Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Purposeful Parenting: Envision Your Child at age 18

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Since Bug's birth, I've felt I have a lot to share of our journey, things we've learned and what we're doing with her and why. I thought a series on this blog would be a great way to share this information! This series will be twice a month.

Jason and I didn't "plan" to have children - rather, we let God decide. This might be crazy to some, but God calls us to be fruitful and multiply. He also calls us to trust Him in all things. We didn't want to hinder any of the plans He had for us.

Since we have never used birth control, all through our marriage, we have discussed what we would do if God did bless us with a child - whether biological or adopted {in case you didn't catch it earlier this year, Bug is our biological child}.

More than we discussed how we would take care of a child in the day-to-day, we envisioned what our child would be like at age 18. What skills would we want to encourage in our child? What character traits did we want our child to display? What sort of lifestyle would our child have?

Here's the thing: you are the molder of your child's life. Just as God is the potter with us {and with our children, too} and we are the clay, it's very much the same in a child's life in terms of the relationship between the child and parent. My child is the clay, and I am the potter. I am molding my child through my own actions.

And I'm molding my child through what I'm teaching. If I want my child to be a certain way at age 18, I have to be intentional about doing what I can to ensure my child becomes that. My child may not be what I envisioned at age 18 because God knows, I can't control that. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't do what I know what I can to help my child learn the life skills I feel are important.

There were three character traits that were in my mind even before we knew we were pregnant that I wanted my child, should I be blessed with one, to have at age 18: strength, courage and grace.

Throughout my pregnancy, those three words repeated themselves over and over in my mind. Jason and I spent many evenings discussing what exactly we would teach our child for him or her to have these characteristics. We spent many, many evenings envisioning our child's future: would s/he be a doctor? would s/he be a homemaker? would s/he get married and raise children? would s/he have a heart for serving God and all people? would s/he be smart with money?

Whatever we desired for the child growing in my belly, we knew we had to play a part in helping him or her reach his or her full potential.

Now that Bug is here, and we're getting to know her, all these feelings have only increased in their intensity. I envision her at age 18, making her way into the world. For her to lead the life I've envisioned, I envision she'll still be at home, done with homeschooling, serving in our church and attending a local college. She'll be strong - both physically and emotionally. She'll play sports. She'll stand up for others and be courageous when doing so. She will love animals and attempt to bring home every animal in need {although I doubt we will let her keep every single animal since they would probably overrun our house!}. She will be gracious - she'll always have a kind word and a ready smile.

I envision Bug will meet a young man, one who is strong in his faith, and they will fall in love. They will get married and have lots and lots of babies. Bug may be a stay-at-home mom, or maybe she'll have a career, like me. Either way, she will know how to balance life because she'll see how I've done it and am doing it.

Bug will be frugal when necessary and smart with money always. She'll know how to cook, she'll shop at secondhand stores and garage sales for clothing and home goods. She'll grow food in a garden and be fully funding her ROTH IRA every year. She'll have no debt and a fully funded emergency fund.

Bug definitely has a fantastic future... as long as we are proactive in helping to nurture these characteristics. Every parent should homeschool - in that, you're always teaching lessons at home. Maybe every Saturday morning, you teach your child a new life skill. I wasn't in school that long ago {just 10 years!}, and I promise: your kid isn't going to learn to cook or balance a budget in school. I didn't. In fact, when I moved in with Jason, these are the things I did not know how to do:
  • change a tire
  • change the oil in my car
  • run the dishwasher
  • use a washer/dryer
  • have a budget and keep it balanced
  • cook
Admittedly, I still don't know how to do the first two things, but Jason does, so that's positive! But I literally didn't know how to work a dishwasher. In fact, the first year we lived together, I refused to use it because I didn't think it would adequately clean the dishes. Then, I used it once when I really had to, and I was amazed. I love dishwashers now!

Anyway, my point is that your child will have a slim-to-no chance to being what you envision if you don't take the time to first envision your child and then realize what you can do to help your child grow to be that amazing person. Think of all the ways you can nurture your child to grow into your vision. We have so many lessons in mind:
  • tire changing lesson
  • house cleaning lesson
  • shopping for the week using that week's budgeted grocery money and not a penny more lesson
  • creating a budget based on living on your own {including visiting apartments to see what you can afford and picking a profession so you know how much you make}
  • cooking dinner for the family for a week/month/year
These are lessons everyone should do, even if you're not homeschooling! Homeschooling really just means you're teaching your child at home. Everyone should be teaching their child something at home, even if they attend a traditional school. Schools will not teach your child the life skills he or she needs to succeed in life.

No matter if you have kids already or you don't, envision your child's future. What characteristics do you want them to have? How can you nurture your child so s/he reaches that future?

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