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Give Your Kids a Virtue Workout

Photo credit: Province of British Columbia via Flickr



What does it mean to show high moral standards and how on earth do we teach our kids to do it? Virtue training is a great way to start.

by Heidi Indahl




1. behavior showing high moral standards.

2. synonyms: goodness, virtuousness, righteousness, morality, integrity, dignity, rectitude, honor, decency, respectability, nobility, worthiness, purity

Intentional-FamilyWhat does it mean to show high moral standards and how on earth do we teach our kids to do it?

Virtue training is something that we work on regularly during our family meetings, but at the same time something that I always feel would benefit from more work and more conversation.  When I am at a conference or looking through a new catalog, new virtue training resources are often the first things to catch my eye.

To me, living a life of virtue is vitally important because it is the doing of our faith. Virtue is the action. We have knowledge and beliefs and attitudes, all of which are important foundations to virtue but not as important as actually showing virtue. Virtue is something that requires action, because when done right it should be a visible characteristic.

Looking at the list of synonyms from the definition above, they are almost all observable. They are things that have to be demonstrated. If virtue remains inside is it really virtue?

Our family is active in martial arts and the life skills curriculum we follow there dovetails nicely with our faith training.  We even use a lot of the same language to talk about various focus areas and tie the two together, whenever possible. As a part of our Taekwondo training, we learn one-steps that are short sequences of moves matched to a set of words that define the life skill. For example, “Self control! Controlling my actions, self control.”

Among the great communion of saints are individuals who have made their faith training a priority. They studied, they prayed, and then they practiced. Again and again and again. We are not saints yet, so to become saints we need to learn from those who have gone before us and get serious about our faith training to build a life of virtue. We can begin with study and with prayer, and then we can practice.

We wouldn’t (or shouldn’t at least) hop on a treadmill and start with long distance goal. In the same way, we don’t become saints overnight. Think couch to 5K, not ultra-marathon.

I can’t really give you one system that will guarantee a virtuous home. As in any sport or academic pursuit, it is time and practice that will build the tools necessary for success. Study the virtues as a family and pray for guidance in choosing those areas you will train. When you have studied and trained one virtue, keep practicing and start the process again with another!

Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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