When you have four kids you get asked a lot of questions. I am very proud of my children and so often people now ask me what we did to get such great kids. This question is especially asked of my older daughters who are now 19 & 17. It seems that respectful youth with good work ethics and self-confidence is unusual. This is sad, and not the fault of the kids.
The problem I have with that question is that those that ask seem to think I can some up 20 years of hard work into a couple of sentences. That is simply impossible and when I am faced with it, I don’t even know where to begin. But really, the beginning is God and His plan for my children. When they were born I was excited to see what He had gifted them to do and what His design was for their life- not mine. I do believe a frequently made mistake by parents and other adults make with children is dreaming dreams for the kids without ever consulting God or simply looking at what the child is and what their desires are. Each of us are gifted from the womb with abilities and desires written on our hearts by the hand of God. To ignore these in our own lives is to live a life of misery. To ignore these in our children is to set the children up for hardship. In this situation, the child will either have to bury their God-given desires and dreams to conform to the parents wishes or they will have to rebel or fight to follow God’s will for them. Woe to us as parents if we ever put our children in that position.
So, as my children grew they were free to dream, to express their hearts desires, and they were free to obey. Everyone answers to authority, the sooner we accept this the sooner God can move in our lives. I answer to Tony (my husband) and to God. My kids answer to me, their father, and to God. The idea here is that I am following God so that answering to me is the equivalent to answering to God. Which means I had better be keeping close with God or I will mess my kids up! So, my children learned that they were free to be the person God created them to be, but obedience was a key to that. Some of the four accepted this with out much protest, some of them were not going down without a fight. Either way, they have come to understand authority and the blessing that obedience brings to their lives.
Another key to developing great kids is to have time at home. In the society that we all live there is this merry- go- round. You know the kind that was once in all the playgrounds. It could go as fast as the kid pulling or pushing it could go. Well, the society merry-go-round is spinning out of control with lots of “good” activities for you too participate in and for you kids to be involved. The problem is this- most of these activities have no eternal benefit. They do not develop any skills or fundamentals that your children will need as adults. I even include sports in this because sports had become a god to so many. Yes, there are benefits to sports- I know because my kids played and so did I. However, there is no reason for a kid to be playing every sport, many at the same time. If your schedule has you gone from home every night of the week and most Saturdays- your house is a hotel and not a home. Changes must be made if you want your children to be successful, confident, and stable adults. We were once on the merry-go-round as well. We have four kids and with each one choosing only 1 thing each at a time, we were still busy every night, then you add in church, family events, and school with all its demands= we were out of control in our time and stressed. We did find the key to getting off the merry-go-round– You have to JUMP! It will not stop and people around you will not applaud your choice. But, it must be done, you will be glad you did! We cleared our schedule- no sports teams, no camps, no anything for a few months and then we only added back what God clearly said to do. Wow, we were happy, even the kids were after the initial hurt feelings. We had time to play card games, board games, and time for fishing and camping. This is the life!
Now, I could go on for pages about the things that we did as parents to get the results we are seeing, but these few things I have listed are key elements. There will be many more blog posts on different aspects, but these are the ones I believe give the best starting point.