The Bible gives parents 3 fundamental pillars in shaping children to develop spiritually. Parents are implored to facilitate understanding, develop character, and advance children's relationship with God.
The task of building character is paramount for most parents. We have this drive of pride as we bring our students to church, watch them with friends, and hear feedback from our friends. We want to hear that our child is obedient, looks out for the weak, has convictions of right and wrong, chooses good over evil, etc. We focus on these actions, thinking our child's character is evident because the actions are right. The Bible has a better approach.
The Bible is full of stories of people who had right actions. Noah built an ark, Abraham left Sodom, Esther defended her people, Joseph stayed with Mary, Timothy built the church. But the Bible is also full of people who didn't have right actions. Noah got drunk, Abraham lied to Pharaoh, Joseph doubted the Angel, Timothy wanted to quit. The Bible's view of character seems to center more on people knowing who they are and to whom they belong rather than doing the right thing. Noah walked with God, Abraham listened to God, Joseph heard God's plan, Timothy was discipled to see God's work. These people received understanding that doing the right thing was more an act of living a reflection of their God than a work towards holiness.
Ultimately, as parents seek to build a godly and biblically-based character in their students they need to surround their family with Biblical teaching. Secular character, explaining good works and Judeo-Christian ethics without God, highlights things like respect, hard-work and honesty as pillars of society. A Biblically-based perspective shows those outward actions as the result of a right view of God and man. A right view of God leads to right character. We have respect for others because they are made in the image of God. We have a sense of hard-work because it is in God's character to make beautiful things and declare them good. We are honest because that trait is woven throughout the character of God, the character we are made in the image of.
Therefore, the key ingredient in building character is understanding God. This is a fundamental practice in scripture. God instructs the nation of Israel to remember their God. They told stories to children, built headbands to place scripture in, wove long tassels on their clothes. They spoke about the work of God as they woke-up in the morning, walked along the road, and lay down in the evening. The entire existence of their nation was a practice in Christian education. They lived a life reflecting the design of God. They learned more of God's character daily as they participated in life and studied God's commands. They were people going, acting out their God-given tasks, having a continual reminder of Whose they were, they impacted the world and lived lives of Godly character.
Use the key ingredient in your daily life. Talk to your kids about decisions you see athletes, politicians, and other role models make. Ask if their actions have character, or if they are found lacking. Then drive the conversation to the point of what character is and where we get the definition. Using this ingredient of understanding will create confidence in your student and will build a better view of their place in your family and God's world.