My friend, writer Jeff Goins, challenges his audience to write 500 words. I've been noodling the idea of writing a book and so I'll take the plunge.
I want to encourage parents everywhere that it is possible to raise godly children who follow Christ and excel in the things they put their minds to. The world wants you to believe that rebellion is a given and that the teen years will be a nightmare. Not so! We raised two girls who did not rebel in any major ways. Sure they experimented with alcohol, and pushed the boundaries, made occasional poor choices, and fought with each other; but, they were also high-school valedictorians, accepted early to college, and excelled in their colleges. Today the younger one is entering her senior year at a Christian college and the older graduated from a prestigious school and is pursuing her dream of stage management.
How did we do it? Consistency, love, firm boundaries, and faith integrated into every aspect of life is the short answer. The long answer, well, that's a book. Our family is very close, the sisters are best friends and mom is often their confidante. And dad is their role model. We were active in church and looked for opportunities for them to be mentored and discipled. We walked out our faith as transparently as possible. We chose a lifestyle of service and ministry and hospitality which created a place of vitality and we were part of a tribe of like-minded families.
But we also encouraged them to be independent and to think for themselves. While we did many activities together as a family, and savored the moments, days, and years, we were not 'helicopter parents'. Often I would hear other parents lament the burden of having children at home, as in "I can't wait for school to start" or "summer is too long." I could not fully understand this mindset. Our children are a gift and I was thankful for the time that I had with them. I invested myself fully as a mom in all aspects of their development. I encouraged them to develop interests and friendships outside the home, but made home a place they would want to come back to.
We instilled discipline in them from a young age without being harsh or overbearing. We taught them to think, to discern, and to make decisions. We expected them to be responsible and resourceful. While we live a middle-class life, we taught them not to take privilege for granted, mostly by example and experience in the developing world. For a period of time, we homeschooled them. We read aloud as a family well into their teen years. We also read the Bible together and encouraged them to read and memorize Scripture. We were involved in their faith development, not leaving it to the church. We practiced thankfulness.
Oh and we ate dinner together as a family just about every night.
Want more? Well, I guess you'll have to (wait for) and buy the book!