Giving Our Kids a Moral Compass

I’m horrible at directions. I can’t read a map and I’m at my navigating best when someone is showing me exactly where to go.

One time I described what goes on in my brain when I see a map to my bewildered husband who had drawn a perfectly uniform grid on a napkin to help me get from Point A to B. I said, “is this how you see things? In a neat, tidy grid?” He shook his head.

I scribbled all over the paper and said, “This is how I see it. It’s like a nest in here,” and I tapped the side of my head.

No matter how you see the road of parenting, it’s hard to navigate without a compass.

When my son has something heavy on his heart, he is restless. After the third time of letting me know he couldn’t sleep the other night, I patted the bed and said, “Spill it. What’s bothering you?”

It didn’t take long for him to tell me that the book he checked out from the library for his English project had a few cuss words in it.

And it bothered him.

I hugged my sweet kid and my first thought was That’s it? That’s what was bothering you?  But I didn’t because for his entire life, I’ve taught him those words were wrong and asked him not to use them. It’s only to be expected that he would have an internal red flag when he saw them in a book.

giving our kids a moral compass

It was his moral compass giving him direction.

Now, you and I both know that cuss words are A Thing in middle school. Kids are given just enough freedom to express themselves and many, many children try on cursing for size.  I was raised black and white and cussing was on the top ten list of sins you should not do. But I long for grace to be the banner we wave in our home, not rules. So, we talked long about what this was really about. We talked about the way he felt when he discovered one of his nice friends curses occasionally, “It makes me wonder if he is a Christian.”

“Do you think I’m a Christian?” I asked. He nodded his head.

“Have you heard me say a cuss word?” and we both knew the answer. It’s not a common every day thing, but cuss happens y’all.

We talked about grace and not generalizing, but also about the importance of acknowledging when something upsets his moral compass and speaking up about it when it’s necessary.

The next day, he got a new book from the library without cuss words. He also decided that he would offer more grace to his classmates.

How we give our children a moral compass:

We Teach them Absolute Truths

Truth is absolute. There are definitely absolute truths or standards by which to live our lives and raise our kids. The Bible is filled with truth: There is a God, God is love; actions have consequences (Romans 1:18). Truth is absolute; it is not subjective. Truth doesn’t shift when our culture changes it’s mind.

“In a society where ultimate truth is treated like a fairy tale, an outdated idea or even an insult to human intelligence, the motto of the day becomes, “WHATEVER!” Believe whatever you want. Do whatever seems best to you. Live for whatever brings you pleasure, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. And of course, be tolerant. Don’t try to tell anyone that their whatever is wrong.”-Linda Keffer

When we teach our kids these truths, we need to take a principal like “don’t have sex before you get married”, and offer a precept (a scripture that tells us this) with it. When we couple these together, it reveals a characteristic of God that says He loves me and wants me to experience purity in my mind and body and relationships and so He protects me with the absolute truth. (Teaching from Right From Wrong by Josh McDowell)

We Let those Absolute Truths Be Our Guide

It’s so easy for our children to question what truth is in our constantly changing world, especially when there are being fed lies by our culture, especially in media. Lies that say they have to be sexy or thin or tolerant. We live counter to cultural lives by not jumping on every new norm that presents itself in society.  It’s okay to say what we believe, to stand up for Biblical principals no matter what we read or hear in our society. When we teach absolute truths from the Bible, we let those truths guide us.

Present Opportunities to fall in love with Jesus

As a teen, some of my decisions to remain pure, not cuss-party-drink-or-date-boys-that-do, were driven by fear and not always by relationship. While I want my kids to have a healthy fear of momma and daddy and God, I mostly want them to make choices because of their relationship with God, out of a desire to honor and follow Him. It goes beyond attending church once a week and doing moral stuff. Our kids need to see us pursuing a relationship with God; they need us to lead them in devotions, teach them how to pray, homeschool them in the ways of God.

If our kids don’t have a moral compass, they will feel lost in the world, constantly changing how they see truth. Our kids are going to make mistakes, just like us. It’s how we learn how to get it right. And when we offer grace, we show them more of Jesus.

It’s not an easy road to navigate, but if we ask Him to guide us, He will.


  1. 1

    Heather S. says

    Great post, Kristen! Grace is such an amazing concept, but an abused one, at times. This was a perfect example of what real grace is. And you are so right – our children need US to train them up in the Word…daily, hourly, through everything we need to turn to God’s word. We need to speak the truth and stand up for truth, always letting the love of Christ be our guide.

  2. 3

    Karyl says

    “Homeschool them in the ways of God” — Amen! I don’t want our kidlet to grow up in a Christian home; I want her to grow up with Jesus. Thanks so much for your encouraging posts!

  3. 6

    Donna H. says

    Great post! I’ve been struggling with releasing my children MORE! I know right?! I’ve never really considered myself a very controlling person but the Lord impressed on my heart that I was trying to hard to “stir” my children’s conscience at times. Instead I was making their hearts callous to His still small voice. I know they know the difference between right and wrong. We’ve discussed it and prayed about it together and now I’m trying to butt out (in this area) and let God handle their consciences.

  4. 7

    Sylvia says

    This is a great post. Love the “cuss happens ya’ll”. Can I get a bumper sticker? I’ve done much better since the BAMA/Texas aTm game but BAMA plays LSU in a few weeks….

  5. 8


    I wish I could “like” this. In a world that lives such extremes, grace is such an unimagined thing. We either have too much pride to understand it, or too much shame to accept it. God is so much bigger than our shame, and I am so grateful for that grace. Thanks Kristin.

  6. 9

    Jenni Williams says

    I had the first sex talk with my tween the other day. The funny thing is, my husband and I were talking about how she was going to approach me soon, so we’ve been praying for the Holy Ghost to lead my answer. AND BOY DID HE SHOW UP!

    Her and I were up early. For some reason I decided to eat breakfast with her. I usually Eat befor they wake up or after they leave for school. We’ve been eating by candlelight lately, so that my girls can wake up more gently. (Amazing. So much calmer in the morning around here. You really should try it.). Anyways, I sat done and she popped the question. First, I took a deep breath and said a little prayer. Then I asked her if she knew what that word meant. She said, “it’s when you kiss a guy.” I am not even gonna pretend that my heart soared when she said this. “Whew! I’m not too late!”

    I explained that Sex is a gift God has given married couples to show how much the love one another and “become one” in body and spirit. And, so that the can start a family. I then reiterated something we’ve been feeling them for years, ” you CAN have a baby befor you get married, but that’s not what God wants us for us.”

    I told her God wants to protect our hearts and when you engage in a physical relationship before marriage, your heart will break into a thousand pieces if the relationship doesn’t work out. It will hurt a bit even if you don’t, you’ll probably think its the worst thing that has ever happened to you even, but, I promise you, it will hurt a thousand times more if you’ve had sex. Also, while a baby is ALWAYS a blessing, it is so much harder to be a single parent, for both you and the baby, than it is to to be a team.. You will have to make sacrifices that you shouldn’t have to, in order to be a good parent. You may not be able to fulfill your current dreams, because, once you are a parent, the needs of the baby should always be your first priority.

    Then I closed by reinterating how much GOD loves us. How all of his rules and commandments are there to keep us safe and happy. Sex is a beautiful gift. its not anything to be ashamed of, but WAY more beautiful when you wait for the man Gid has handpicked for you. Your forever love. When you listen GOD, your not saying NO, you are saying YES.

    So grateful that she got it and it was enough for now. So wasn’t ready to explain the logistics. (She does already understand how her body works).

    Go Holy Spirit!

    • 9.1

      Christy says

      Thanks Jenni, that was a wonderful way to explain things. Not too much…not too little. I have been feeling that I”m going to have to deal with this soon and I LOVE how you said the Holy Spirit showed up! Thank you for that reminder to pray, pray, pray!

  7. 10


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