A Habit of Effective Parenting

Start With a Vision of Your Goal

In Stephen Covey’s landmark work, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he listed the characteristics or behaviors of effective people. In the book, he collated the behaviors of effective people into seven maxims that he said were the habits that lead to success.  One of the habits he describes is, “Start with the end in mind.”

That habit involves setting goals or looking to the final end before beginning an endeavor. It also involves “starting” or “working now” towards that end. I believe that concept is worth keeping before us. It is a common sense proverb or maxim that is unfortunately very uncommon.  We are often held captive to the tyranny of the urgent, or motivated to act by the next popular thing. There are occasions in my life that I have had to admit that I have not given any thought to why I am doing what I’m doing or even thought whether what I am doing is moving me towards my goal or any goal. I suspect there are at least a few of you who could admit the same.

This habit of starting with the end in mind is helpful in every aspect of life; however, it is especially important in our role as a parent and as educators. When we do what we do as a parent, do we review our goals for our children? Do we have goals for our children? When we look at the inappropriate behavior or bad attitudes of our children, do we set goals to teach and correct those behaviors or do we just hope they will pass? Or worse, do we react because we are irritated?  Do we parent our six year old with a vision for their life at 12? Or for when they are18 years old? In other words, are we doing now the kinds of things that will ensure they become the kind of young adult we hope for?

Help to Achieve that End

In 2004 several like-minded parents met to consider the proposition that we ought to establish a Christian and classical school in Mebane. Part of that discussion was shaped by our realization that we ought to begin with the end in mind, that is, if our project is to help parents develop well-educated children, we must first look to the end. Our first questions were not, “Where are we going to get desks?” or even “What kind of curriculum should we purchase?” Our first discussions focused on the image of a high school graduate.  We asked, “What do we want our children to look like as they go off to college?”

Of course, our highest goal is that our children would become faithful followers of Christ and that they would serve Him. Ultimately, we wanted our children to make significant contributions to the Kingdom of God and to be a blessing to our community and this Republic.

So with that END in MIND, what should we be doing? What things should characterize a school that would help us achieve that end? How can a school assist parents in their duty to nurture children towards the greatest goals? These are some of the ideas we have been tossing around. As a school we should develop …

  • A context for loving and serving Christ in all areas of life
  • Biblical Literacy {Knowledge and understanding of Scriptures and doctrine.}
  • Love of learning {healthy curiosity}
  • Strong work ethic {hard work, time management, discipline}
  • Leadership potential {ability to speak, interview, debate, make decisions, etc.}
  • Creativity {skill and appreciation in the fine arts, written expression, problem solving, etc.}
  • Strong mind {ability to reason, exercise discernment}
  • Emotional Integrity {ability to rule over emotions and bring feelings in line with reality}
  • Literate {exposure to the canon of GREAT BOOKS and ideas, esp. in historical context}
  • Historical and Scientific Literacy {love of God’s works of creation and providence}
  • Interpersonal skills {empathy, compassion, kindness, communication}
  • Competence with numbers {concrete and abstract concepts, finance}
  • Sense of stewardship {of person and resources, physical fitness}

We then asked, “What do we need to do now to get to that ideal?”  These are the thoughts that feed our teaching, our nurturing, our discipline, and all the activities we call “raising and educating children.” Let me encourage every parent to take some time to consider your goals and activities.  Do you have parenting goals? Are you doing now the things that will lead to those ends?  We pray that Bradford Academy will be a blessing and an aid to many families as we educate with the highest “end in mind.”