Moral education is a primary teaching emphasis within the Growing Families community. That is because a moral life style that shows consideration for others, is a way of life, not simply window dressing added to a child’s personality. Parents help their children learn moral lessons, internalize meaningful values, and then translate them into social skills. These parents are in tune with the guiding principles for raising children who are kind, courteous, respectful, cooperative, confident, and sensitive to the needs of others. Yet, we know how easy it is to list moral qualities, of which all people have a general knowledge, but the particular refinement of virtues our community strives for, is indeed most rare. For such refinement speaks to an uncommon level of devotion to on the part of parents to live the virtues that they are working to instill within their children.
Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Parenting at this level of moral achievement takes time, effort, patience, sacrifice and a commitment to the refinement of virtues ascribed to a noble and beautiful life. This is the mother, father and child whose inner person abides with all that is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good character, excellence and those things that are worthy of praise (c.f. Philippians 4:8). No child arrives at this level of moral distinctiveness if the home life from which he or she comes is not already conversant with such virtue.
However, mere knowledge of virtue is not sufficient without a basic understanding of how children integrate moral thought and how those thoughts eventually form life-long perceptions. Parents must equally stay vigilant of the many moral inconsistencies confronting children each day. Hollywood serves up a culture of death, network TV exploits their innocence, and the Internet is sophisticated enough to identify their secret desires and prey on their weaknesses.
Yet, in the end, the refinement of a child’s character is largely the product of Mom and Dad’s direct influence. Unless that influence is willfully surrendered to outside forces or sacrificed to life’s busy demands, children will absorb the moral lessons of their home life. Whatever character qualities are tossed aside or devalued will be devalued by the child. It is simply a truth of life. If something is not important to Mom and Dad, it will not spontaneously become important to the child.
The various resources offered by Growing Families International can help parents connect the dots between God’s message of love and good will toward man and character development. God’s love in action is an extension of His character, and training that reflects His character satisfies two human needs. First, through moral training, children learn of the nature of God, which is different than the natures with which they were born. The natural world is seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted, but the supernatural world is revealed through quiet and unseen things like the Holy Spirit, revelation, faith and the virtues that reflect God’s person, heart and will. Second, the outward expression of God’s love is the great evangelizer, for wherever His love is shown in word or deed, there is life. Children trained along these lines become flag bearers of truth and beauty within the society. Therefore, it is out of the moral context of God’s love that our community finds strength, direction and purpose.