If you are a parent, January isn’t really the beginning of your child’s year. It’s halftime. Your family year begins in August, as the children start school and all their other activities. The question is this: What do you do with halftime?
What do coaches do with halftime? Do they take the players into the locker room and celebrate that they are almost over with the game? Do they just relax before going back on the field? No!
Leaders of the team make adjustments, and that’s exactly what the first weeks in January are for, making the necessary evaluations and adjustments for the family.
As you reflect on this past year, are there any regrets? Any parenting or family regrets? Ask yourself the question, “What would I have done differently with my children this first half of the year?” What got away from you?
As you review the first half (and you must), was there too much in your family schedule, or was it just not enough of the best stuff? January is the time to change the second half. Chances are it was a little of both: being too busy, and not making the best use of the year.
Begin by looking at the end of the game. In the years or months to come, when you are dropping your children off at a college campus, what do you want to make sure they know?
I have to say that there are few parents who wish they had spent more time honing a child’s soccer skills. I’ve never heard parents say that they were disappointed that their child went off to college and walked away from soccer. None has said to me that college so overwhelmed their child that the child dropped a sport from his or her schedule.
Over and over, parents have asked me, “What did you do with your children to keep their faith intact while they were in college?” My response has been, “Both of my children actually grew their faith while they were away in college.”
One of the most basic things that we must do is decide that the development of the child’s faith is important enough to make it onto the calendar. Second, is it as important as seeing to it that a child brushes his or her teeth each day? If it is, and it is, then we need to put spiritual development on the calendar each day.
Some people get up early each morning to work out. Instead, choose to go into the second half getting up early each morning to work out the salvation of your children. Paul challenges us to work out the salvation God has placed in us when we come to Christ (Philippians 2:12). Helping your children work their salvation into their daily lives takes time each morning. Get the family discipline to eat breakfast together at a table. While the children are eating, take a few minutes to read a few verse from the Bible, and then spend the remainder of breakfast talking together about what you just read. Finish breakfast with prayer.
At the end of each day, sit on the side of the bed with each child, and pray with them before they go to sleep. Ask them what you can pray for them. Guide their pray concerns, and remind them later of answered prayers.
Paul told his “children” at the Philippians’ church that they did what they needed to do when he was with them. Now he was challenging them to continue to work Christ into the center of their lives when he wasn’t with them. In our case, we need to apply this when our children are away at college.
This is halftime. Don’t go back out and play the same game during the second half. Make the adjustments. Go for the win. When you drop your child off at college, you’ll be able to say, “I’m glad I did!” rather than “I wish I had!”
Dr. Robert Barnes is the president of Sheridan House Family Ministries. He and his wife, Rosemary, are authors and speakers on marriage and family issues.