People Over Projects (Part 2)

Yesterday, I wrote about how my husband and I set goals for our marriage. It is no different with my kids. Now if you are a mom, I don't have to tell you that kids take up a lot of our time each day. They would take every minute if I let them. The question is, what am I doing with those minutes? Are my days filled with the things that help build them towards godly character? God's purposes for them? Or are they filled with my own fears, ambitions and goals for my kids?

Maybe I'm going to step on a few toes here, but maybe it needs to be said. When it comes to kids, this is one area that I have to be really careful about. I know I often look at my competence as a parent by considering how many activities my kids are involved in. It is easy for me as a parent to believe that if my kids have every opportunity there is, that I am doing a good job.

But the fact is, our children can be running from morning to night, just as we are, and we can still fail to do the most important things with them. In the process, we end up raising children who may have a wealth of experience but a dearth in the heart.

I will confess here that I have fallen into this temptation because I don't want my children to win the "Most Deprived Kid" award. Gasp! What will other parents think! And so I fall prey to the call to enroll them in classes or programs.

The other reason why I do this---keeping it real now---is because I really don't want to spend my energies in talking with them. Absolutely true. I am a very selfish person. I feel like I do a lot of talking at (i.e. barking orders, management, etc.) my kids every day. With every word, sometimes my introverted self feels drained drier and drier. So, it really is nice when I know they are occupied productively elsewhere...and someone else is dealing with them.

Now before we go up in arms, let me make this clear. I am not saying don't put your kids in preschool or gymboree or karate or art or music or what-have-you. What I am saying is that we need to be careful not to substitute these things for real, honest-to-goodness relationship building times with our children.

As I consider my relationship with my children---not just what I do for my children---I need to consider how God would want me to invest in the building up and discipleship of my kids. What activities will best help them to develop our relationship as well as meet their needs at this particular stage in their life? With a pre-teen and a teen in the home, I am learning that if I want them to hear me out, I need a platform from which to speak. And that platform comes in the form of a trusting relationship that has been built over the years. I cannot expect them to listen to me in the times that count when I have not invested time to getting to know them and build a relationship with them.

In our busy day and age, we are often so busy shuttling our children around that any time we have with them is limited to checking to see if they have their gym bag or homework or school project before we leave the house. The relationship that I'm talking about requires sharing from the heart, not just a meeting of the minds (or schedules). In order to get to our children's hearts and impact them where it counts the most, we need to make space in our lives just to be with them.

This year, I realized that even though I homeschool my children, and have a lot of time with them, it is just as easy to substitute that time together as my relationship with them. However, I realize that I don't want my children to think of time with me just as work! Mom=school is not an equation I want them to learn!

And so, the Lord challenged me this year to make time in my schedule for each of my children that goes beyond schoolwork. He also challenged me to consider what each of them needs in terms of discipleship in their particular age and stage of life. Next week, I'll share some of the goals I have with each of them.

In the meantime, how about you? As you look at your schedule, are there spaces in your life to build your relationship with them--and not just do things for them? Ask the Lord to show you how He can help you make the most of the brief time we have with our kids. It seems like a long time when they're young, but it sure does fly by quickly when we're not watching! May the Lord guide you in creating goals that will help to further the work He is already doing in your precious children.

More on this Monday!