Check out Polly and the Screen Time Overload (TGC/Crossway, April 2022) by Betsy Childs Howard.
How might bedtime stories be forming your kids?
Every society has concepts of right and wrong which create moral ecosystems that pass down values from generation to generation. As described by Tim Keller, moral ecosystems display four distinct characteristics: moral cosmology (who we are and why we are here), moral instruction in some authoritative text, moral imagination (the stories we tell), and cohesive community made up of moral discourse, moral modeling, and moral practices.
In her talk from TGCW21, Betsy Childs Howard addresses each of these characteristics from both historical and practical viewpoints with a particular focus on moral imagination—how the stories we tell shape our children.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Betsy Childs Howard: Welcome to all of you watching online and all of you here in Indianapolis. It’s great to be with you today. My name is Betsy Childs, Howard. And I want to welcome you also, whether you’re a parent or not, there may be some times in this talk where I’ll refer to all of you as if your parents, but I know that many of you aren’t, I was, I’ve had a lifelong interest in children’s literature before I ever had a child.
And there’s many different ways to teach and spiritually, parent children. So I’m really glad if you’re here and you don’t have children, and I’m going to leave this copy of Arlo in the great book cover up at the edge of the stage after the talk. And if someone here who doesn’t have children, but loves children’s literature wants to come and get it. I would love for you to have that. So let’s say that it’s 1989 or 1990, your child might have come home from the library with a book called Heather has two mommies. Most parents would immediately know what this book is about from the title. And most of them because it’s 1989 would be fairly alarmed. But now it’s 2021. And you’re at the library with your child.
And instead of reaching for Heather has two mommies. They put this one in the library checkout basket. It’s called red crayon story. It’s a book about a crayon named red. He has a red label, but he can’t seem to draw red. His teachers, his parents and his grandparents keep pushing him to write red but he just can’t do it. No, I’ll read a little bit of what the other crayons say to him. The amber colored crayon says sometimes I wonder if he’s really read at all. Don’t be silly. It says red on his label. He came that way from the factory. Pink says frankly, I don’t think he’s very bright. Purple. Well, I think he’s lazy. Right. He’s got to press harder. really apply himself. Give him time he’ll catch on. Of course he will.
But as much as red tries. He still can’t draw red here he is trying to draw strawberries. They’re blue. He going backwards but he tried to draw the fire engine is blue. But he didn’t catch on. Here’s a blue fire at all the art supplies wanted to help. The masking tape thought he was broken inside. This will help hold you together. The scissors thought his label was too tight. One snip should do it. The pencil thought he wasn’t sharp enough. But even with all our help, and all his hard work, still, the red light is blue. One day he met a new friend. Will you make a blue ocean for my boat? I can’t. I’m red. Will you try? So he did. Thank you. It’s perfect. You’re welcome. It was easy. And he didn’t stop there bluebells bluebird Blue Whale. I’m blue. He was blue and everyone was talking. My son is brilliant. I always said he was blue. It was obvious. He’s really reaching for the sky. And he really was.
So this is a book about crayons. But it’s not just about crayons is it? It’s a book about someone who came with an outer appearance that didn’t fit with who they really were. It’s a parable about transgenderism is the story of a person born in the wrong body, who finally realizes he or she has been mislabeled and finds their true gender identity. And it’s a book that’s a lot more subtle than Heather Has Two Mommies, but that subtly makes it more effective rather than less. Most children won’t connect the book to gender identity, but the idea that their bodies are just outer labels and may miss identify what’s on the inside will work its way into their thinking.
So today we’re going to talk about stories because children are being formed by the stories they read. Sometimes that formation is negative, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And now you have an example like this book, can drive home how much for me is happening, even in a simple little book about crayons. And for the purposes of our talk today, I’m calling a story anything with a plot. So it may be a true, a made made up tale about something that really happened or something that didn’t. And I hope to get really practical today, but for just a few minutes, I want to be theoretical, and talk about how societies work, and how we learn right from wrong. And this will help us better understand the role that stories play. So I want to talk about something called Moral ecosystems.
Let’s think about society in the way values get passed down. Every society has concepts of right and wrong. And there’s overlap between societies. There’s also differences within a society on what’s right and wrong. To sociologist James Davis and Hunter and Ryan Olson have written about a concept called Moral ecosystems. An ecosystem you may remember from biology is an environment in which living organisms interact. Ecology is the study or preservation of an ecosystem, we’re going to kind of use those two terms interchangeably today. So a moral ecosystem is just a shared, moral, interactive environment. And not all moral ecosystems are the same. But they all pass down values. We may not always recognize the features of our own moral ecosystems because the one we live in is so familiar to us. It’s the water we swim in to use an old analogy.
Well, Tim Keller took Hunter and Olsen’s research and distilled out of it four characteristics of a moral ecology. I’m going to talk about those. And I don’t expect all of you to be taking notes. But if you are taking notes, or if you have something to write with, this would be the time to take notes to get these straight, to inform what we are talking about the rest of the time, and I’m going to go through them twice. So these are four characteristics of a moral ecology. The first is moral cosmology, moral cosmology. And that means it answers the questions. Who are we, and why are we here. Second characteristic of a moral ecology is moral instruction in some authoritative text. The third is moral imagination. And that refers to the stories we tell. The fourth is cohesive community made up of moral discourse, moral modeling, immoral practices. I’m going to give you those again. And then we’ll move more quickly. So every moral ecology has these four characteristics, a moral cosmology, who are we? Why are we here? Second, moral instruction in some authoritative texts. Third, moral imagination. That’s the stories that get told and fourth cohesive community made up of moral discourse, moral modeling and malpractices.
That may seem kind of esoteric and abstract, but I hope it will make sense when we look at some examples, because we’re really focusing on that third piece, the moral imagination, but I want to talk about how all four pieces fit together and why stories are an important part of this moral ecology. So let’s look at some different examples of moral ecology and how they display these forecasts. futuristics. So let’s talk first about naturalism. Naturalism takes cosmology and answers the question, who are we, by saying, matter is all there is, there’s no supernatural. Just what you see is what exists. Now you might think naturalist don’t have an authoritative text, but really their authoritative text is what we can observe about the natural world. That’s the second feature of the authoritative text is what we can observe about the natural world. As far as the stories they tell, or the moral imagination. Naturalism does tell stories, they tell stories about the Copernican revolution, and how silly humans were to believe the Earth was flat.
And about Darwin observing animals on the Galapagos Island and devising his theory of natural selection. So all these stories help build the ecology where naturalism can thrive. And then finally, the last is cohesive community and for a naturalist that might be a university department, a laboratory, some kind of online community on Reddit, but that’s the place where the morality of a naturalist gets modeled. That’s one moral psychology. Let’s look at a very different one. Let’s talk about Orthodox Judaism. This is a very pervasive moral ecology in the neighborhood where I live. An Orthodox Jew would answer the question, Who are we? By saying we, the Jewish people, are the chosen people of God? The authoritative text for the Orthodox Jew is the Hebrew Scriptures, in rabbinical commentaries.
Now, what’s the moral imagination are the stories that Orthodox Jewish people tell? It’s not actually the Hebrew scriptures, that was the authoritative text, right? The moral imagination is fed by stories of Jewish suffering through the ages, particularly in the Holocaust. And those stories bind people together because the members of this community can imagine a world in which further attempts are made to destroy the Jews, either by genocide or by assimilation. So the Orthodox Jewish moral ecology, resists assimilation and fosters cohesive community. This is the fourth point cohesive community, and they use practices like Sabbath observance to do that. So I hope that example helps you see the place of stories in this moral ecosystem. Okay, what about our own moral ecosystem? Almost all of us here are Protestant Christians. So we look at the cosmology question, who are we? Why are we here, and we say we’re created by God. We are redeemed through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Our authoritative text is the Bible.
Within our moral ecology, you have different smaller ecosystems and different eras that tell different stories. Some of us may have had moral imaginations formed by the left behind books. children growing up in this sort of young restless reformed era may be formed by the Jesus storybook Bible and Andrew Peterson books. My guess is the one set of stories every Protestant Christian circles shares in common is the Chronicles of Narnia. Ark churches and our families are cohesive communities where we teach and model moral practices. So those are three different moral ecologies, I’m going to get one more. And this is probably the most dominant model ecosystem in the Western world, though it’s a bit harder to recognize and define, maybe because we’re all swimming in it. And that is expressive individualism. Expressive individualism has been defined by Yuval Levin, as not only a desire to pursue one’s own path, but a yearning for fulfillment, through the definition, and articulation of one’s own identity. It’s a drive both to be more like whatever you already are, and also to live in a society by fully asserting who you are. So with expressive individualism, you have fulfillment through defining your own identity and becoming more like what you already are.
So what is the authoritative text for expressive individualists? That’s a tricky question. I think it is some combination of your own feelings and your own desires, those feelings become the greatest authority, even though it’s not exactly a text. Nothing can trump what you believe about yourself. And the moral imagination, of expressive individually, individualism is happening through most of what we read and watch, like read a crayon story he he became who he truly was, in the worldview of the author. It’s been said that the worst features of an era are accented in the children’s books of that time. And expressive individualism permeates literature for children and adults that’s being published right now.
But without inspiring fear, my hope today is to help us recognize how stories are shaping our children’s moral imagination. They’re either reinforcing the moral ecology that views human beings made in the image of God, and looks to the Bible for its authoritative text. Or they’re reinforcing some other moral ecology like expressive individualism, where feelings have ultimate authority. And I do want to say that just because something bears the label, Christian doesn’t necessarily mean it will have a good influence on your true children’s moral formation. It may not. Conversely, their stories that don’t bear Christian label that will have a tremendous effect on your children’s moral imagination. Someone might ask the question, Well, shouldn’t the moral of our moral formation of our kids come from the Bible? That’s a good question. And yes, of course it should.
But telling stories to children and teaching them the word of God shouldn’t be in competition. If you think about those four characteristics of moral ecology that we talked about, you’ll see that the second is instruction in authoritative text and the Third is moral imagination, so the Bible’s what’s authoritative. The stories we tell outside the Bible or not. But both stories true and fictional, can help children understand biblical concepts, and they can help us apply and pass down biblical values. In Deuteronomy 647, Moses commanded God’s people to diligently teach God’s commands to their children, when you sit in your house, and when you walk, by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. We shouldn’t restrict our conversations about God’s commands to family devotions.
We should bring them to storytime at the library, on road trips, listening to audiobooks, and when you read aloud before bed, probably if you’re in this workshop, or watching online, this is something you already understand and accept. But it’s possible that you or someone at your church might get nervous when we talk about moral formation and teaching God’s commands because you’re afraid of moralism. So what’s the difference between moral formation? And moralism? Well, if there’s a dirty word in the reformed evangelical world, moralism is it. We rightly contrast moralism with the gospel. moralism is a form of self salvation by which we follow the law and make ourselves worthy of God’s love.
The gospel is the good news that while we were sinners, Christ died for us, pay for our sins, defeated death and will take us to live with Him forever. It teaches that salvation is by faith, through by grace through faith. Nothing we can do can earn God’s love. It’s given on behalf of what Christ has done for us. So when I talk about moral formation, we are not teaching morality for morality sake. I don’t believe we can save society if we could make it more virtuous. Only Jesus can save us, and only he can save our world. We should run from moralism but not from moral formation. Do even understand the difference between moralism and the gospel. You have to understand what sin is. Without some understanding of what’s right and what’s wrong. We wouldn’t know our need for a Savior. Moral formation involves teaching children that they can’t trust their feelings, determine what’s right and wrong, that God has given us his words and his commands to show us what is right.
So is it possible to find stories that teach moralism in a way that will work against good moral formation? Yes, I stumbled across a pretty great description of that kind of story by the beloved and Shirley and Anna Green Gables. It comes when she and Marilla are discussing and story writing club. I think this story writing business is the foolish just yet scoffed Marilla. You’ll get a pack of nonsense into your heads and waste time that should be put on your lessons, reading stories as bad enough but writing them as worse. But we’re so careful to put a moral into them all Marilla explained, and I insist upon that all the good people are rewarded and all the bad ones are suitably punished. I’m sure that must have a wholesome effect.
The moral is the great thing. Well, a story where all the good people are rewarded, and all the bad people suitably punished does not reflect the way the world is. feeding our children’s imagination, with this kind of story is probably going to number one bore them. And number two, make them suspicious of the morals, when they start to recognize that good isn’t always rewarded and bad isn’t always punished. One exception to that, that I’ve just said, is what’s known as the cautionary tale. An example of a cautionary tale is the boy who cried wolf, and another his Little Red Riding Hood or the three little pigs. Pretty much if a story has a wolf in it, it’s a cautionary tale. Although these are stories in which good is rewarded and bad is punished, they do have a valid place in moral formation, particularly around the time when children are learning the actions have consequences. So the boy who cried wolf invites a child to consider what might happen if they tell one lie and then another, it stretches their moral imagination beyond the present where lying seems like the easiest way to get out of trouble. To the future. I may get into greater trouble if I lie.
So there is that time for the cautionary tale and moral formation. But as children get older, they need more than cautionary tales. They need stories with a complexity to show the difference between right and wrong. Then make them long to do what is right and courageous and loving, even though right isn’t always rewarded in this life. To get to that place. We need to get there man nations involved. So why are stories effective for moral formation? Let’s start by considering a story. You all know the story of David and Bathsheba. The prophet Nathan needed to confront David the king about his sins of sexual immorality and murder. There are many ways he could have done this. The most straightforward way would be to quote the 10 commandments Tim and point out he’d broken at least two of them. But instead of taking the straightforward route, he talking David a story that a rich and powerful man killed the pet Lamb of a poor man to feed it to his guests. Nathan’s story of the poor man and the ewe lamb caught David’s imagination.
David had been a shepherd. Perhaps he had had his own favorite lamb, he could imagine what it would feel like to have a treasure possession, ripped away by someone who had more than enough and could never appreciate the value of what was stolen. His imagination engaged his emotions, and the story made David angry. By the time Nathan got to the big reveal, you are the man. David was emotionally invested. He was repulsed by the heinousness of the rich man’s sin, before he realized it was the sin springing from his own heart, and he repented. The account of this confrontation shows how stories can serve God’s purposes by making our hearts feel the way they ought to feel about sin. Because our imaginations engage our emotions, they change our hearts in ways that we aren’t even aware of. Emily Dickinson capture this in one of her poems. Tell all the truth but tell it slant success and circuit lies too bright for our infirmed delight the truths of superb surprise as lightning to the children east with explanation kind, the truth Muscat dazzle gradually, or every man be blind. CS Lewis wrote about how stories like his own Chronicles of Narnia can help children understand the truths of faith on a subconscious level.
He wrote, I saw how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition, which had paralyzed much of my own religion in childhood. Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told, why not feel about God or the sufferings of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to an obligation to feel can freeze feelings. And reverence itself did harm. The whole subject was associated with lowered voices, almost as if it were something medical. But suppose that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained glass and Sunday School Associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency. could one not best steal past these watchful dragons?
I thought one could, and quote, if you asked a 10 year old raised in a Christian home, whether it was a bad thing to deny Christ, he’d likely give the right answer. But if you read to him, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he’d experience Edmonds betrayal of Aslan, followed by his remorse and redemption. The story would expand his moral imagination, so that denying Christ or Atlanta in this case, would seem less abstract. Likewise, if you read the novels of Charles Dickens, you’re likely to develop a healthy fear of going into debt. You could sit down and do math with a teenager or young adult, and he can cognitively understand that living beyond his means is unwise. But if he reads David Copperfield, and watches Mr. Macabre his debt snowball will have an emotional understanding of the dangers of death, he won’t just understand the danger, he’ll feel it. So having an expanded moral imagination doesn’t mean that children or adults will necessarily make the right choice when faced with temptations. But it does mean we’ll have additional evidence to combat the lies of the world, the flesh and the devil. So that’s some of the theoretical background.
Now I want to get more practical and talk about four different ways to use stories in moral formation with children. The first is through reading stories aloud. When my nephew was younger, I would tell him a story and when I got to the end, he would silently mouth the words that I just spoken as if he was telling the story over to him. It was a picture of what all of us do when a story engages our imagination. We turn it over in our minds and our memories after it’s finished. The good thing about reading aloud is that you’ve just shared the experience of a story with a child so you can know and interact with what they are now reliving in there. Imagination. One way of doing this is to ask questions to tease out how the themes of the story might interact with their own life. This makes the read aloud into a sort of a roleplay helping them figure out the right thing to do in a situation before they’re faced with a similar dilemma in real life. Say you’ve just read the emperor’s new clothes. But this is a ridiculous story. Your child is going to face many situations in which it will seem highly embarrassing not to go along with the crowd.
This story gives you an opportunity to talk about why everyone in the crowd pretended the emperor was wearing clothes, and why we should do or say what’s right, even when no one else is. It’s also great to have shared stories kind of in your back pocket that you can reference when questions of character arise naturally in life. Say your family has read. Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss. It’s the story of an elephant who discovers and protects the tiny population of Whoville. It includes the memorable line, a person’s a person, no matter how small. If one day you observe your four year old son mistreating a younger sibling snatching things away from the baby are being rough, be a good time to bring up Horton in the who’s asked him how Horton treated the who’s and why Horton protected them, asked him whether he wants to be like Horton, and how Horton might treat a baby brother. Those are a couple of examples of using picture books for more information.
And picture books are what most people associate with reading aloud because little children can’t read. But I hope you won’t stop reading aloud to your children when they can’t read to themselves. If you do, you’ll lose the shared moral imagination that comes from experiencing a story together. I don’t believe it’s possible to grow out of reading aloud, though as children get older, they may want to do some of the reading to you. It’s a shame if the only stories we experience together are those that we watch through TV. Most nights after dinner, my husband will do the dishes while I read a novel out loud to him. It’s a wonderful shared experience that leads to really good conversations.
Okay, so that was moral formation through reading aloud. A second way is moral formation through made up stories. You may not think of yourself as a storyteller, and it’s hard to make up really good stories. But the good news is, young children are not a very sophisticated audience. In fact, things that would drive older kids crazy or adults crazy little children actually love like repetition and knowing exactly what’s going to come next. When you’re trying to teach a child the right way to behave in a certain situation like meeting a new person for the first time, it can be helpful to roleplay acting out the right way and the wrong way to do something. telling children made up stories helps in the same kind of way and you can tailor the story to what they’re working on. My mother used to tell us made up stories about a very badly behaved character that she called Little Mama.
The drama of the stories came from the bad things that she would do, but little man was one Sterling characteristic was that she always told the truth. These stories were easy to tell because they were formulaic, and my siblings, and I got a thrill imagining the bad things that little mama did. But we also felt reassured we knew she was going to tell the truth about what she’d done. And I don’t know if it was going to these stories or not. But I don’t think any of the three of us ever lied to my mother. So even if you don’t think of yourself as a gifted storyteller, if your children are still small, it’s worth a try. Third, let’s talk about moral formation through imperfect material. As children get older, they’re going to read books that expose them to things you don’t believe in or agree with. caregivers need to constantly pray and seek wisdom and ask God to help them be discerning and what they shelter their children from and what they expose them to. Gladys hunt, the author of honey for a Child’s Heart, argues that some kinds of sheltering can lead to more danger.
She writes about librarian Kimbra Walters Kimbra Wilder Gish, who recounted the story of Sleeping Beauty. Remember, the Witch at beauties birth predicted that she would prick her finger on a spindle when she was 16 and fall asleep forever. Her frightened parents banned every spindle in the kingdom or so they thought. On Beauty 16th birthday she wandered into the attic room of the tower, saw an unfamiliar spindle and curiosity caused her to prick her finger and thus fulfill the witch’s prophecy. How much better would it have been if the King and Queen had warned beauty about the potential danger of spindles in her life and thus avoided her tragedy? Sleeping beauties parents did not do her a service by allowing her to grow up not knowing spindles were a thing.
Like well Although there are books, there are things in books that could be dangerous for our children, that danger may be disarmed by open discussion with children about what they are, what they’re reading. And I’m not just talking about books with sinister messages about gender and sexuality. Growing up, I love the Berenstein Bears. I still love them. I’m talking about the ones from the 80s, not the newer Christian books featuring the Berenstein Bears, which I haven’t read. But my mother would read the Berenstein bear books aloud. But she would point out something about these books to us. And that it was that Papa Bear was made to look not very smart, foolish, even while Mama Bear was the one in charge of the household. My mother recognized this was a common trope in our culture. You see sitcoms with the bumbling idiot dad and the quick witted sarcastic mother.
She still read the books to us. But she also talked about this aspect of the Berenstein Bears, and told us that Mama’s aren’t smarter than daddy’s and God wants us to respect daddies. That was my first experience in learning how to discern subtle messages in what we read. Now, here’s a really benign example about how to form your children through imperfect material. While I was preparing this talk, I read this book, Olivia to my little boy, it’s a good book, you should read this to your children. But there’s a scene where she negotiates with her mom about how many books she’s gonna read. She says, only five books tonight, mommy, your mother says, No, Olivia. Just one. How about four to three? Oh, all right, three. But that’s it. Now it’s funny because it’s very true to life. But when you come across something like this, which shows the opposite of the behavior you want to teach your child, you can start a conversation. Sally does mama let you argue with her when you want more books, why not. So that’s just one place to reinforce the things that you want to teach your children rather than have them pick up what’s modeled in the book, you can use what’s modeled in the book, and teach them to do the opposite.
One last example about using imperfect material for moral formation. Before they become parents, many people declare their children aren’t going to have anything to do with Disney Princess culture. That’s easier said than done. But even if you can’t avoid Princess culture, you can have a running dialogue about what messages are true and false in Princess stories. You can be active rather than passive about how your children are processing the princess messages. And there’s some good messages there too. You just needed to sift through them. so forth. And finally, let’s talk about moral formation through really good stories. We’ve talked about how the best stories make us feel the way we ought to feel about right and wrong. But how do we find these stories, you have to be proactive to get great stories into the hands of your kids. If you leave it to them, they’ll grab off the shelf, whatever sparkly in the eyes of a child. And most of us don’t have unlimited family book budgets.
But we have access to a library system. And we can request a whole list of book books at a time. We can even do ebooks and audio books through the library systems. There are lots of great reading lists on the internet that can fuel your library request list. One is available on TGC website. The title is a complete classical school reading lists grades one to eight. But if you just Google classical school reading list, it will come up and that gives you lots of age appropriate books that are high quality literature that will lead to this kind of discussion. But also recommend two books about books that have book lists. The first I mentioned that quoted from honey from honey for a child’s heart by Gladys hunt that has book lists by age and type of book. And then books children love by Elizabeth Wilson is a whole book of book lists. So these you can take them you can request them from the library. They may take weeks or months to come to your library, but they’ll come eventually and you can keep your children stocked with great stories to form their moral imagination.
But don’t neglect biographies, even if you aren’t homeschooling and using them as part of an educational curriculum. When I was growing up, my church encouraged everyone to read a Christian biography during the month of February, which was the month when our church had our missions conference. Corrie 10 Boom’s the hiding place is an example of a book that can be read by teens and will forever alter their moral imagination. Most Christian teens may not have truly considered what God could call them, that God could call them to do something dangerous, something hard, and that he would even allow them to suffer for it. Good biographies are an excellent way to help children think through the kinds of moral choices real people face. In conclusion, our children aren’t the only ones in need of moral formation or they, we need to be morally formed.
The stories we read to our children can work on our hearts, as well as theirs, when I wrote are low in the great big cover up. One of my prayers for this book was that if any parent is reading this to his or her child and was caught up in pornography, that the story would lead them to confess their sin to someone to recognize that cleaned up is much better than cover up, covered up. And then the past few years, there been some terrible Christians, scandals and Christian organizations. These scandals don’t these scandals usually start with one person sin, then the damage gets magnified as organizations try to cover it up. That’s a natural tendency. Our children have to be taught not to hide their disobedience from their parents or from God. And we adults have to be taught again and again, that believing the Gospel means bringing our sin into the light. For Christian parents, the goal of moral formation should not be for your children to behave perfectly. The goal is not for them to mistakenly believe that you behave perfectly.
We want them to learn right from wrong. We want them to see the beauty of what is good and true and the folly of what goes against God’s ways. We want them to see examples of kindness and examples of repentance. We want our hearts to feel the way they ought to about sin. So read your children, read widely, make up stories, and let the truth capture their heart and yours for the glory of God. Let’s pray together. Father, thank you for making a world with stories in it for giving us the ability to read, to listen to books read, and to understand your word and your truth better through them. Help us to be diligent in doing that. Help us to be creative. And we pray that children would grow up not believing that they can save themselves by learning how to behave, but that they’ll learn the difference and right and wrong to know their need for a Savior and know their need how know their way to walk in righteousness. We ask this through Jesus name, Amen.