Parenting with the End in Mind – Part 1
I have twin boys. At the time of this writing, my boys are 4 years old, and growing up more every day. It’s moving too fast! Many times I’ve heard the saying, “The days are long but the years are short,” and it’s true. There are days where we can’t get to nap time quickly enough just so mom and dad can have a break! It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day details. But I can’t believe how fast the years have gone by. If I’m not careful, I can get lost in the daily details, and lose sight of the end goal.
I want to parent with the end in mind. My mom has often said about her parenting, “I didn’t care about raising happy kids, but good adults.” I’ve always hoped the two could work together, but sometimes they are mutually exclusive. My kid’s current happiness is sometimes at odds with them becoming good people.
In this three part blog series, I want to share three things we need in order to parent with the end in mind.
1. VisionAt home, we have two vases filled with marbles. Each marble represents one week of each boy’s life, from birth until they graduate high school. Every so often, we remove marbles to reflect how much time we have left to shape our boy’s lives. There aren’t nearly enough marbles left in the vases. It’s a visual reminder of the time we have to shape and influence Wyatt and Levi.
Parenting with the end in mind gives me vision for who I want my boys to become, and it influences the hundreds of little decisions I make each day. “No, you can’t have a third cookie,” because I want you to develop healthy eating habits unlike your dad. “You will not speak to your mother that way,” because I want you to honor authority and respect women. “We don’t use that language,” because I want you to be kind, respectful young men. The little decisions, the corrections, the discipline, the talks we have, aren’t just about the issue at hand but about the vision I have for who my boys can be.
So it’s worth it to say “no.” It’s worth it to address the “little things.” It’s worth it to confront bad attitudes and to teach new behaviors. Because if my boys can learn to respect and honor their parents, they will respect and honor their teachers, coaches, and future employers. If they can learn to love and be kind to their friends, they’ll always have friends, they’ll reject friends that might be negative influences, and they’ll someday choose to date and marry girls who also have strong values.
Church is a priority for our family every week, because I want my boys to know Jesus, learn how to follow Him, and be surrounded by a community of people who will model Christlikeness for them. I want them to follow Jesus for the rest of their lives. So this Sunday, we will get them dressed, get them fed, and if necessary, fight to get them out of the house and to church. These days, the boys love coming to church and most weeks there’s more excitement than fight, but it won’t always be that way, so this week we will build the habits that will instill value in them for the days when they might not be as excited.
It’s worth it to put in the work now, because of the vision I have for who they will become. It’s a lot of work, but not nearly as difficult as trying to break bad habits later.
No matter where you’re at as a parent, it’s not too late to make adjustments and parent with a vision of who you want your child to become.
Jenny and I were married for 15 years before having kids, so when Levi and Wyatt came into our lives, we were so excited to be parents. They were our miraculous answer to prayer. And we spoiled them like crazy. And it wasn’t just us! Grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends all were happy to share in our joy. We moved into a larger house and made a ridiculous playroom for the boys and quickly filled it with stuff. Our house looked like a day care center!
But recently, our boys have been misbehaving. They’ve been outright defiant. We’ve tried bribery, reasoning, punishment, rewards, everything you can think of, and nothing was working. They have continued to deliberately disobey and disrespect. I have been at the end of my rope as I was no longer getting through to them.
So after a particularly rough day, and multiple moments where I was not at my finest, I had enough. I decided to make a change. I put the boys to bed and then we went to work in their playroom. We packed up every toy, anything that even looked like a toy and removed it all from the house. It took a lot of work, but we did it.
Over the coming weeks, Jenny and I will be getting rid of at least half of the stuff for good. The other half, the boys can earn back, one toy at a time as they learn to listen, respect, and obey.
It’s never too late to make adjustments to your parenting strategy. We are making a parenting adjustment because my boys’ happiness today is not worth them becoming terrible people in the future.
I have a vision for the men I want my boys to become. It’s determining my decisions as a parent today. I don’t always get it right. I don’t always keep the end in mind as much as I should. But when my vision for them leads the way, my parenting today changes.
So who do you want your kids to become? What type of people do you wan them to be? What values do you want them to carry? Are you parenting with that vision in mind? Are the choices you’re making today going to produce the adult you want your kid to be in the future?
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.