The other night we met a woman struggling to hold on to her teenage son. He’s in his senior year, plays varsity football, and has the typical hit-the-floor running, teenage schedule. As we talked, she shared her concerns and feelings of failure. Over the years, life had gotten in the way, and she desperately wanted a do-over.  She had one year left. One year to pour into this young man’s life. One year to share her faith. One year to connect with his heart. But after a decade of touch-and-go conversations, it wasn’t going to be easy. And as I watched her wipe the tears from her eyes, I was reminded afresh how little time Steve and I have before our princess leaves for college. In five years, I won’t be there to remind her to pray, or read her Bible. We won’t be able to sit on the couch sifting through the events of her day together. She’ll be on her own, with only her values to fall back on. The question will be: have those values penetrated her heart deep enough to hold her up when everything else falls apart? When I think of all the habits, attitudes, and ideas necessary for successful living, there is no time for casual parenting.

With that in mind, I’ll train, even when I get an eye-roll. I’ll connect, even when it feels like I’m chasing the wind. I’ll look past the occasional scowl or mumbled retort and keep my eye on the goal.

Some questions to ponder:

Actions are motivated by attitudes. What attitudes would you like your child or grandchild to adopt and how can you facilitate that process?

Everything we do creates habits. Accidental or casual living often creates negative habits. Purposeful living often creates positive habits. The best way to eliminate negative habits is to replace them with positive. What negative habits have you unintentionally formed in your child or grandchild. What positive habits would you like to see them develop and what steps can you take to see that happen?

What are your core values and how can you demonstrate those values to your child? Are you actively teaching your values to your child/grandchild or are you hoping they’ll adopt them via osmosis?