The Care and Feeding of Healthy Kids and Grandkids – Dr. John Townsend
The Care and Feeding of Healthy Kids and Grandkids
John Townsend, Ph.D.
Families of means are tasked with not one, but two legacies: your children (and grandkids) and your resources. This was part of God’s structure from the beginning, when He gave these two directives to Adam and Eve: “’Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…” (Gen.1:28). You want your kids to take their roles in filling the earth with God’s love and truth and their own passions and skills. You also want to help Him subdue the workings of the earth with your own resources and assets.
So how do you accomplish the first part, making great kids who will be part of this legacy? There is a great deal of confusion and misdirection on this in our current culture. But God has created a growth structure with clear directions that can help every Gathering parent, no matter whether your kids or grandkids are 1 or 31.
There are 6 skills every young person must have, in order to meet the demands of reality that are ahead of them. Ultimately, parenting is about the future, not about today. So do your best to help them acquire these skills and good things will happen. Here is the overview, based on concepts from Henry Cloud’s and my book “Raising Great Kids”:
1. Connectedness. God designed us all to be connected in head and heart to others. Kids and young people need to experience what a transparent and authentic relationship is, in order to be healthy and avoid attachment disorders and alienation. When they have a hard time with relationship, their lives suffer: “But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Eccles. 4:10).
2. Responsibility. Life requires taking ownership of our lives, time and energy. Kids need to be helped in taking responsibility for their actions, and in being able to handle the “no” of a parent. Without this skill, they run the risk of behavioral issues and underachievement: “For each one should carry their own load” (Gal. 6:5).
3. Reality. Unfortunately, we don’t raise children in a perfect world. Our kids are let down by others, they let others down, and they let themselves down. Successful families help their kids to not only win and hit the home runs of life, but also to face tough realities and deal with imperfections in themselves and others. Otherwise, kids run the risk of becoming perfectionists and self-judging people: “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” (Heb. 12:2).
4. Competence. God designed us to find, develop and express our gifts and talents to make the world a better place, in career, job and service activity. This means kids need to learn what they are good at, and just as importantly, to learn a work ethic and how to roll up their sleeves and focus on task completion. Without this skill, they often suffer dissatisfaction and lack of direction in their careers: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Col. 3:23).
5. Morality. Life requires a way to make decisions on a biblical system of morality. Kids will have to deal with financial, ethical, personal and cultural complexities. Help them have a way to think on these matters: “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord” (Psa. 119:1).
6. Spirituality. God has no grandchildren. Part of parenting is to model, teach and guide our kids to receiving Christ’s salvation, growing in grace, and following God’s direction. There are ways to help your kids, no matter their age, find and follow the Lord: Walk the walk, and talk the talk: “…bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
The family is an oven, with all the right ingredients to create a great adult out of a great kid. Construct your oven to have these 6 ingredients.
If you want more practical info on how to execute the 6 ingredients, I’ll see you at the Gathering Conference in Orlando this September. I will be conducting a breakout session on providing the hands-on tools and takeaways involved, no matter what your kids’ ages and stages. God bless you and see you at the Conference!