We don’t have long to raise our kids. In my experience, most of my actual hours with my kids were before they were ten or eleven. They are increasingly out in the world and involved in after- school activities as they get older. So it makes sense to decide what’s important to do with our kids, and what to teach them, as early in their lives as possible.
I’m so grateful now for every hour I had with them. I don’t regret not earning more money, I do regret the times my own anxieties and preoccupations kept me from being more in-the-moment with them, more playful. I don’t regret putting my career on the back burner, I do regret sometimes being so task-oriented at home that I didn’t take more time to be alone with each child.
This series of ten posts on what I’m glad we did for them has only scratched the surface, but I hope the posts can help parents think through what matters and how they want to work that into their family life. It’s good to ask ourselves questions like:
- What world-view do I want my kids to have and what institutions will help me in forming that?
- What educational setting is right for my child?
- What books do I want to make sure I have read to them, or they read to themselves?
- What vacation and service experiences do I want them to have?
- What kind of relationships do I want them to have with their parents and with each other?
- What kind of relationships do I want them to have with extended family?
- What pace of life is right for us, and how do we protect ourselves from too much activity outside our home, or not enough involvement outside our home?
- What kind of habits do we need to practice to protect their health – physical, emotional and spiritual?
- What family patterns have come down to us from previous generations that we want to continue, and which ones will we need help breaking?
- What destructive forces threaten us, and how do we fight them?
It’s such a joy to see our grown kids thrive, such a heartbreak when they don’t. I know people who were very intentional about how they raised their kids, yet their children are not doing well, not thriving or happy.
Parents can’t take the whole rap for that. There are aspects of our culture that are hostile to family life, and our kids make their own choices. There aren’t any guarantees in this parenting business. But keeping the end in mind – that time when they leave home for good – can help us make the most of each precious day.