Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Olivia and Kurt Bruner's new book, How to Mess up Your Child’s Life: Proven Strategies and Practical Tips (FaithWords, 2009).  

Christians have long recognized how much destruction the traditional seven deadly sins can bring into their lives. But the good news is, you can fight those sins in your kids’ lives by helping them develop corresponding virtues – virtues that will lead them to the abundant life God wants them to enjoy.

Here’s how you can help your kids fight deadly sins with life-giving virtues:

Be willing to work hard. Far too many parents don’t try hard to train their kids spiritually. The tragic result is kids who simply give into their sinful natures of selfishness and laziness – the default position for living in this fallen world. But parents who care enough to consistently devote their best effort to raising their kids faithfully usher God’s powerful transformation into their kids’ lives. Parents who are willing to work hard help their kids overcome their natural bent and grow to become the people God intends for them to be – complete with all the blessings that will bring into their lives.

Overcome pride. Pride is the lack of humility befitting a creature of God. You’ll end up nurturing enormous egos in your kids if you indulge their selfish impulses by saying “yes” to whatever they want. Instead, set healthy boundaries and stick to them. Whenever you praise your kids, be sure to attach that praise to good attitudes or behavior that they’ve shown recently. Rather than teaching them to admire themselves regardless of how bad they’ve been or how little they’ve accomplished, focus on praising their actual effort and character. Teach your kids the importance of working with others instead of expecting to live life on their terms all the time. Require them to help with household chores and other family responsibilities.

Don’t rescue them from failure; encourage them to learn from it. Stick to your convictions during conflicts with your kids rather than backing down. Help your kids learn why authority is important, and teach them to submit to it. Show them how to confess their sins and repent to God. Require them to treat other people with respect.

Overcome envy. Envy is jealousy of some other person’s happiness. Teach your kids to be content with what they have at any given time. Resist comparing what your family has to what others have – from a larger house or a newer car, to better grades or more talents. Don’t complain about your circumstances or nurture an attitude of resentment. Help your kids notice all the good that God is doing in your lives. Encourage them to thank God regularly for their blessings, and to thank other people who’ve done something valuable for them. Gratefulness will melt away envy.

Overcome anger. Sinful anger is unworthy irritation and lack of self-control. Anger in itself isn’t either good or bad; the key is in how you express it. Teach your kids that while getting angry at the right things (like injustices) and doing so in healthy ways that don’t harm others is fine, they need to control destructive anger. Do all you can to create an environment of peace and quiet – not tension – at home. Make sure your kids don’t have to walk on eggshells to try to keep family members from losing their tempers. Give them the security of knowing that you love them unconditionally and will always be willing to forgive them for their mistakes.