Do you ever stretch your mind to imagine future seasons of life far beyond the one in which you currently live? Every once in awhile I find myself richly reminded that I am currently raising the parents of my future grandchildren.
The reasons I think about this every so often tend to vary, but most recently it hit home once again when I walked upstairs to my bedroom to find my oldest daughter locked inside the adjoining bathroom. This has been an endearing new pastime of hers to want to try Mom’s clothes on for size. I’d found her doing so probably three or four times already, so I knew before I even entered the bathroom what was going on inside. One time I even found her playing in my makeup too 😉
I happen to be a great big softie, so for me this elicited more heart explosions than anything else even though permission was never requested each time. That being said, the first time or two, I couldn’t help but think about how exasperated Natalie would be if she found her little sister in the same scenario with her clothes and personal items 😉 Guarded and private by nature, she tends to come by possessiveness and defensiveness easily at this point in her life, especially with her sister.
At first, I did ask Natalie some leading questions about how she thinks she would have reacted if she had walked in on her sister into her things without her permission – and she definitely got the point and did some self-reflecting without me having to say too much. But not only was it clear that this valid point fell utterly peripheral to her pressing motivations of the moment, I also came to believe that this same truth was beside the bigger point. It was rather inconsequential when compared with two important matters of the heart I could not ignore.
Not only was my daughter exercising the awesome power of imagination and finding joy in the endless possibilities found in the unique items that seem to embody Mom’s womanhood – but more importantly, this was an opportunity to model for my child the same response I would want her to meet her own children with some day.
Never before had I found myself so humbled in realizing what a powerful moment I was gifted with to make a difference in the lives of my children’s children. Though I may fail to see them, I actually have these opportunities every single day, all throughout the day. Indeed, we all teach our children how to love, by how we show love to them.
Here’s the clincher – seriously, this is what really gets me! We have this opportunity now to make the most of these opportunities, but soon – soon, our influence will no longer be so innate and accessible … or even welcomed. Just consider it – how common is it for grandparents to instruct their children in the art of parenting, as their children raise their own children each day?
Yet if we as parents begin with the end in mind, it’s a total game changer! Right now while our children live under our roof as our own, we are instructing them in the art of parenting, just by parenting them! Just like we are all students in the school of life, our kids are our students in the school of parenting, like it or not. Just take a moment and really wrap your mind around that one. Wow, right? It’s an awesome privilege, yet a humbling responsibility.
So maybe you’re saying that’s great and all, but I’m nowhere near being a grandparent – what about the fact that for many of us, that’s years away. How can the average parent begin with the end in mind to raise his own children to be the kind of parents he wants for his future grandchildren?
Define your values
It’s hard to teach and model family values for our kids if we haven’t clearly defined them ourselves. “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” – Peter Marshall. Whether this means working on a family mission statement, reading good books to pour into you as a parent, or that heart to heart you’ve been needing with your co-parent – take the time to define what’s most important in your family so you can consistently model it for your children.
We all know consistency can eliminate many battles of the will. Kids have a knack for testing boundaries and if boundaries are not clearly defined then kids are all the more likely to explore the limits of the ambiguity they sense.
Show empathy and give grace
Household rules may have their place but even more paramount is our willingness to give grace when they are broken. My favorite book on this topic is by a mother daughter team who believe in a grace-giving God who freely adopts rebels and transforms them into loving sons and daughters. Give Them Grace is a revolutionary perspective on parenting that shows us how to receive the gospel afresh and give grace in abundance, helping our children know the dazzling love of Jesus and respond with heartfelt obedience.
Seek out trusted friends and mentors
Find the ones who will help you see the forest for the trees when you’re feeling weary. Look for the people who will come alongside you and allow you to do the same, to remind one another of what’s most important.
What can you do now to help pave the way for your children’s future journey? Share with us below and be sure to save this post for the days your heart needs a reminder or for a friend in need.
For more on learning to live with intention, check out 5 Ways to Write the Life Story You Want to be Remembered For