Training tips: Begin with the end…

Apparently, I’ve started a weekly parenting series on this blog. Let’s call it  “Training Tips”. Here is a list of what I’ve covered so far:

1)      Training is a long-term process…no immediate results expected

2)      How do we know “the way” our children should go…we ask, look at directions, & remember previous experiences

3)      We are responsible to guide the spiritual lives of our children, so that a whole generation knows God’s love.

The next topic: the end product…beginning with the end in mind.

Aka: Intentional parenting.

 My husband and I are firm believers in intentional parenting and following the advice of Stephen Covey to “begin with the end in mind.” (from “7 habits of highly effective people”). Set a goal before beginning a task. Stay on task. Do not get distracted with choices/decisions that don’t fit that goal. 

Even though Bruce and I are “firm believers” in this concept…it doesn’t mean we actually execute those beliefs as well as we would like. There are areas of our parenting that we have been successful in keeping the “end in mind” and several we have failed. To make you feel better, I’ll start with the failures.

 Areas we have gone off course:

{Television}

 Apparent goal:   Adults who sit on the couch, eating chips and watching hours of television.

 Mistakes: Allowing our oldest son to start watching T.V. to keep him entertained while he ate his breakfast. Using T.V. to keep 2 boys…then 3boys entertained so I could cook dinner, clean up the house, or get ready to go somewhere.

 Desired goal: Adults who value interactions with others, read wonderful literature and serve the Lord outside their homes.

 Changes: Limiting T.V. to 2 shows for the day.  I give them acceptable choices of what to watch. They choose when to watch them.

 {Materialism}

 Apparent goal: Adults who love things more than people. Whose entire energy is devoted to accumulating “stuff”.

 Mistakes: Buying my oldest any toys or clothes I thought we “needed” to buy (even good developmental toys). Buying kids meals at fast food restaurants with free toys. My own obsession with shopping and attempting to find fulfillment through buying new things.

 Desired Goal: Adults who love God first and people second. Whose identity is not defined by what they have but who they are. Who are content and grateful with the gifts of grace God has given them.

 Changes: New toys are only for holidays/birthdays. When possible, buy larger adult meals and split them between the 3 children. I will spend my free time writing for this blog to share God with others instead of wandering the mall. I will verbalize my thankfulness for what I have been given instead of complaining and wanting more.

 Areas we are on track:

{Eating}

 Desired Goal: Adults who enjoy healthy food and practice self-regulation.

 This one comes from my husband’s upbringing…he was never forced to finish his food. We have taken this approach with our family as well. We all sit down together. We eat and talk about our highlights and lowlights for the day. If they are full we don’t tell them to take one more bite. We just tell them that they have to stay at the table until everyone is done eating. We instruct them to look around the table for clues if others are still eating. Another important component is not allowing snacking too close to major meals.

glimpse of fruit sticker collection

 As far as healthy eating, this comes from my upbringing. My mom filled our kitchen with healthy options (aka, whole wheat bread, all-natural peanut butter, fruit). That is all I knew, so that is what my body craved. I didn’t really like hamburgers until I met my husband.  Now for our family I just don’t buy a lot of junk food (of course there are the occasional Doritos, lunchables, ice cream).  I also purchase a lot of fruit. My sister-in-law taught me to wash all the fruit in the sink when I get home from the grocery store then keep it in the fruit drawer of the fridge for the boys to grab when they need a healthy snack. I also have a snack cabinet that is low for easy access. I keep it stocked with healthy, organic snacks.

 Again the goal is for them to enjoy healthy foods and practice self-regulation. If I am telling them when they are full or I am deciding when they are hungry then I am not keeping the “end in mind” of self-regulation.

 {Responsibility}

 Desired Goal: Adults who are responsible for themselves, not needing to be told how and when to do things.

 Our kids are still little but there are habits and patterns that we have instituted not only for our sanity but for the end goal of personal responsibility.

  • Shoe cubby: Each of my boys has 2 pairs of shoes and we keep them in the shoe cubby in the kitchen. Before we are getting ready to leave I announce we will be leaving soon and they know to get their shoes on. We have also taught them that when they come in the house to immediately put their shoes in the cubby. Then they don’t have difficulty trying to find them later.
  • Clean up after meals: It’s not difficult for a child of at least 3 years of age to carry a plate from the table to the sink. We often don’t expect enough out of young children and their ability to contribute.
  • Put their clothes away: Make the dirty clothes hamper accessible. We have ours on the floor in the boys’ closet. As part of the going to bed routine we expect them to put their dirty clothes in the hamper.
  • Clean up their toys: I struggle with this one. But I just got a tip from my mother-in-law. She had her children clean up each night. Anything not cleaned up went in the attic or the garage for a few days. She said that it was a natural consequence…if it wasn’t important enough to clean up then it wasn’t important enough to keep.
  • Help clean up spills: If a child spills milk or dumps Cheerios, instead of me yelling at them, I try having them help me clean it up. I love our dust buster for dry spills and the boys think its fun to use too.

 {Love for God…}

 Desired Goal: Adults who recognize their need for a Savior, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, experience God’s daily grace and who serve God wholeheartedly.

 I have discussed ways to reach this goal in the post “whole generation”. I would recommend the books, “Mission of Motherhood” or “Ministry of Motherhood” both by Sally Clarkson. She is wonderful. It was her writing that inspired me to keep an eternal perspective when shepherding my child’s heart. I just ordered “How to raise a child for Christ” by Andrew Murray…I’m sure I will have a book review on here soon.

How to begin with the end in mind:

  1.  Sit down with your spouse. Meet on the couch once the kids are asleep.  
  2. Pray together asking God to guide your discussion.
  3. Discuss what goals you want for your kids (physically, emotionally, spiritually). What kind of adults do you want them to be?
  4. Evaluate your lifestyle, discipline style, and parenting approach. Do they help you achieve those goals?
  5. What changes need to be made to achieve your goals?
  6. Start by making one change.

(disclaimer: for those of you reading that know our family… I hesitated even posting this topic because I don’t want to be held to a higher standard as an authority on the issue. I know our parenting is far from perfect. We are a work in progress. We are grateful to have y’all in our lives to learn from one another.)

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5 thoughts on “Training tips: Begin with the end…

  1. Thank you! I really enjoyed reading this 🙂 By the first part of your post I can tell you are normal, just like the rest of us, and I’m glad you wrote the post. Because for me, I don’t know how to lay things out like this, and having goals laid out like this, really is helpful! Like I have ideas in my mind, I know how I want my children to turn out, but putting things in a list like this really puts things into prespective 🙂 Vinessa

  2. This was wonderful. I am currently reading Ministry of Motherhood and it has been life changing for me. I often forget or lose sight of where I want my boys to be. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Pingback: She speaks with wisdom…consequences | God centered mom

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