A guest post by newly published author of the Christian parenting book “First Ask Why,” Shelly Wildman. It would be a fabulous follow-up to my book, “The Peaceful Mom – Building a Firm Foundation with Christ As Lord”:
Have you ever taken your kids on a trip but not told them where you were going?
Unless we’re surprising them with a trip to Disney world, it might seem a bit ridiculous not to prepare our kids for a trip, wouldn’t it? Even, perhaps, a little bit scary for a child.
My husband and I inadvertently did that one year. We loaded our car with suitcases, strapped our youngest into her car seat, grabbed our airline tickets, and headed to the airport, three little girls in tow. The oldest two knew that we were headed to Arizona to visit their grandparents for Christmas, but four-year-old Julia had no clue.
About halfway to the airport, Julia, still smiling and just happy to be with us, spoke up from the back seat.
“Hey guys? Where are we going?”
The rest of us burst out laughing! How had Julia missed the memo? This wasn’t a small trip, after all.
We’ve laughed about that incident for years, but in reality, my husband and I had missed the mark—we had not prepared everyone for the journey.
Sadly, many parents do this on a much larger scale, and often it’s not just a trip that’s miscommunicated. Often, parents forget to communicate where they’re going as a family, which leaves kids confused and misguided about the family’s purpose.
Proactive parents help their children see that their family isn’t merely a random group of people who live together under one roof for a time (and as one whose kids don’t live under her roof anymore, it feels like a very short time indeed!). Proactive parents help their children understand the purpose of their family and provide a vision for what God is doing through them.
So how do we get to our family vision? We ask why.
Asking why reveals our intentions and motivations.
Asking why helps us focus on what’s most important in our lives and in our family.
Asking why takes into account the individual needs, challenges, and personalities within our family.
When my husband and I began asking why, rather than how, we began to see that God did, indeed, have a purpose for our family, and that purpose became much clearer. When we started asking “why are we here?” we began to realize that God could use our family for gospel purposes—to shine the light of Jesus into the dark corners of the world.
Asking why guided our discipleship of our daughters and began our family on a journey of intentionally living for Christ. It gave us a vision for our family that was much bigger than what happens between the four walls of our home.
Here are a few questions that might help you formulate a vision for your family.
- What are some of the unique characteristics of your children? What are some things they have in common and how are they different?
- How can you take the unique combination of personalities, interests, passions, and needs in your family and formulate them into a gospel-centered vision for your family?
- How does the gospel influence your family’s purpose? How might thinking about your family in light of the gospel change what you’re focusing on today?
Shelly Wildman is a writer, speaker, and the author of First Ask Why: Raising Kids to Love God Through Intentional Discipleship. She is a former writing instructor, but her most important life’s work has been raising her three adult daughters. She and her husband, Brian, have been married for 33 years and live in Wheaton, IL.
FROM THE PEACEFUL WIFE
This idea that Shelly suggests is awesome. I think it would be ideal if parents sat down and formulated a family vision together and share it with their children. I LOVE Shelly’s book and the intentionality with which she and her husband parent. I also commend her approach of looking at the reasons why we do things as parents before launching off into a specific method. She has so much godly wisdom, love, and experience to share. I highly recommend her book.
I’d like to also address those wives whose husbands would not be excited about coming up with an official “family vision.”
It’s okay. If your husband doesn’t like doing things like this, or you mention it and he is not on board, that is fine. Don’t freak out. Don’t succumb to the enemy’s temptation to be bitter or angry at him for not jumping on this amazing idea. Don’t feel like he is failing you or your children. There are lots of ways to lead a family. Some people love to be extremely intentional – and that is awesome! But if your husband is not one of those people, he can still be the leader in the home, even if he has a different way of leading.
You are totally free to pray yourself to the Lord and to invite Him to share a family vision with you – and your husband if you would like to ask for that. You can share your vision with your children as their mom. Even if Dad doesn’t want to participate. I encourage you to invite God’s Spirit to work in both your husband and yourself and to be open to any way the Spirit of God wants to lead your husband. Even if it looks different from this exact plan. Even if your husband hates coming up with written goals. God can still lead you through such a man. Check out this post for inspiration.
Raise a Daughter Who Doesn’t Need to Date – by Shelly Wildman
First Ask Why – Why I Wrote the Book – by Shelly Wildman