Our yearly extended family trip to Bear Lake was this past week. As I sat on the beach and nursed my twin babies (because that is 90% of my life right now), I watched my adult siblings interact with each other and with my children. I started thinking about Month 2 of KinderKronicle. A large part of that issue is about picturing what your goals are for your children and what traits you hope they possess as adults.
Taking the long view
Maybe it was the deep brilliant-blue waters, or the tranquility of this mile-high lake, but I found myself thinking about my family long- term. In the trenches of early parenthood, most parents don’t think about the fact that they will know their children as adults for much longer than they will know them as children.
I had my first son at age 24. I will be 42 when he reaches adulthood. If I live to be 100, that is 58 years of having a relationship with my adult child and only 18 years of having a relationship with him as an actual child.
While agency and personality definitely come into play, there is plenty of research teaching us how to increase the odds of raising a child to become a responsible, successful adult.
KinderKronicle wades through a lot of that research and presents it concisely in their monthly articles. The time we spend teaching and helping our children learn valuable life skills and lessons when they are young will have life-long effects, so it is important to look to the future as we make parenting choices now.
Creating a family mission statement as a guide
My husband and I have discussed many traits we hope to instill in our children. After one such conversation, we came up with a family mission statement to guide our parenting goals:
Call Family Mission Statement
I am a Call.
I am grateful, honest, kind, helpful, determined, and true.
I like to do hard things.
I love to learn.
I help my family be the best they can be.
God and my family come first.
I know God loves me, no matter what, and I love Him.
As parents, we know where we want to go, but how are we planning on getting there? Allow me to share with you some of our goals and plans we’ve made in hopes that our family mission statement can be realized. Please note
that these are our goals—we often fall short.
Our family goals
Here are a few ways we are trying to implement our family goals and plans. We are constantly reassessing and adjusting, but our goals are our starting point.
- Show love, put in the time, be intentional: First of all, we decided early on that we want to be authoritative parents. As KinderKronicle Month 1 explains, “Studies show that children reared by authoritative parents grow up to be the
healthiest, happiest, and most successful.” Authoritative parenting requires mutual respect and love for children. One way that we try to do this is to spend one-on-one time with each child periodically. We are working on putting our phones down more often and making our time together more intentional. We hope that building these relationships with each other will help our children to develop the character traits in our mission statement.
- Provide opportunities to learn and do hard things: We also try to provide opportunities for our children to do hard things, and we help them see those things through to completion. We do hard things together . . . Big puzzles. Long hikes. Learning new skills. We try to show them the joy we feel when we accomplish something hard (and how it is okay to be frustrated in the midst of the “hard”). We praise effort over outcomes. We point out when a child overcomes a fear and celebrate successes as a family. When they tell us something is hard, we reply, “good thing that we like to do hard things!”
- Encourage interests: When one of our children has a newfound interest, we try to run with it. We go to the library, take mini field trips, watch videos on the subject, and learn from others. We encourage questions and get excited about answers. We allow our children to see us enjoy learning new things (and sometimes failing along the way).
- Support each other: Our children attend each other’s games and performances. They cheer each other on and find joy in each other’s successes.
What goals do you have for your family?
What would be in your family mission statement?