CHAPTER 7: FARSIGHTED PARENTING
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
"Parents should aim their child rearing at a target that lies some distance off in the future....because the "way" a child should go does not vary from child to child, every parent should be aiming at the same target: an adult of right character, morals, and ethics who loves God....a clear vision of the kind of person he wants his child to be when his child is thirty years old." (p.146-147)
"Instead of parenting with the long-range goal in mind of responsible adults, a people in secure possession of good character, and the like, all too many of today's parents are focused on short-range goals that lie no more than several months to a year down the road." (p.147)
Although most parents focus on short-term goals: passing a spelling test, completing a project, getting A's in 3rd grade, this does not "train up a child in the way he should go." What they really should be focusing on is making sure that the child is, "responsible, charitable, reliable, and compassionate."
They may want their child to be a self starter..."Yet their day-to-day efforts are clearly not teaching the child to depend on their initiative to stand not on his own two feet, but on theirs." (p. 150)
They may want their child to understand failure is often necessary to success...."Yet their day-to-day efforts are preventing him from experiencing failure! How is he to develop a positive attitude in the face of disappointment if his parents protect him from any and all forms of it?" (p. 150)
"Nearsighted parenting is synonymous with parenting that is often frantic and therefore, exhausting. That's because nearsighted parents are micromanagers. Parents who are in constant short-term mode tend to zigzag all over the parenting "map" like a ship without a compass. This makes the raising of a child far more arduous, far more stressful than it otherwise would be, no matter how inherently "difficult" one's child may be." (p. 151)
"....when one goes about any task according to God's instruction, accomplishing the task will be relatively simple, though not always easy and painless. He hasn't made parenting complicated-we have! And the less one adheres to God's design in some area of life, the more complicated and difficult that part of life will be." (p. 152)
"...farsighted parents......don't sweat small, day-to-day details. No parenting decision is difficult to make, if you tune the decision to that long-term vision of the adult you are raising." (p. 153)
This next quote will have a lot of you ready to bite my head off...because I agree with it....I never remember my parents helping, nor even asking, any of my siblings and I, if we had homework, much less standing over us and checking it as we did it.
"Parents guided by a long-range vision of the adults they are trying to raise hold their children all but completely responsible for doing their own homework and doing it properly. Accordingly, they place conservative limits on the amount of homework help they are willing to dispense on any given night. Consistent with their overall disdain for micromanagement, they rarely even ask their children if they have homework. Because it is clear that responsibility for their homework belongs all but exclusively to them, these children do their homework, do it properly, and turn it in on time." (For more specifics on this sort of approach to homework, the reader is referred to ENDING THE HOMEWORK HASSLE by Andrews McMeel.) (p. 157)
"....only one after-school activity per season....with the caveat that no activity could keep the child out past seven in the evening or interfere with the family meal, which will occur at a reasonable hour and at home." (p. 162)
"Acting with the long-term vision uppermost in mind may result in short-term pain, but it nearly always results in long-term gain." (p. 165)
1. When making day-to-day parenting decisions, do you frequently "check in" with a vision of the adult you want your child to be when he or she is thirty years old?
2. On a scale of one to ten, rate your day-to-day parenting in terms of how frantic and stressed-out it it.
3. Has a concern with accomplishing short-term objectives pushed you in the direction of micromanagement?