Writer’s Desk with Kathy Koch, PhD
Dr. Kathy Koch (“cook”) is the Founder of Celebrate Kids. She has influenced thousands of parents, teachers, and children in over 25 countries through keynote messages, seminars, chapels, and other events. She regularly speaks for Care Net, Summit Ministries, the Colson Center, and Teach Them Diligently. Kirk Cameron chose her as an expert in two recent documentaries and she is also a popular guest on Focus on the Family radio and other radio talk shows and podcasts. She has her own podcasts: Celebrate Kids with Dr. Kathy, Dr. Kathy Says, and Facing the Dark. She is the author of seven books published by Moody Publishers. Dr. Kathy earned a PhD in reading and educational psychology from Purdue University and served as an associate professor, school board member, teacher, and coach all before founding her ministry. She has loved Jesus for years and her faith and desire to serve and glorify God is the foundation of her ministry.
More about Parent Differently
Most parents misguidedly prioritize behavior. The why and how to instill character.
Behavior modification does not guarantee good character qualities. Character influences decisions. It’s evidenced in our speech, actions, and attitudes. It’s about who we are and what we do. The world competes for the hearts of our kids—and we see its negative impact in their pride, laziness, and entitlement. As Christians, however, we want to see the character of Jesus Christ in our children. Dads and moms, grandparents, and teachers all want to see their children grow in humility, gratitude, and respect—for others and themselves. We want our kids to be brave, compassionate, and joyful. We don’t want our kids to flounder through life. We want them to flourish and live into their God-given designs and callings. Dr. Kathy Koch helps us to that end by answering essential questions:
- What is character and why does it matter?
- Why is there a crisis of character?
- What are the challenges in developing character?
- How can we teach or improve character?
Not only does character help us accomplish our goals, but there are many other benefits of mature character: we will be blessed, stand out for Jesus, attract good friends, grow in wisdom, and live in freedom.
Koch provides an invaluable resource for shepherding our children in godly character.
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Q&A with Kathy Koch, PhD
TG: Everyone always asks for an interesting fact, we’re going to flip the question. What is one boring fact about yourself?
KK: I eat my bacon cheeseburgers plain and dry.
TG: Why did you write Parent Differently: Raise Kids with Biblical Character that Changes Culture?
KK: Many parents are frustrated by their children’s disobedience, but yelling and telling them to “stop arguing!” (for example) doesn’t work. Children deserve to be taught how to have good character so they can then be obedient. I believe biblical character is the key to joy, peace, obedience, and so much more. It’s more complete than Christlike character and can result in a heart change so obedience is not rote rule-following. I also want children to realize they can change culture now by making wise choices based on their character. They don’t have to wait to grow up; they can be used by God now.
TG: Did you have any surprises or learning moments while writing this title?
KK: Too many to mention! The Holy Spirit is always very active when I write. One that I was very grateful for is the insight that character qualities are connected. As an example, we’re more likely to be patient when we’re other-centered, compassionate, and flexible. When we teach qualities together children may more successfully learn and apply them.
TG: What do you hope readers take away from your book?
KK: I hope that their children can improve their character and behavior, motivation to apply my ideas, and success when they do. The Bible is full of much that we can use to instill biblical character in our children, and I want readers to understand stressing character is much more valuable than emphasizing obedience. Also, for readers to realize teaching some qualities are more valuable than teaching others.
TG: Do you have any habits or rituals as a writer?
KK: Not really. I’ve had to learn to be very flexible because of my busyness. I feel like rituals may slow me down.
TG: What habits would you encourage others to take up to be a more productive writer?
KK: Write when you can. Don’t wait for the mood, environment, or anything else to be perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist! Do what works for you and not what others say works for them.
TG: What do you snack on or drink while writing?
KK: Peanut M&Ms, popcorn, ice cream, water, Diet Coke, and homemade hot chocolate in the winter.
TG: How do you overcome writer’s block?
KK: I look through notes I’ve made relevant to the section I’m trying to write. I may read what others have written on the topic. I write with pen and pretty paper. It helps me to “just write” and not edit too soon. Then I’ll edit with the pen and type the section into my computer.
TG: Are you an “edit-as-you-go” writer or do you wait until the very end before you do any editing?
KK: Both. I edit as I write, sometimes more than I probably should, but it works for me. When I think a chapter is nearly complete, I read it out loud to hear inconsistencies, redundancies, incomplete or confusing ideas, grammar issues, and more. I make sure I have enough adjectives and vivid verbs. Because I’m not very picture-smart, I don’t see pictures in my mind as I write, but I want my readers to see action as they read so I make sure to use the right words. Because I’ve written 6 other parenting books and there are certain messages I want to remind my readers of, I edit to make sure I’ve included them uniquely. For example, this includes information about change, the 5 core needs, and the 8 smarts. I sometimes plan in advance where I’ll include these content areas, but I don’t always.
I color-code sentences/paragraphs to make sure that I engage people’s entire minds as they read. I usually use colors for Scripture/spiritual insights, my stories, other illustrations, and instruction. I sometimes do it for just thinking vs. feeling sections. And then when I think the book is about finished, I edit carefully for words in the title. For example, for this book, I searched for the words “differently” and “culture” and added them when I saw sections where I hadn’t used them so they’re used throughout the entire book.
TG: What would you say is the most common mistake new writers make?
KK: Being too critical and, therefore, thinking they haven’t written anything well. Quitting is now easy. Also, I think some set unrealistic expectations for how much they can write in a day. When they never seem to do enough, they will also be tempted to quit.
TG: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
KK: Writing a book is like writing anything else. You do it word by word. Even though there are many books, your book will be unique so write it. If God has told you to write, you must write. We must steward what God has taught us.
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