How Am I Shaping My Child’s Future?
I think anyone who has a child can agree that parenting is the hardest job on earth. From the moment my kids were born, I have felt the enormity of the responsibility I have to keep them safe, teach them right from wrong, help them develop their faith, and guide them into finding their way in the world. How can I possibly accomplish all of that and raise self-confident, generous, productive, loving human beings? I don’t know yet if I can, but these are the things I consider as I try.
First, it takes a village, as they say. My family members have always been involved in my children’s lives. They encourage my children by taking an interest in their lives and activities, coming to their games and concerts, sharing with them the traditions of our family, and modeling their own faith as well as the heritage of faith our family is blessed to have. My friends, my friends’ children, and the friends my kids have selected, all have a part in shaping them. Once they started school, their teachers, their peers, and their teammates began to influence my kids as well. Finally, our church family has nurtured and loved my kids from the time they were newborn babies. They have rejoiced with my kids through their successes and prayed for them through their struggles. The people who are involved in my kids day to day lives all have an impact on who they will be, so my village and their villages needs to be full of people we can admire and respect.
Second, am I providing the influence I should to help them become the people I want them to be? The words I say, the choices I make, the priorities I set for my own life; all of these things are being witnessed and absorbed by my children. How do I respond when someone cuts me off in traffic, when a loved one dies, or when someone betrays me? How do I cope when I am sick or sleep-deprived or overwhelmed by stress? Everything I say and do shapes who my children will be. Does this mean I have to be perfect to raise good children? I hope not! My children certainly know I am far from perfect, but I hope that when I make mistakes or react in a different way than I should, I will remember to apologize and tell them how I could have handled the situation better.
Third, do I require of them things that will matter in the long run? Do I overlook a messy room if they spent the time they should have been cleaning it talking to a friend who’s having a rough day? Do I require them to be respectful as I have taught them? Do I encourage them to be kind? I want them to make good grades, play well on their sports teams, and have a fun, memorable childhood, but am I teaching them to set and keep the right priorities? James 4:14 says “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (ESV). My ultimate job as a parent is to mold and shape myself and my children to look like Christ. I want to be the best sculptor I can be so that when the blip of my children’s lives here is over, they will have an eternity of peace, joy, and love in Heaven.