As our four children have gotten older, they have been faced with various choices at various ages. Our oldest son who is 16 is currently looking and praying about where to attend college, how to navigate relationships with the opposite sex, and how to manage and budget his own finances. It’s honestly somewhat exciting as a parent to see him thinking through and making wise choices because we know that those choices are going to help him develop a good foundation for the rest of his life.
Choices… they’re the stuff that life is made of. They will either make a person or break them. They have the potential to cause much joy or much regret. They can become a person’s greatest asset or their greatest liability. This is true for us as adults, and it is especially true for our children. As your kids navigate the world of options placed before them, here are three tools you can give to them while they’re still young to help them make wise life-choices.
1. A Conscience
Jiminy Cricket got it right when he said to Pinocchio, “Let your conscience be your guide.” Your child has been created with a conscience for a reason —to be an internal and instinctive guide to help them make wise choices. A healthy and engaged conscience is a key area of growth that needs to be developed with every child at a young age. Because just as a healthy conscience can be a springboard for life-long success, a seared conscience has the ability to lead any person to self-destruction. Help develop your child’s conscience by encouraging them to recognize it and respond to it when making decisions.
2. A Compass
While some people would consider their conscience to be their compass, I believe that our children need something more absolute as a moral compass than just their conscience alone. Our children need a compass that will guide their decisions based upon unchanging values and principles, not based upon the whims of culture, or simply what they feel is right in the heat of the moment. They need something that points them to ‘True North’ with every important choice that they make. For our family, this is the Bible, which tells us in Proverbs to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I believe God expects us as parents to intentionally instill a moral compass within our children.
3. A Coach
In addition to their conscience and their compass, our children need a coach or sometimes many of them. First and foremost, this would be you, their parent. You are to be their #1 leader and coach in life. But this could also include family members, teachers, or other mentors who you recruit or allow to reinforce your values by being a second voice in your child’s life. Children need personal guidance to make good choices. And the younger they are, the more coaching they need. As they age, if we have coached them well in the early years, we are able to coach them from more of a distance in the later years, and joyfully watch them learn to transition into future coaches themselves.
Sound off: Which of these three tools do you currently need to focus on most?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Are there any decisions you’re facing that I can help you with right now?”