Kids do this annoying thing: they grow up. It’s rude. I’ve joked with my five-year-old son that I’m going to stop feeding him so he’ll stop growing. His response? “So you want me to die?” Um, well, no. No, I don’t. But his practical response has such truth. What stops growing is in the process of dying. And of course, I want my children to grow—physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Many of us who are trying our best to parent our children intentionally think about what we want to instill in them. Some of it is obvious: independence, good decision-making ability, kindness, integrity, a strong sense of self. But as my daughters are about a third of their way through fourth and sixth grade, we’ve been talking about their goals for the year, and I realize I don’t have it all figured out. They’ll become adults, and I’ll wish I’d emphasized or taught them something else. That said, I want to share three things my husband and I do to help mold our kids into the adults we pray they’ll become.
We write things down. This is hard, I know. But I have some tricks. I post all my cute kid stories on Facebook, and using the IFTTT app, they all end up in a Google sheet for me. A couple of times a year (okay, sometimes just once a year,) my husband and I write in journals we started for them when they were babies. We tell them about major events in our family from that year, but mostly we tell them about who they are and what they’re like. I also transfer the stories from the Google sheet into their journals. We’ll give the journals to them someday, at their weddings or on a birthday. Sometimes we read to them out of their journals, and they love it. Let me encourage you: even if your kids are older, it’s never too late to start writing things down.
We infuse our daily lives with the gospel. I’ve written about this before, but our kids don’t go through any situation where the gospel cannot be applied. Yes, we’re still learning, and we forget often. But, for example, if a child is having trouble with a friend, we talk about what might be causing the friend to be unkind and how we can pray for them. We discuss the right time to shake the dust off versus the right time to keep on loving, and we regularly talk about who God is, what he has done, and who they are. That leads to how they behave in situations. We don’t expect perfection; that’s what grace is for. But we talk about forgiveness, prayer, and how to see Christ in everyday life.
We talk to them about what God is teaching us. Right now, God is teaching me about friendship and its importance. When I spoke with my girls about their goals for this year, I realized my eldest had only one real school friend. We prayed and talked about making other friends and how to make sure she’s communicating care and interest in other girls. A week or so after school started, she came to me with a story about how she mended fences with a girl who had been unkind last year. She experienced God directly answering a prayer.
God promises that if we train up a child in the way he should go, when he is older he will not depart from it. What we lovingly pour into our kids will eventually produce fruit. Sometimes that effort may include a lot of prayer and patience to get there. I’ve shared before that our family is planting a church. This means our kids have never met a stranger. Most of the time I love this about them, and then I pray over the rest of the time!
With our youngest two today, we drove to the top of Mount Evans. A man who had hiked to the top, leaving his car several thousand feet below, was hoping to hitchhike back down. We opted to pick him up, and as we chatted, our kids asked him questions and were engaging. As he got ready to get out, they both said, “It was really great to meet you!” That was a proud momma moment for me, proof that all we pour into them does come out. Just like what we allow our Father to pour into us comes out of us.
Amy Wiebe is a Jesus follower, wife, mom of three, church planter, finance director, and lover of sarcasm and deep conversation with friends. She also loves camping, rafting, skiing, sewing, and having people over. Amy blogs with her husband at fringechurch.com.