When I was new in my faith, the mother of a young, strong-willed boy, I despaired when I saw behaviors that alarmed me, and wondered what to do. Adamantly refusing to say, “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you…” bonking his friend with the toy…demanding “I lead YOU, Mommy!” and refusing my authority as parent…would this lead him far from God? Would he grow up and become a drug dealer or a convicted felon?! So I set about to do what I thought would work:
I would nag.
I would guilt.
I would plead.
I would negotiate.
I would read Dobson.
I would get angry.
I would eventually give up.
And then I would find something new to focus on and start all over again. (Anyone else feel me here?) It was an endless, defeating cycle.
I thought to myself, How can I be intentional about incrementally training a child for long-term success? Then God reminded me of something from my time in corporate sales, recruiting, and the military – a better way – consisting of a single Long Term Goal comprised of smaller, bite-sized Training Objectives.
Cuz, everyone needs targeted, doable steps to take to get from point Α to Ω, right?
1. What’s The Long Term Goal?
What’s the end goal for your child, the finish line? When all is said and done, what is it you MOST want for their lives?
For both children, our Long Term Goal is this:
“To live to glorify Jesus Christ, to happily submit to and serve His Kingdom, and live for all eternity in His Glorious Presence.”
2. Establish Training Objectives.
Once you have the overarching theme, you can then assess where your child is based on that finish line, and take steps moving him toward it. When we identify what our child is missing, perhaps a glaring blemish in character, and we take steps to put words to it. (Check out “52 Traits” listed here in getconnectdad.com to get you started!)
We have three short-term training objectives that we post for a few months or however long they need to learn them. These are always backed by Scripture. The LTG is always posted, too, as a reminder of ultimate finish line.
For my tween daughter a few years ago, her objectives were Thankfulness, Trustworthiness and Blamelessness.
- Be thankful.
- Do what you say you are going to do.
- Always tell the truth.
Ahh, praise God for the straightforward, black-and-white objectives of youth!
For my teenaged son, we identified Purity, Anger, and Words he used to express himself.
High school, social media, music, Hollywood movies and our American culture make for a tough environment for God-fearing teens. The strains and pulls of secularity are harsh. (Don’t even get me started talking about their hormones!)
I posted these lessons on the landing windows in our old house with liquid chalk markers in a private space that guests couldn’t see and explained them to each child individually. (We now scribe them on the windows in their rooms in the new house.) And when times are really tough, I am not above posting them on mirrors, in bathrooms; hiding Scripture under beds, in closets, under carseats; Sharpie-penning them on walls or floors before we paint or carpet!
There are follow-up convos, asking how they think they are doing. When we need to discipline, we come back to these objectives and go over the Scripture verses. (And I’m happy to report that we have moved on from these training objectives from a few years ago to OTHER training objectives now!)
It’s not to shame—it’s to train.
(After all, we love these children dearly!)
They see their objectives every day. When they’re new, they recite the verses out loud. My hope is that it helps them focus in the right direction—upward! And we give only three. That’s doable and not overwhelming!
Why do we do it?
We love these kids too much not to train them. We love them too much to be idle. More than that, though, we love God too much to dishonor Him and neglect the gifts He’s entrusted to us.
Children = Gifts of God
We can’t forget that our kids are gifts, our legacies to the world. Being the most important job on the planet, we cannot afford to be lazy or passive. When we have gone to be with Jesus, our children are all that is left of us on the earth. Their choices, the future of the Church and this world, are shaped by our work as parents. Let’s point them in the right direction and train them up in the way they should go!
Do you have best practices for putting “Jesus in Everything”, especially Raising Kids? Drop me an email or post in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Other posts in this series: Scriptures4Students, Dressed4School, next week’s Resources4Parents, Christian Parenting by Allison Harris, Parenting Teenagers by Allison Harris, and School Supply by Jake Greving.