Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6, NIV
There was a book that was quite popular at the time Tara was born. I received a copy of Training Up a Child by Gwendolyn Webb as a gift at the baby shower. One of the assignments given in the book was to write a report of “what you want your child to be when a teenager” (Webb 29). After each child was born, I wrote a letter of what kind of person I wanted her/him to be at age eighteen. By so doing, I gave my subconscious mind a picture, a map if you will, of where we were headed.
Stephen Covey in his groundbreaking book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, listed as Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind. Covey went on to say, “We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind” (98).
We need to interact with our children with one eye on the child as they are in the present, and one eye on what kind of person we want them to be at age eighteen. Lucius Annaeus Seneca stated, “If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind.” What this means to us is, if we do not know what type of people we want our children to be when grown, then any way is the correct way to parent.
However, I am certain that those of you reading this h ave a definite idea of the kind of people with which you want to bless the world. So I would encourage you to carve out a moment of time to get clear in your mind that video clip of what type of person you want each child to be once grown. How do you see them behaving? Are they God-followers or no? Polite? Thoughtful? Conscientious? Hard-working? What type of husband/wife will they be? Write it down. It does not matter if you write it in your journal or as a letter to each child, as long as you get it in writing. It would be good to keep your written ideals nearby, so that you can refer to them from time to time to see if you are on target, or if there is some adjusting that needs to take place, but even if you don’t refer to them, the writing down is powerful. There have been times in life when I have made a list of goals, then gotten busy or distracted and forgotten even having written the goals down. I happened to run across the list of goals some time later, only to discover that I had accomplished many of the goals on the list.
So that is what I would leave with you this time:
- See a clear video clip in your mind of what you want your child(ren) to be when grown.
- Write down a description for each child.
- If you can keep up with where you put it, refer to the list from time to time. Don’t be afraid to edit the list when needed.
- Keep your mind’s eye on the goal even as you interact with and enjoy your children in the present.
- As always, spend quiet time with God regularly, covering everything in prayer.
Covey, Stephen. The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1989.
Webb, Gwendolyn. Training up a child. Denver, CO: The Old Landmarks Foundation, 1977.
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