What kind of kid do you hope to develop?

Note: On on January 11, 2009 I began facilitating a parenting class for DaySpring, the church I attend in Waco.  I’m going to be offering some of what I’m doing there in this space over the Spring.

Okay, I’m running way behind this week, so this entry is a bit disjointed.  What you’ll find below is:

  1. The responses from an email request.
  2. My outline from the class
  3. The assignment for this coming Sunday.

Responses from email request

Last week I asked members of the class to email the sorts of character traits they hoped to help their children develop. The list that came out of that request was

  • I always pray that my children will grow up to have Compassion, Good Judgment, and a Healthy Sense of Self Worth.
  • I want my children to be able to make and keep promises.
  • I want my children to be respectful, considerate, and polite.
  • I want my children to appreciate the simple things and be thankful for what they have.
  • I want my children to know who God is and understand why it is so powerful that He loves them more than I do.
  • I want my children to have strength of character—meaning they won’t be choosing the right things because I told them to, but because they choose it. (and I know this won’t happen until later…)
  • I want my children to grasp stillness and quietness and seek it, but without the seeking turning into complete solitude.
  • I want my boys to be unafraid — minus healthy fear, i.e., ovens, jumping off cliffs, etc. — but unafraid to talk, feel, have an opinion, speak up.
  • I want my child to be a person who is polite to others and can treat people with respect.
  • I want my child to be an unselfish, giving person.
  • I want my child to be responsible.
  • I want my child to have confidence in his abilities.
  • I want my child to be someone other people enjoy being around.
  • I want my child to be an honest person.
  • I want my children to be able to be themselves — authentic, real, free to be who they truly are, not constrained by someone else’s (or society’s) ideals or standards.
  • In my parenting I’m hoping to create people who think well, love well, and act well–in other words, people who are good thinkers, good lovers, and good doers.
  • I want my children to have the cardinal virtues, i.e., faith, hope, love, wisdom, temperance, courage and justice.
  • I want my children to be followers of Jesus. I want my children to glorify God and enjoy him forever. (Maybe these are all the same.)
  • I want my children to be well-educated and emotionally mature enough to pursue any future God calls them to, and I want them to be thoughtful and sensitive enough to listen for God’s call.
  • I want them to question everything.
  • I want them to fear nothing, and to settle for nothing.
  • I want them to be hard workers. I want them to be open to anything beautiful and worthy, and to have no taste at all for unholy, debasing things.
  • I want their family to be a rock for them–an unmovable, unshakable, solid support–and I want them to know it.
  • I want them to realize every once of potential they have for excellence, and to do it all not only for their own sake but also for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom.
  • Maybe the only short answer that works: I want them to be, in a word, blessed.

Its a great list.  Who wouldn’t want to their children to live out of these virtues? What would you add?

An important question:  To what degree to your children see you living out of these virtues?

My outline

I heard someone say one that the single most important question that everyone person must answer is: Would you rather people respect you or like you?

You know what the answer is supposed to be, but if I could watch your closely for one week, what you do you think I would conclude?

I want to suggest that the single most important question that a parent much ask is:  Would you rather your children lives of meaning or lives that are happy?

You know what your answer is supposed to be, but if I watched you deal with your children for one week, what do you believe I would conclude?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

  1. Human beings are the only creatures on earth that can have all basic needs met, and yet still experience profound levels of anxiety and depression.
  2. Life is hard, and so inevitably throws challenges, sometimes traumatic challenges, in our paths.
  3. “The brain is an organ designed for survival, not for understanding.” (paraphrase of E.O. Wilson)
    • The human “mind” has evolved over centuries to keep a person safe and alive.
    • We are wired to avoid all situations that our minds assess as dangerous in any way.
  4. When people make “happiness” the primary goal, then the mind is subconsciously primed for pain avoidance.
  5. When people make “meaning” the goal, the mind is subconsciously primed to acceptance pain.
  6. Research suggests that people who accept pain and make their goal to live a meaningful life report more happiness and contentment than those who make happiness the goal.
  7. You cannot live a meaningful life unless you are willing to be wounded.

ACT Model for moving towards a meaningful life

  1. Develop basic mindfulness.
  2. Clarify your values in each of the 10 core areas of life
    • Family relations.
    • Marriage/couples/intimate relations.
    • Parenting.
    • Friendships/social life.
    • Career/employment.
    • Education/personal growth and development.
    • Recreation/fun/leisure.
    • Spirituality.
    • Citizenship/ environment/ community life.
    • Health/physical well-being.
  3. Indentify key behaviors associated with each value.
  4. Commit to acting on those behaviors in the face of discomfort, pain, or suffering.

Assignment for this Sunday

I asked the parents to choose a particular behavior or issue of one of their children that they would like to work on.  I asked them to work through the following worksheet as they considered this behavior:  The Parenting Experiment Worksheet

Now… muddle forth!



About Wes Eades

I've been a pastoral counselor, marital therapist, and overall listening ear since about 1989 or so.
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