My shoulders had tension that no amount of yoga or deep breathing would cure, the grip on my steering wheel would undoubtedly break any stress ball, and a puddle was quickly forming beneath my sweating palms. The GPS on my phone repeated, “re-routing” over and over through the speakers of my car.
Yes, I was lost. Hopelessly, lost.
You see, I’d just moved to a big city. It was dark. I was in the middle of traffic on a bridge in an area of the city that did not look safe to stop and ask for directions. The only hope I had for the drive was that I would eventually be able to get off the bridge and park long enough to look at a map—well, cry and then look at a map.
Have you ever been that lost?
If not, I have news for you: without a vision for your kids, you will eventually end up just as lost. On my ridiculous drive, I didn’t have a destination or a vision. I was just aimlessly driving around the city to learn it better. The GPS on my phone had no way of helping me because it didn’t know where I was going. Creating a vision statement for relationships with your kids is as important as identifying a destination for your drive. You can’t expect to get anywhere if you don’t know where you want to go.
So how do you do that exactly?
First, make the vision statement kid-friendly.
When downloading a map app for my phone, I always choose the English version. Why? Because I only speak English. While there’s a chance that I could look at pictures and decipher where to go in an Arabic version of a map, any specific instructions would be entirely lost because I do not speak that language.
Yet, we expect kids to understand our grown-up jargon—and we punish them when they don’t.
When creating a vision statement for your family regarding relationships, it is essential that it uses kid-friendly language. For example, your kid-friendly vision statement might be, “God made humans to treat each other like we would want to be treated.” This statement makes sense and is easy to apply. For younger kids your statement might be, “God made us to be nice.”
A good way to determine whether your vision statement is kid-friendly is whether it can be chanted. Kids love to be silly and chant with their family. You can’t chant, “Relationships are an entity God designed to display His glory to the world.” That statement may be a good place you and your spouse to begin brainstorming, but it can’t be the final version for your kids.
In addition to chanting your kid-friendly vision statement, making a hand motion can be a fun way to help kids really learn the vision you’re casting for your family. If your vision statement is “God made us to be nice,” you could use two cupped hands moving upward for the hand motion.
Having trouble thinking of a statement, chant, or hand motion? No problem, have your kids help you! The more they are involved, the more likely they are to engage.
Second, don’t be afraid to initiate hard conversations.
The birds and the bees is without-a-doubt the conversation I hear parents worry about the most. Afterall, who wants to talk about sex with their child?
Like the dreaded sex talk, most hard conversations with children involve relationships. Whether it is explaining why the family dog can’t come back after that tear-filled vet appointment or why a kid on the playground didn’t invite them to a birthday party, each of these conversations is made difficult by the feelings surrounding relationships. Your child was designed to be in relationship with others and they are going to seek relationship with others, regardless of the instruction they receive from you.
The best way to help your children have a godly vision for relationships is to initiate the conversation first, before the kids on the playground or the Internet taints their view of relationships.
Kids on the playground might say, “my older brother told me sex is for grown-ups and is a lot of fun.” While both of those statements are true, you might prefer your children know about sex from God’s perspective before knowing that sex is fun. Let’s explore how having a vision statement for relationships can make equipping your kids with that information easier.
I’ve seen some families come up with a specific vision statement for sex. For example, “God made sex for grown-ups in marriage.” For younger kids, this can be helpful because it helps answer those questions like, “Where do babies come from?” Instead of responding with a deer-in-the-headlights look, a parent could respond by explaining that God designed babies to come from two married people having sex. For older kids, parents can use this statement to talk about how sex is purposeful but it is also pleasurable. Initiating the conversation about sex being pleasurable can help preteens and teenagers feel safer to talk to their parents about sex rather than trying to find out the pleasures of sex on their own.
Other families might be inclined to incorporate the sex vision statement into their original vision statement for relationships. For example, “God made humans to treat each other like we would want to be treated” can be a good basis for sex also. This vision statement helps begin conversations about respecting our bodies and other people’s bodies. Regarding sex, this could include, “God designed sex for marriage. With sex, we treat each other like we would want to be treated by not having sex with someone until marriage.” This can also be a good opportunity to have conversations to prevent childhood sexual abuse and talk about respecting each other’s bodies.
Finally, live out relationships the way you want your kids to relate to others.
Has your child ever said or done something completely inappropriate that you know they learned from you? You are not alone. Anyone with kids has experienced the gut-wrenching moment of their child imitating language or behavior not intended to pass on.
As you chant your vision statement, make sure that you do what the chant says. The vision statement, “God made us to be nice” means that your kids need to see you being nice to people. This statement should challenge you as much as it challenges your kids. Whether it is in heavy traffic, a long line at the grocery store, or to your spouse after a long day, let your children see what you want them to learn.
New Vision Counseling offers a unique Christian approach with proven therapy techniques. Call (405) 921-7776 today.