Ahhh . . . the best laid plans of mice and men and stars-in-their-eyes children.
That’s how the saying goes, right?
I’ve got one kid who swears he’s gonna fight bad guys while we sleep and another who plans to rocket to Mars when he grows up. They don’t know why they need to go to school or do chores, but they’re ready to tend a garden and bake a cake and drive a tractor—no help needed from us adults.
The dreams are there. The tenacity, ever present. It’s the follow-through I’m worried about.
Wanna know why? Because it’s the follow-through that I struggle with too.
This month, we’re talking about commitment: Making a plan and putting it into practice. Making plans is easy. It’s fun. It’s exciting! Practice? Not so much.
But you and I both know that it’s in the practice that we learn and grow and develop confidence. It’s through the repetition of hard work that things become easy. And it’s in those little steps—of daily practice—that dreams are realized.
So let’s challenge ourselves in the area of commitment this month. Want to?
Take some time to consider the dreams you have for yourself, your children, and for your family as a whole.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Maybe you’d like to commit to family dinners on a more regular basis—once a week, twice a week, or even every weeknight.
- Perhaps you have a goal with a physical component—run that marathon, go on a backpacking trip, join a tennis league, take hikes with your family.
- Maybe you’re hoping to advance your career, start a new business, or work fewer hours.
- Perhaps you’d like to do a better job sharing your values with your kids, encouraging their faith or being more available to answer tough questions.
- Maybe you want the whole family to engage in fun, quality time together—a chance for everyone to laugh and connect.
Jot down your thoughts and talk about them with your family. Share your process as you move from idea to plan to practice to fruition. Your example sets the stage for your kids to follow!
For instance, let’s say you’d like to run in an upcoming local race. Tell your family, “I’m going to run in a race this summer!” Allow your kids to join in your excitement. Then make a plan. Decide when and how you’ll train.
Share your plans with the family and, as you head out the door for a run, make an announcement, “Going for my run—just like I planned to!”
When race week arrives, invite your hype crew along. Say to your kids, “Wow! I can hardly believe the day is almost here. I’ve wanted to do this for so long and I’m glad I made a plan and stuck to it. Some days were really tough, but it sure feels worth it now!”
After you finish the race and the celebration ends, share what you learned from the experience. And be sure to ask your kids a pivotal question: “What do you dream about doing?”
Listen as they talk. Along the way, remind your kids that some dreams are big—like running a race!—and some dreams are small, like eating dinner together each night. But they both hold big value.
With a short list of dreams in hand, talk about how your kids can put a plan into practice in order to see their dreams come to life. Share your own dreams for your kids too, and discuss how they can add those practices to the mix as well.
Ask questions like:
- How can you work toward your mission to Mars?
- How can you practice having a good and healthy relationship with others?
- How can you best prepare yourself to make the team?
- How can you practice talking to and hearing from God?
- How can you show your readiness to get and care for a pet?
Above all, remind your kids that commitment really does come down to the art of repetitive practice. That might mean trying again when they make a mistake or asking for help if they get stuck along the way.
Luckily, they’ve got you—setting the example and leading the way!