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Are You Parenting for Today or Tomorrow?

Aug 18, 2007
When my wife and I got married, we had a lot in common. But there was one area in which we were complete opposites. She lived for the future. I lived for today.

As a result, she had a nice savings account, a plan for her family (all the way down to meals and vacations), and a way to prioritize everything that came up, including expenditures. I, on the other hand, flew by the seat of my pants. If I saw something I wanted, I bought it. If I wanted to do something, I did it.

Obviously, my way of life wreaked havoc on hers. Over the years, though, she's convinced me of the need to plan ahead. I'm still not as good about it as she is. But it's made a huge difference in our relationship and our family.

One area we knew had to become more future oriented was our parenting. What were our goals? Where did we want our children to be when they reached 18? This included spiritual and emotional maturity, academic development, and other areas of growth. Our children are still young, so we're still working on many of these areas, but it did make us change some things about the way we parent.

For instance, discipline changed. Instead of expecting perfection now, we set our goals on having mature 18 year olds. This allowed us to work more with our children and to be more patient with them. We could take the time to sit and talk with them instead of trying to force them into a behavior. It also allowed us time to look at their hearts, not just their actions.

Of course, we still have to discipline for inappropriate actions they do today. But our discipline is directed toward a goal. Not just correcting behavior. When they fail to make progress, we have a way to evaluate where they are, why they aren't making progress, and it gives us some direction on how to move forward.

Being future-oriented in our parenting had other effects as well. We look at their eating habits to see how those habits will affect them 20 or 30 years down the road. We evaluate how they spend their time. Are they working enough? Playing too much? Being silly at the wrong times? And we're able to train them much more effectively for the future in these areas.

If you live for today with your children, realize it will have consequences down the road. And those consequences will ultimately show how much you loved your children when they were young. Do you love them for today only? Or do you love them for the future as well?

It's time to sit down and evaluate your actions and what consequences they will have down the road. Then ask yourself, "Will my training methods produce fruit in my children 30 years from now -- fruit that shows how wise or foolish I was in their childhood?" If you don't like the answer, it's time to make changes -- long-term changes.
About the Author
Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom's Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit http://www.wisdomsedge.com and sign up for this free e-zine.
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