By Anne King
Have you been on a road trip recently? Road trips are all about finding your destination. You get in the car with the end in mind. Of course, there’s fun along the way, but in the end, it’s all about where you are headed. And it is also why it’s not long before someone asks, “Are we there yet?” We start with the end in mind.
Really, the same holds true in parenting our children.
I have quite a gap in age between my kids – 23, 21, and …. 8. Yes, we started over. But one advantage I now have with my youngest daughter is perspective. I understand the end game.
Over the years, I’ve learned that parenting is more about the long haul than what is easy or convenient now. In fact, we aren’t just raising kids; we are actually raising adults. So, here are some long-haul perspectives I’ve found helpful in parenting our kids toward adulthood.
HAVE A VISION
Think, pray & talk to your spouse about what characteristics are important for you to help shape in your child. Getting a vision will help you know where you are headed. I’ve found it helps to actually put these on paper.
HAVE A PLAN
Make a plan that will help develop some of those traits in your child. The best format for this starts with you. If you want your child to be able to admit when they are wrong and take responsibility, model that behavior by apologizing and admitting when you’ve made a mistake. If you want them to develop self-discipline, don’t allow them to do whatever they want with their time – help them manage it. If you want them to be responsible for a home one day, give them appropriate chores along the way.
And if you want them to develop a faith rhythm, practice that in your own home by attending a church service each week, together. Get a calendar and schedule out those moments and stick to them.
Be sure to affirm these traits and disciplines in others, and when your children display them make a point to let them know you noticed & are proud of who they are becoming.
HAVE A HEART
Patience, kindness, and grace go a long way. There’s no formula or timeline for character development. And there are no guarantees. You may do all the right things & still have a child who makes terrible decisions. We all make our own way. And there’s a great story in the Bible about a young man who will encourage your heart if you are going through a rough patch with a child. You can check it out along with some helpful parenting tools HERE.
Developing these traits takes time and practice and will include some hard days. But don’t lose heart. Long haul parenting is a labor of love and a beautiful picture of God’s love and grace towards us.