People Over Projects (Part 3)

Last week, I shared about the importance of not just planning activities for our children but making goals to invest our time in building up our relationship with them. As I had promised, I'll share a little bit more of what I mean in today's post by detailing my goals for my kids this year. For my oldest daughter, Janna, she has been perfectly happy to study on her own. And for the most part, I let her. The boys keep me busy enough! Her quiet nature, responsible and diligent personality makes her one less person I need to keep on track. But I am also realizing that as an adolescent, she also needs her mother, maybe not to tie her shoes or fix a snack, but to map out her future, train her emotions, and prepare her heart for a family of her own.

And so, this year, I am making it a goal to spend from 11:00-11:45 with her three times a week (T, W, Th) for discipleship in particular areas. This month, we are focusing on working on finalizing her college plans before her junior year hits and to getting everything in line so she is ready to take the SATs and complete graduation requirements.

But I see my role as more than a college guidance counselor. I also have a list of other areas that I want to open the door for conversation for, including dating, homemaking, and mothering. As a homeschooling mother, I have the opportunity to shape my daughter's perspective on what I believe will be her biggest work in life, building a home and raising children. My goal is that each month, we will focus on a particular area of "growing up" and making space to bring up topics that probably won't come up in normal conversation (at least, not with little brothers prowling about in the room!). My hope is that these will be fun times of connection and sharing, while at the same time equipping her with skills for life.

My oldest son, Matthew, however, needs different goals. As a 5th grader, he is a competent reader. But I am finding that he is depending on me to do a lot of it for him. In order to make time for his sister, I am realizing he needs to start learning on his own. And so my goals for him include slowly weaning him from depending on me by giving him more responsibility for his studies, a little at a time. Part of this will include helping him to learn study skills, such as breaking up assignments into smaller tasks and using a plan to tackle them. If I can do this, I can open up that extra half hour or more that I need to start including with Janna every day.

In addition to this, we are going to have some fun time every Friday evening after basketball practice to hang out, his choice. I have to remember that he is still a boy and these golden years before adolescence are slipping by very quickly. Pretty soon, it may not be cool to hang out with your mom anymore. (Boo hoo. I am sad at the thought!) Anyways, Janna is at youth group, Jonathan is in bed, and it will be just the two of us. Sometimes he picks a movie. Sometimes he picks a game to play. (He tried to teach me Stratego last week and dusted me off pretty quickly. My excuse? It's been a long day.)

And my youngest? Well, at this time, I think short and sweet is best. And so I make it a goal that in addition to our 20-30 minutes of concentrated school time (which he thinks is fun!) I read to him before bed. Right now, my primary relational goal with him is to fill his little love tank. Snuggling and a good story still works for him. We take about 10 minutes to find a good one to read and we just luxuriate in it.

If he had it his way, I would be playing with him all day, but I am also realizing that I need to spend a little time each week, even if it's just a few moments, to enter into his world. And so I make it a goal to spend about 5 minutes a few times a day just to eat his pretend pizza or watch him race his cars or help him with his lego building. Maybe it's just listening to him or holding him when he gets hurt instead of brushing him off.

All these things are about building relationship. None of them is about getting on the All-star team, mastering drawing with charcoal, or music or dance or whatever. Not that we don't do them. Matthew plays sports and I am looking into a gymnastics program for Jonathan. But those are not what I consider real goals. They are activities. And if they do not further God's work in their lives, I do not do them. It's as simple as that.

A lot of moms ask me how I get so much done. Well, first of all, I don't. If you could only see what I don't finish on my list, then you probably won't say it. I think the important thing is this: am I doing the most important things? What do I want my children to remember about me? Seeing the back of my head as I chauffeur them around or my face as I watch them and talk with them?

I don't know about you, but it's a clear choice for me. Our kids are people, not projects. Let's set goals that grow them into Christlikeness and faith and build for us a relationship that will far outstrip the years that they are in our home.