saturday, we’re going to have, uh, a water stand. And then they went- also, she said, “I’ll start a GoFundMe page, and I’ll share it on my Facebook page.” And her goal was $300, she could feed 11 kids for the year.

Jim: Wow.

Courtney: That girl, seven years old, raised over $800. And she’s feeding 33 kids for a year for Food for the Poor.

Jim: That’s incredible.

Courtney: So I’ve shared that story with so many people. I put it on my blog, we went to her water stand and got- took pictures of her. And so she is beaming. And she’s got to tell her whole school about it. And so, it just showed me that just when you get a little girl’s heart pricked by the Lord and say, I’m going to do something about that. Her friends got on board. And all of a sudden, there’s groups involved and they’re moving. And what, she doesn’t need electron service, she experienced it and she said, “I’m doing this every year.” And so that is just an example to say, you know, God can move through these kids. They’re not too young.

Jim: That’s fantastic.

Courtney: Love it.

Jim: Really to have her open her heart up that way.

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: She’s going to be a powerhouse-

Courtney: Totally, totally.

Jim: … as an adult. You could see her something big.

Courtney: And my girls watching her, their wheels were turning.

Jim: Yeah.

Courtney: They’re going, “Okay, I don’t know if I’ll do a water stand. I don’t know if it’s Guatemala, but I can make a difference.’ And I said, ‘Yes, you can. You just let me know what your idea is and I will help you get there.”

Jim: That is good.

John: Now not everybody is going to have a motivated seven-year-old daughter.

Courtney: Absolutely. Yeah (laughs)

John: So what are some, uh, maybe starter steps to get there-

Courtney: Yeah.

John: … in terms of teaching service?

Courtney: Absolutely. One of the ideas that we have in the book is this is basically your chance (laughs). The moms may roll their eyes, the kids are going to love it, to have a group play date, and it’s going to surround on service. Because kids- my kids are begging me all the time to have tons of friends over and I’ll say yes to one. But more- more than one kids stresses me out. You’re used to it, John, with six kids. Um, but so you have a group play date and the topic is service. So we say you can have five friends over, six friends, but we’re going to do something for the community. And so whether it’s a carwash and we’re going to just have a free car wash and all the things go to charity. We’re going to make meals and all the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches go-

Jim: This is just a play day at your house?

Courtney: Yes.

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: Or you can go to a school, you know, that kind of thing. But the idea is that when they’re with their friends, peer pressure is working in your favor. Because when it’s their- their idea, and their friends are doing it together, it’s a group service play date. So that’s the big idea and I’ve seen it work, it’s worked for my kids. And I think it you know, for your teens, you may have to get a little more creative on where they’re going. They may want to leave the house (laughs) to serve but-

Jim: Duh.

Courtney: … Duh, dad.

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: They want to be on their phones serving. (laughs)

Jim: Yeah. We’ll have to think of some things for-

John: You said serving, not surfing?

Courtney: Serving, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

John: Okay.

Courtney: You know, another idea that we saw at our school is they did a Valentine’s brunch, and it’s a Christian school, so they can do this a little bit differently. But they did a Valentine’s brunch for widows. And it was so cool to watch these widows walk in on brunch- on Valentine’s and have a place to eat and be honored by seventh graders. And so-

Jim: That is awesome.

Courtney: … you saw these seventh graders walking these ladies and seating them, bringing their lunch over to them. And I thought how cool. That is not just a suggestion, it’s biblical. It’s like, you know, care for our widows. And here they were, and they do it every year. And so, I thought what a great idea that whole classroom got together and honored some widows that weren’t probably typically loved on on Valentine’s Day for some years.

Jim: Now that is so sweet.

Courtney: Isn’t that awesome?

Jim: I love that. I can just envision them pulling in-

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: … pushing in the chair-

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: … for those ladies.

Courtney: Amazing, amazing.

Jim: Yeah. That is wonderful. Hey, um, we want to also cover humility, uh, (laughs) which, you know, we got to recognize here when you’re talking specifically about teaching children virtues, you know, there’s recent scientific research that shows boys, for example, their judgment area of their brain is not fully, this is not going to come as a shock to anybody-

John: (laughs)

Jim: … the judgment area of their brain is not fully developed until their mid-20s (laughs). Now, everybody is, Yeah, okay. I could see that. And the point there is, sometimes you need to be patient, that virtue of patient as a parent.

Courtney: Absolutely.

Jim: Because your kids aren’t going to get it. You’re going to do this with your eight-year-old or your 10-year-old. And guess what? You’re going to have to do it again. And you may have to do it again and again and again, through their teen years and all that. Because you’re not going to, it’s not formulaic, you’re not going to do it once, walk away and go, “Okay, they have patience, because we did this great thing.” Um, it will help, it will contribute to forming that in them. But it’s not a one stop formulaic approach, is it?

Courtney: No, absolutely not. And I’ll be the first to say, I could do all of this stuff, and my kids could make some really interesting choices that could have me back here on the show, uh, talking about some really poor choices or failures. You know, I had some really interesting choices in college, and I was raised in a great Christian home. So all of- there is not a formula. Um, there’s definitely not. And we have to have our hands open and say, God is going to work in them. And a lot of this stuff can be used for their failures, in every one of these virtues. We can say, “My kids bombed in every category. But we had the best lesson through the failure.”

Jim: Yeah.

Courtney: I know in my life, I look back and say where I failed in every one of these categories, is where God taught me the most.

Jim: Well, and that’s where humility is so good.

Courtney: Uh-huh-

Jim: So touch on that specifically.

Courtney: Absolutely. Humility has a really interesting scale. We talked about earlier how there’s a scale on all these and then there- there’s some gray area. On one end of the scale of humility, you have parents that have, are almost like the parents that put their kids on American Idol and they’ve told them, they’re actually the best singers ever.

Jim: (laughs) Until they show up on American Idol.

Courtney: Right. And you’re thinking, why didn’t someone tell them they can’t sing?

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: They’re terrible. You know, and so my parents were awesome. My mom thinks I basically ran Chick-fil-A when I worked there. I’m like, Mom, no, I was not true [inaudible] I was-

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: … I was good and I loved marketing, but I was not running the company. But she has built me up over the years, and I’m so thankful for her being a cheerleader. But there’s a, tends to be a skew of parents that want to build up such confidence in kids that they overdo it, you know. So then the other end of the scale are parents so terrified of that they never encourage their kids and they don’t-

John: Don’t want them to be proud.

Courtney: … they don’t want them to be proud. So they just knock them down, and they don’t ever encourage them. And so, I find myself wanting to be in the middle, skewing towards confidence-

Jim: Yeah.

Courtney: … and saying the world is going to knock them down, the friends are going to knock them down. And so I’m not going to lie to them, or I’m not going to be truthful about their weaknesses, but I’m going to tell them, You are made for a purpose. Tell them the truth about how God made them and build them up, because every day someone else is going to be knocking.

Jim: Well, if you think about it in marriage, and we talked about it here to Focus on the Family, you need a 5:1 compliment ratio-

Courtney: Yes.

Jim: … to criticism.

Courtney: Yeah.

Jim: It’s even bigger when it comes to your children, I think, it may be 10:1, where they need to feel confident about who they are in God and know their weaknesses, but you know, criticize in a limited way. And, uh, if not ever, you know, constructive criticism is fine. But you got to build them up, so I like that. But with humility, what would be, uh, a way to get that point across in an activity lesson?

Courtney: Yeah. For activity for humanity, we’ve done a thing called Job well done card. And I think an important activity for our kids early on is to know that they can celebrate others, even when they’re not being recognized. And this has been so huge for my girls, because they want to win, they’re competitive like their mother, and they want to be recognized and win at everything, and they just won’t be. And so, over time, I’ve wanted them to show up at their friends awards banquets. I’ve wanted them to show up at concerts and say, “You are not in the center stage today, but your friend is”. And that is hard for them.

Jim: Is that, yeah. I was going to say-

Courtney: It is.

Jim: … how is that going?

Courtney: And it’s hard as sisters, and it’s hard probably as brothers to say, I wanted to be on the soccer team. Well, you know, tonight’s your brother’s night. So we’re going to go celebrate. And my, um, daughter’s teacher, Mrs. Brown, just told me that her daughter said, tonight is this, you know, senior awards banquet or high school awards and she said, “Well, I’m not going to get anything.” And she said, “Well guess who is? Your friends and we’re going.”

Jim: Yeah.

Courtney: And little did her daughter know she actually was getting something but she made her daughter go anyways, because she knew all of her friends were getting awards. And- and that definition for our kids is giving God and others the center stage, is like, how can we keep deflecting things to say-

Jim: Yeah.

Courtney: … this is not about us all the time. Sometimes it’s about what God has done in our lives or it’s about others getting the center stage, and how can we continue to deflect praise and glory to somebody else-

Jim: Yeah.

Courtney: … other than ourselves. And that’s hard.

Jim: Yeah, it is hard. Humility is a tough one. I remember my youngest son, he went out for the basketball team not long ago. And there are 40 kids going for 12 positions. And he had not played much basketball. I think he did one year at the Y. And so I, before I dropped him off, I said, “Now, Troy, it’s going to be kind of tough because you haven’t been in it, and these other kids have probably been in it for six or seven years. So just you know, do your best and then hang with whatever happens.” He goes, “Okay. Yeah, dad.” And he had such a great attitude. So the first night he got through, they had cut a few of the kids. So he got through, and he was telling me, he’s all excited. “I got through the first night, Dad, I’m good, I’m good.” And I said, “Well, there’s always tomorrow night, so just guard your heart a little.” And he said, “Yeah, I’m good. I’m good. There’s some good players out there.” And so the second night came around, I picked him up and he jumped in the car, and I could tell he had a little longer face, he wasn’t quite as excited this time. I said, “Well how did it go?” He said, “Well, I got cut.” And I said, ‘How you feel about it?” He said, “Actually, I feel pretty good. You know, I haven’t played basketball much. So I’ll just try harder and come out next year and try again.” And I was so proud of him. He wasn’t owning it in a bad way, he was owning it in a realistic way. He just knew his skill set was not as strong yet. And hopefully he’ll get there. But I think it was a good life lesson for him.

Courtney: Good for him. I think one of the hardest things for me definitely in writing this book with such young children, is I thought, Lord, you’re going to have to, I can’t share all my insights, what do I know? It’s got to be something you’re sharing and teaching me through my struggles as a parent. And one of my biggest struggles is the strengths and weaknesses of my children, and knowing how do I handle that. Because you can compare your children to other children so easily. And here’s what I felt like he laid on my heart. A quick prayer that I’ll share with you is, Lord, let their weaknesses be the very thing that draws them to you. And let their strengths be the very thing that draws others to you. So let me unpack that a little bit. I thought, Lord, they’re so weak, I want that to be the thing that they just cling to you and say, I don’t understand why I’m not very good in this area. And let that be the thing that just s- that draws them so close to God. And then when they’re really, really good at something, I don’t want that to puff them up. I want that to be the thing that people go, I don’t understand how she’s so gifted at that, that must be God.

Jim: Yeah.

Courtney: And so that was just a big aha moment as I wrote this chapter for somethin’ God was like was like, I don’t want you to forget this about humility, because you’re going to be, you’re going to tend to be so proud of your children that you’re going to want to like brag on them (laughs)-

Jim: Yeah.

Courtney: … and be, and not so humble parent. So-

Jim: It’s-

Courtney: … that’s my prayer.

Jim: … it’s a great virtue. All of these have been terrific. And these are the core things we want to teach our children. Um, Courtney, it comes to mind that, um, you can do all this great work and teach these good virtues, but there’s one thing that has to be done. And a lot of, surprisingly, a lot of parents, uh, look past this very core thing, and that’s how to lead your child into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Courtney: Oh, yes.

Jim: I mean, we- you can do all the right teaching and think that it’s through osmosis or absorption, that they understand how to connect the dots to God. How do you do that as a parent in an effective way? How do you, uh, turn your child’s heart toward the Lord and deal with that very fundamental thing of making sure they’re making a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Courtney: I’m so glad you brought that up. There’s an entire chapter in the book on faith. But for mine, I had so much nerves around that. I thought, am I going to say it right? You know, I remember as a child, I probably said a prayer about eight times. You know, you go to camp, you know like, I think I’ll say it one more time, just in case.

Jim: Just to be sure.

Courtney: Just to be sure I said it right. And so, we were looking at the ABC Scripture Cards, and Ella was memorizing V. And says, very truly, I will tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. And she said, “Mom, what does that mean?” And she was five and I thought, Oh no-

Jim: Yeah, what a concept.

Courtney: … Oh no, here we go.

Jim: (laughs)

Courtney: We’re having that conversation, and I don’t know if I’m ready, and am I going to do it right. And the control freak in me thought, am I going to say the right words? Is she going to get it? Is she too young? And so I just felt this push from the Lord to tell her, tell her what it means. You know-

Jim: And don’t underestimate their ability to get it.

Courtney: Their ability to get it. And so I said, Well, El, you know, eternal life is somewhere that you go, you know, after this life is to Heaven. That’s where Jesus is, it’s where my grandmother is. And it’s where I’m going to go, because I believe in Jesus, and I put my faith in Him. And I want you to go there someday. And she said, “Well, I want to do that too, I believe in Jesus.” And I said, “Okay.” And so we prayed together, and I just felt this release, it’s- the Lord is like, It’s not that big a deal. You know, you’re- you’re over complicating it.

Jim: All right. Make it simple.

Courtney: And trust that I can work that relationship out with her. And I think a forced faith on our kids is going to fizzle. I think when we can allow and trust that God is big enough to move her heart, and I’ve allowed that to happen with the baptism process, she has not made that choice yet. And I’m like, that’s her timeline.

Jim: Yeah.

Courtney: That’s her process. But I’m going to keep, um, putting her in a church. I’m going to keep showing her these things. We’re going to keep studying God’s word. But it’s her faith and her journey, and it’s- and my other daughter too.

John: And that’s how we concluded our second part of our conversation with Courtney DeFeo, reviewing her book, In This House, We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love & Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life. And, uh, Jim, Courtney shared a lot of really practical, inspirational ideas for families.

Jim: She did. And I really appreciate her passion as a mom to love her kids well and plant those seeds of the gospel in their lives. And you know, as parents, we can’t control the outcome. Our children will choose their own path in terms of how they’ll live and believe once they’re adults. But you can be faithful in sharing God’s truth with your children and modeling how to live as a follower of Christ. You won’t do it perfectly, nobody does. But even that’s an opportunity to teach your children about confessing mistakes and asking for forgiveness. And the good news is, you don’t need to carry the load of evangelizing your family all on your own. Focus on the Family is here to help and we’ve got lots of resources that will equip and encourage you, like Courtney’s book and our monthly Live It challenges where we motivate children of all ages to take their faith seriously, and live out what the Bible teaches in very tangible ways. These are great tools to help your entire family grow spiritually, and I hope you’ll contact us to learn more about them.

John: And the place to start is, or just call 800 the letter A and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459.

Jim: And let me encourage you to support the spiritual development of other families as well. Every year Focus on the Family is contacted by literally hundreds of thousands of parents who are looking for help. Uh, thanks to the generosity of friends like you, were able to produce broadcasts like this one and provide the resources that we’ve mentioned. But we need your ongoing help to keep that process running. Please consider making a monthly pledge to Focus on the Family today. And with those gifts, we’ll be able to reach even more parents and equip them to share the good news of Jesus Christ. So give generously today.

John: And if a monthly pledge is more than you can afford right now, we do understand. Anything you can offer will be helpful. And when you join the support team will say thanks for your generosity by sending a copy of Courtney DeFeo’s book, In This House, We Will Giggle, and it may be that you know of a family who would benefit from this wonderful resource. Our number again is 800-A-FAMILY or donate online at And next time on this broadcast, we’ll hear from a former abortion doctor who experienced a complete turnaround in her perspective.


Dr. Patti Giebink: But it became so clear to me that- that God is a God of life, that’s His character, that’s His heart. There should be no question.

End of Preview

John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for this episode of Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

In This House, We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love & Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life

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