From the time our children take their first breath, our minds fill with hopes and dreams for them. We think of all the things we can do for them to help them grow well and possibly even have more and better opportunities than we ever dreamed of having ourselves. We want to help them avoid our mistakes and build on our successes.
Hope for our children is a beautiful thing. It’s what encourages them to dream and gives wings to their desires. It’s what helps us find a way to provide those piano lessons or explore that internship option. It helps us teach them how to pray and seek the Lord’s guidance, learning that the true meaning of hope is confidence in His provision and direction.
Properly Guided Hope
Sometimes, though, in the process of hoping for our children, we ourselves lose sight of that true meaning of hope. Instead of taking action on our confidence in the Lord, we seek the mythical “better life” path for our children. If we didn’t get to go to college, we fix our minds on this grand idea that college attendance is the “better path” that our kids are destined to find. Or perhaps we were pushed to pursue a profitable career when we would have rather been allowed to follow our hearts into less lucrative but more fulfilling professions.
Our focus shifts, and suddenly the goal becomes fixed. We grow convinced that the better life we desire for our children must follow a specific path, and before we know it, we find all our energy and effort pushing us and them in that narrow direction.
How can we break free from that narrow-focused trap and get back to the true beauty of steadfast, Christ-centered hope for our children?
Listen & Learn
God made our children to be unique. Despite the jokes to the contrary, they are not our clones. Their interests may mimic ours, but they also have their own hopes and dreams. We just have to pay attention!
As your child grows, watch for the activities and interactions that make his or her face brighten. See where joy abounds. Listen to the discussion topics that she keeps coming back to. Watch for the books he devours. Pay attention to the field trips that seem most engaging or the school subjects that seem most energizing.
Our children have hopes, too, from their earliest days on through their teen and young adult years. By paying attention, we can discover their hopes and begin to equip and shape our children to engage with their hopes and dreams in a very practical way.
Practice Self Control
Often when we see an interest blossom in our child, we go overboard trying to provide opportunities to fulfill that interest. While some children thrive on the abundance of opportunity, other children become burned out and completely lose interest in something that once brought them great joy. On the other hand, providing opportunities in small doses can confirm interests while also whetting our children’s appetite for more.
Meanwhile, we can begin to teach them how to seek out opportunities for themselves. For your student who seems passionate about drama, perhaps investing long hours in community theater is a great solution. But, it could also be that encouraging your student to find a mentor, recruit a group of friends, and start a drama ministry at church could be more effective than chasing the lead role in a community play ever could.
Find a balance between providing opportunities and encouraging your children to explore creative ways to engage in their hopes and desires.
Point Back to Christ
Hope is not truly hope unless it is Christ-centered. We were made to glorify Him in all things. That is our whole purpose. We each accomplish that purpose uniquely, but it doesn’t change the fact that we were made to serve and honor Him. And so were our children.
Hope for our children always points back to that purpose. As we teach our children, watch for their interests, and provide opportunities, we must also teach them to honor Christ in everything. There is nothing more amazing than seeing the expression on children’s faces the first time they realize their greatest pleasure has brought glory to Christ. It suddenly clicks that their hope is in Someone who loves them and wants them to find joy in serving Him. That kind of hope is what can strengthen them through the toughest of challenges or the greatest of pursuits.