I haven’t written much about parenting lately.
I think it’s because the teen years are a whole different ballgame. It’s easy to overshare and include stories my daughters may not want out in the public arena. I need to respect their privacy.
And if any phase has revealed how inadequate I am as a parent, it has to be these teen years! There are many wonderful parts of having teenagers – really, there are!! But, especially as they move further into the teen years, there’s an ongoing struggle between giving them independence while still monitoring what’s happening in their lives. Letting go is a process that takes time and work as you shift your relationship with your child from one of authority to one of influence.
Recently I was looking back over some of the goals I had written out for our girls when they were younger. I like having goals as a mom because they make me evaluate what I really want to aim for as I parent. They also give me a greater purpose as I look toward the future when it’s so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day routine.
I realized that these goals are still applicable, so I’m sharing them here today. I’m certainly not doing this parenting thing perfectly, but it was good to review the long-term vision for the impact we can have in their lives. Maybe this list will encourage you to develop some of your own goals as you raise your children.
Spiritual Goals for Our Children
The spiritual “first step” is having our children make the decision to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Praise the Lord, as best I can tell, both of our girls have done this. However, should they ever have doubts, I want to take those seriously and make sure they have assurance in their own hearts that they are saved.
2. Live in God’s will for their lives.
I hope I’m always open to letting God lead our girls where ever He wills. My part is to encourage them to pursue their interests and follow the path God has for their lives. May I never allow the plans that I think would be good for them to supersede what God may be doing in their lives.
3. Actively serve God and others.
Whatever their life’s calling, I hope that our daughters serve God in their local church. The very best use of their God-given talents would be using them to encourage other believers and reach out to the unsaved.
Emotional Goals for Our Children
I hesitate to use the word self-esteem, but the idea here is that they are confident in their abilities and believe that, with God’s help, they can accomplish whatever task is set before them. I believe they can maintain a spirit of humility while still reaching for their dreams.
This one is certainly a life-long struggle, but being able to control your emotions is an important part of maturing in Christ.
My goal here would be for them to experience Christ’s joy throughout their lives, regardless of circumstances.
Mental/Intellectual Goals for Our Children
1. Have our girls always be reading and learning new things.
I want to do this right alongside them – be a lifelong learner! Whether it’s by reading a book, watching a video or taking a class, there’s always a new skill to be learned.
2. Be financially savvy.
We’ve trained our girls to divide their allowance (and any other money they receive) into the categories of giving, saving, and spending. Our older daughter now has a budget and knows how to balance her checkbook. We want them to learn how to handle money wisely while they’re still under our roof.
3, Develop an appreciation for good music and quality entertainment.
We’ve always enjoyed take our girls to plays and concerts. Exposing them to fine arts and quality productions will hopefully enrich their lives and cause them to choose good entertainment as they get older.
Physical Goals for Our Children
1. Teach my daughters how to properly care for their bodies..
This would include knowing how to eat healthily, and get enough exercise and sufficient sleep.
2. Know how to run a household, including cooking, cleaning and basic maintenance.
They’re learning to wash and iron their own clothes, fix meals, and clean up after themselves. We also want to train them to make wise purchases, whether it’s selecting furniture or buying a new car.
3. Help them to develop their physical abilities.
Work with them to develop whatever physical abilities they have, including playing musical instruments, athletics, and fine arts
Here are some practical ways I’ve tried to work toward these goals with our children over the years.
- Talk frequently about salvation. Read biographies and other devotional stories that involve someone coming to Christ, and that explain the plan of salvation.
- Create an environment that makes it comfortable to talk about spiritual things. Discuss what they’re learning in Sunday School, children’s church, youth group, or in the other services at church.
- Expose them to preaching that gives the gospel and encourages them to follow God’s Word.
- Have them help me when I serve others. They can work with me in the nursery or children’s church, play an offertory on the piano, and help make a meal for someone who’s sick.
- Help them find activities in which they can excel, and provide opportunities for them to flourish. Be an enthusiastic supporter and cheerleader at their games, concerts, etc.
- When one of the girls comes to me with a problem, remembering to pray about it with them as a first resort, not a last. Some months ago, one daughter was talking to me about a difficulty she was having with a friend. We were riding along in the car and I was waxing eloquent about the best way to deal with the issue, when my other daughter piped up, “Why don’t you just pray about it?” I was convicted!! That should have been my first response as well!
- Create an attitude of gratitude in our home. It’s easier to live in joy when we notice all that we have and purposefully give thanks for it.
- Invest time and money into character-building books, activities, and entertainment.
You may choose different goals than these, but I do think it’s helpful to see exactly where we want to go with our parenting. We’ve been given such a great responsibility to steward these gifts from God.
I’d love to hear any ideas you have as you set some goals for your parenting!