Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
As a new parent, you probably had visions of what your little one would grow up to be or do. And one of those visions might have been that he/she would grow up to be kind, considerate, confident, and courageous. But how do you help your child become such an individual? And if you have an idea as to how, when do you start? Did you realize that your parenting method for the babyhood stage greatly impacts your child in their toddler years? And their toddler years impact their early childhood, then middle years, teen years, and ultimately as an adult? It’s important to be thinking long term in your parenting. Here’s a grand vision of how parenting your child from day one with a purpose can pave the way for your child to have a warehouse full of moral virtues which enable him to make the right choices. Helping your child love virtue by pointing him to the Author of virtue will cultivate a desire for salvation from sin. With thoughtful planning and a vision for our parenting, we can give our children the best gift of shepherding: a desire to contribute to God’s Kingdom by following His plan through self-sacrifice. Here’s a brief summary of what each stage of your parenting can look like.
- MARRIAGE – It all starts here. Your marriage relationship should have priority over your relationship with your children. It should be a relationship full of the love Christ has for His church. It should be the best example your kids will ever see of Christ, and should be the kind of marriage that causes them to feel secure in their home and want to fall in love like Mommy and Daddy someday.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. (Ephesians 5:25)
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)
- BABYHOOD – Knowing that your marriage comes first and that a baby doesn’t “make” you a family, he only expands it, starts you on the right foundation in your parenting. Preparation for Parenting encourages training an infant to sleep independently. This takes time and perseverance because every baby and family is different. It isn’t meant to be a “cold turkey, cry it out, the baby can deal with it” method. By gradually implementing the training tools of parent-directed feeding and sleeping, you will begin to gently ease your baby into a healthy rhythm of eating, playing, and sleeping independently. This gives Mom and Dad the confidence that they’re meeting all of baby’s needs through the consistency of routine.
Consistency is the way most parents want to go, so if you want to be characterized as a consistent parent in the toddler years, begin with the consistency of routine in the babyhood stage. Begin as you mean to go.
- TODDLERHOOD – Once you’ve come out of the babyhood stage with consistent healthy eating and sleeping patterns, the ground work has been laid for your toddler to obey your instructions. Because of your previous work, you won’t have a child who’s frustrated and confused from being allowed to dictate his day when it came to naps and meals. Instead your toddler will easily accept Mom’s management of his day and naptime, mealtime, and play time melt downs will be almost non-existent.
Goals for this stage of parenting include training your toddler/preschooler to obey the first time, the whole time, and when you’re not looking. As they continue to mature, you will give them the moral reason “why” you have certain rules and boundaries so that soon, they can make the right choice with confidence.
Confidence is also strengthened through family identity, another important aspect of raising a secure child. Practically, this shows itself through taking time to talk about your family, how you love God, each other, and others. Strengthen your family identity by talking about your family name, why your family is so amazing, and how God put you all together.
Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. (Proverbs 20:11)
- CHILDHOOD – Boundaries slowly begin to expand and your children can tell you the reason why they should, or shouldn’t, do something. They now are able to do the right thing when no one is looking, and are beginning to love doing right because Mom and Dad have filled their moral warehouses with virtues and the Biblical reasons why we do right and pointed them towards Jesus through devotional living. The soil of your child’s heart has been thoroughly cultivated to receive the Gospel.
And ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down,
and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 11:19)
- THE TEEN YEARS – Friendship with your child begins to blossom and comes to fruition at the end of this stage. By this time (if you’ve done a thorough job creating a strong family identity), it is their loyalty to their family, their relationship with Christ, and a heart overflowing with virtue that allows you to lead by relational influence rather than rules. Trust is given and received, communication is strong, and understanding is abundant. Your teens will not only do the right thing when you’re not around but they’ll be a joy and blessing to others by ministering to those around them and will look for opportunities to put others first.
The integrity of the upright shall guide them: (Proverbs 11:3)
- ADULTHOOD – At last, your child is grown and blossomed into a confident individual capable of making decisions based on Biblical principles. He has a great friendship with his parents and feels empowered to live and love courageously for the Kingdom of God, and to bring up his own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Eph 6:4)
The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (Proverbs 20:7)
Do you have a grand vision for your parenting? Where are you in the process?
Stacy Bullock is a wife and stay-at-home mother of three kids. Married to her high school sweetheart, Joshua, she couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling life. She enjoys playing the cello, horseback riding, and helping other mothers find fulfillment in making their quiver a happy and heavenly home to sharpen and ready their arrows (children) to be launched into the world to glorify God in following His calling on their lives.