Character Training in the Home (Part 1)

David and Laurie Callihan
 The Time Magazine article of August 27, 2001 “Is Home Schooling Good for America?” once again increased Americans’ awareness of the benefits of this method of educating our children.  Ironically, the impression is that home schooling is a new phenomenon.  In actuality, it is unarguably the oldest form of instruction.   

Let us remember that any time our children are in our home, they are being “home educated.”  During the first five years of life, many moms stay home with their children until they enter public schools.  This too is home education.  In fact, many psychologists and sociologists believe it is the most important time of learning.  It’s all a matter of perspective. 

Those of us who believe the Biblical account of creation are convinced that our father and mother, Adam and Eve, were also the first parents.  Their primary role in raising children was to instruct in God’s values.  We can just imagine the ways this took place in the first home.   

Try to picture in your mind how Adam would have talked with Cain and Abel about those first days of life, when God walked with him “in the Garden in the cool of the day.”  Reflect on the moment when he had to explain his and their mother’s sinful choices to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, when they were subsequently banned from the indescribable Garden of Eden.  It must have been heart-wrenching for this, our first father, to attempt to explain his actions through his embarrassment, guilt, and regret.   

But in this first home school, lessons of character were being taught.  A brightening moment may have been when he explained God’s grace and mercy in providing atonement for Adam and Eve’s sin, through the killing of the animals in order to clothe the couple.  From the beginning, God’s loving character was revealed in the midst of His being violated by mankind. 

With the tragedies of terrorism that have taken place in recent days, we have an opportunity to shine light in the darkness with our children.  What Satan meant for evil, God intends for good.  “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  This is one of those opportunities.  Our children’s eyes are wide open to see an atrocity such has never occurred in the history of the civilized world.  Even more so, this heinous act was committed against us.  We were the victims as a nation, as a people.  We now have the opportunity to instruct our children in virtue and character through this infamous object lesson. 

 Obviously it will take different forms depending on the age of the children.  But there are certain things that we can do with our children that are common to all ages.  Pulling together as family.  Expressing statements of love to one another; Reading the Bible together—as much as an identification that we regard God’s Word as a source of insight in times like this as anything; Praying for those who are suffering incredible agony and loss; Going to a Red Cross Center and giving blood (perhaps with the older children who are of age joinging you).   

There are countless other things that we can do.  This is where we need to go to the Lord and ask Him for wisdom.  Be creative.  Think of things to do with your children that will allow them to give unselfishly to others who are suffering.   

In our next column we will discuss additional ideas on how to teach character issues to our kids.  You can learn more practical ways in our book, The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School, or by reviewing our Web site,