Sometimes I wish I had a million dollars in cash and could buy all the clothes and makeup I want. Sometimes I wish I could fly to Paris just any old time I feel like it—maybe this weekend. Sometimes I wish I had tan skin, no spider veins, and really firm thighs. None of these is even remotely likely to happen, but it doesn’t really matter, because they are just passing wishes, not things I’ve longed for and worked hard to attain. Without any disrespect to the Real Housewives of any major city, these are not worthwhile goals, and I would be devastated if I were to discover that any of my children had devoted their lives to such empty pursuits.
In order to influence the decisions your children will ultimately make as to the lives they will lead and the things they will give themselves to,—and yes, it is not only possible but important to do this—you must intend to do it. That means you can’t just give birth and hope for the best. It doesn’t even mean you can provide the “best” of everything and assume things will turn out well.
We know what life is like, don’t we? That’s where maternal hand-wringing often comes in, as we begin contemplating the things our little ones will one day face, and recognizing the sometimes crushing sense of inadequacy that seems to accompany motherhood. After all, what’s to prevent my children from destroying their lives and breaking my heart? How can I be sure that everything will be okay?
Well, I can’t; I can’t prevent every possible negative eventuality, and though I do believe that God will work all things for my good and His glory, experience has taught me that attempts to control outcomes for my idea of “okay” generally just mess things up.
But I can take the opportunity right now to pour myself and everything I believe in and love into my child. The way things are designed, children really do love their parents and want to be like them! They watch and imitate what they see, and they respond to our instruction, both verbal and non-verbal. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they always act as though they’re paying attention or even act like they like us, but our influence is stronger than any other.
Tell your children how much you love being outdoors, reading stories, and beautiful colors; tell him what happened to you when you got in trouble as a child, and what the consequences were. Teach him to make eye contact and to put his toys away, and what a well-vacuumed carpet looks like. Don’t ever imagine that your thoughts and words don’t matter to him, or that you have nothing worth saying.
This—this is something worth devoting yourself to, worth investing yourself in. You can’t predict the future, you can’t determine happiness for your children or yourself, and you can’t even know whether or not the next decision you make is going to be the “right” one. Hey, you can’t even keep from getting spider veins! But you can be true to what and whom you believe and love—and if you share this with your child, he will believe and love those same things.