How to Come Up With Your Parenting Game Plan

You wouldn’t build a house without blueprints, but many of us approach parenting as a day-to-day task without “drawing up” what the finished product, our adult child, should look like. The unintended consequence is that we are easily distracted from the fundamental goals and stressed out by things that may be pretty meaningless in the final analysis.

So how do you map out what you want to instill in your child’s heart and mind? It starts with looking at your core values, those non-negotiable things that you want your child to embrace or possess above all else.

1. Hierarchy. You can get a good start on this process by prioritizing those things that you think most important in life. Do you think that your spiritual life or relationship with God is the fundamental thing that drives your other values? If so, this would be number one on the list. Just under that would likely be character or integrity, then maybe valuing family relationships, etc. Why is it important to rank these things—all of which are good—in a particular order? Because that order will provide clarity in the moments where things seem to conflict or collide.

[The Success Illusion]

2. Plan for Training. It’s not enough for you to simply believe these things are important for your child to learn. You must have a plan for how they are going to learn them. If it’s spiritual values, the plan might include church attendance and family devotions. If it’s character traits like honesty or kindness, the training plan will include lots of modeling of these values by you, along with other practical methods of practicing them with your child. Teaching your child a strong work ethic will likely involve rewarding good effort and allowing your child to suffer the consequences of poor effort.

3. Execute and Evaluate. As you work your “plan” for teaching your children what you want them to know, you’ll encounter other challenges or areas of need to address. So, sit down with your spouse regularly to assess where you are with each child in the important areas and evaluate which training methods seem to be effective. While the core values won’t change, the ways of teaching them likely will. What works with one child might be ineffective with another. Don’t be afraid to back up and try a new angle.

[Strengths and Struggles Assessment]

4. Seek Advice from Veterans. Is there a family in your church or school whose older children exhibit many of the character traits you’d like to see in your own one day? Don’t be afraid to ask them how they did it! Other moms and dads will be encouraged that their parenting has yielded good outcomes that are obvious to others, and will be glad to share what they learned along the way.

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