Parents and teenagers gathered around the pool, balancing plates of hamburgers and desserts, over napkins in school colors. The graduates splashing and playing looked a lot like the little boys of ten years earlier. My oldest teen congratulated her friends, her own high school graduation still a year away. It was just a glimpse of what was to come, a glimpse I imagined long ago while pushing her stroller draped with a diaper bag in nursery colors. The decisions we made while she was still buckled in have determined where she is now. It’s the glimpse of graduation, while still distant, that matters most in setting goals for our children.
Graduation day is not the day to decide what goals will steer our parenting. While our children are still small, we have to look ahead to who we want them to become.
It isn’t easy to look ahead to caps and gowns and young adulthood while juggling sippy cups and checking out easy readers, but a wise mom lifts her gaze to the future to know how to do the little years. We want to be encouraged by the words of Proverbs 22:6, urging us to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it,” but we wrestle with the final phrase. What about kids who had great parents but still stray? What about the prodigals? What about the rule breakers? A mom can be so anxious about prodigal potential that she misses the details in the directive about how to “train.” Stephanie Shott knows how to encourage moms in Praying Prodigals Home. Let’s bravely glimpse our child’s future and determine our goals for “the way he should go.” The first years are the best years to determine goals we hold for our children.
Questions for goal setting
- What kind of adult do you want to raise?
- What qualities are most important in the character of your children?
- How do you want your child to contribute to the world?
- Where do you want your child to look for direction?
- Describe the graduate you want to celebrate one day.
Now that you have a glimpse of what’s to come and where you want to go, set goals to go there. Figure out “the way he should go,” and take steps to go in that direction. Write down basic objectives to pursue in nurturing your child before they “graduate” from childhood. Knowing your goals will help you make decisions about balancing your child’s schedule, choosing extra curricular activities, nurturing friendships, and crafting your home environment.
From the beginning of a child’s life, or as early as you glimpse the future, determine your goals. Don’t let anything sway you! Hold on to those goals like you held on to the last Let’s Rock Elmo last Christmas! Little splashing boys grow up into young men, but a mother who looks to the future can steer her child’s first steps and help them in the way they should go.
And if you’re a mother grieving the path her child has taken, never give up “training” through prayer and encouragement and modeling. Re-define your goals for this season, and then hold on like you held on to the Rescue Heroes back when your guy was a little guy. Our children will always be our children, and though it changes with the seasons, a mother’s influence never ends.
~ What’s one goal you have NOW for the person your child will grow to be in the FUTURE?