Raising kids with purpose

Thom DickFeatured, Parenting3 Comments

Recently I had the privilege of joining in with a bunch of educators, community leaders, parents and students in a school division workshop to talk about what skills, knowledge, dispositions (attitudes) and values (or beliefs) that a student graduating from our schools should have. Besides the fact that it was a surprisingly fun exercise (I think the company helped!) I learned a lot! There were clear winners with many of the characteristics that were chosen, for example a student should be proficient in numeracy and literacy as well as technology but then there were some pleasant surprises such a wholeness, joy and work ethic. I walked away thinking that if our graduates embodied the set of qualities we had listed as a group that we would have very fine citizens indeed.

Now this was a public school workshop and so while some of the specifics of the ideal graduate would look different from say a Christian school, there were many that overlapped. It caused me to think about what our church was “producing” in terms of our graduates! Are they joyful? Are they hard workers? Do they demonstrate, say Biblical literacy? I used to say that you had to have a goal in mind for your students or you will just do “stuff” without direction. An unplanned approach might produce a student who loves Jesus and engenders the values of our church, but it would also be easy to miss the mark… because there isn’t one. (“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”) The Church needs to be intentional. We need to know where we are leading people. Of course the path isn’t always straight nor the way easily distinguished, but if we don’t at least think about what we are doing with the sheep God has entrusted to us, we shouldn’t be surprised when we end up in the rough. And this has led to many fruitful conversations around our office.

However, during one such conversation yesterday it dawned on me; our schools are working to become much more intentional (and thankfully about more than intellectual goals, as important as those are), and now our church is thinking through intentionality and goals, but I’ve never done the same for my family! I mean in general I want my kids to love God and love people and we even have a few strategies for accomplishing that goal (foster care), but I’ve never actually thought about raising our kids with purpose from beginning to end. That’s a problem. And if I’m facing that dilemma I suspect that other parents are also shooting towards an unmarked target. So what do we want for our kids?

I thought of telling you what our values were as a family but then I had a better idea – why don’t YOU tell The Renewed Family readers what is important to your family. And more than that, tell us how you are working to see those values in your children. If you need help to get you started think about this, when your kids leave home one day, what do you pray they will take with them? What will they need in terms of skills (e.g. budgeting, conflict management, communication, cooking, etc.), what sorts of knowledge will they need (e.g. how to buy a car, how to bind a wound to stop the bleeding, the kind of spouse they want, etc.), what kind of attitude do you hope they display (e.g. hopeful, hard-working, respectful, etc.) and what values or beliefs do you hope they’ll have (e.g. I believe in God for myself, generosity is good, etc.)?

Clearly there are tons of different ideas out there but the point isn’t to implement everyone else’s, nor it is to critique other families, but to learn from other parents to see if there are holes in the values we have in our home. So think about it and suggest your top one or two for a few different categories and then let us know what you do to train your kids in those areas! This is going to be fun! I hope many people will weigh in!


kids with purpose

3 Comments on “Raising kids with purpose”

  1. I think for us the big character ones are loving, forgiving and being respectful. Respect is the big challenge for us right now because its a posture of the heart and very diverse in each situation. In my 4 year old we try to encourage him to reflect “is your heart turned towards the person or away from them? Are your words and actions showing that they mean a lot to you or very little?”
    As for being prepared in the world….obviously successful potty habits are a good one for our two year old! 🙂 But a main one for us is getting into the habit of good manners…..people who have great manners are often more respected because they come across as pleasant are set up to succeed in life. I loved Donovans corn talk in his message….it seems like a small thing but it goes a long way to show respect and courteous behaviour around the dinner table. May I please sounds a lot more appealing than “i want” or “gimmie”.
    Its so hard to think of my kids as adults because they are so little now but I always refer back to my moms good advice “if the behaviour seems cute now, cut and paste the same actions onto a 16 year old. Is it still cute? If not, deal with it!!”

  2. My small 2 cents as a mom & teacher…
    Someone I look up to introduced me to the motto “Mess up, Fess up, Fix Up”. It’s something I use in my classroom regularly and have started at home as well (in very limited ways as I only have a near 2 year old!) The idea is to teach kids that when they make a mistake, they need to own up to it and find a way to fix it. I can’t force a heartfelt “sorry” and I can’t force forgiveness, but in the meantime, while I pray for my kids’ hearts to genuinely want to repent and forgive, I can teach them the importance of making things right, especially when it involves their relationship with other people.

    1. Thom Dick

      That’s awesome! Thanks for the comment! Phrases like that are so important – scripts that are repeated stick in the heads of kids a lot better!

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