We just celebrated my son’s first birthday, and I couldn’t help but reflect on the growth of both my son and myself throughout the last year.

I laughed when I thought back on the sleepless nights, not because my son was awake, but because I was worried that he might be.  I also remember the first time I had to take him to a doctor’s appointment, and I was completely at a loss as to how I was going to feed him and get him there on time.  I opted to feed him in the waiting room, and he cried all the way there.  I was almost in tears myself.

It’s been a long, life-changing year.  I’m amazed at the similarities between my son and me at his birth—he was new to the world, and I was new to the world of parenting.  Neither of us had a clue what we were doing.  But we’ve both grown to understand each other and perhaps even the world around us in better ways.

Since I’ve had a year to reflect, I now have an idea of what kinds of things I want to accomplish as a mom.  Recently I was inspired to write down my goals as both a reminder to myself when parenting gets tough and as a declaration.

Parenting isn’t just a manual task, making sure another person stays alive.  It’s also the shaping of a life.  In some ways, there is very little I can do to control how my children turn out—only God can change the heart and save a soul.  But I want to do all that I can to give my children, not just life, but LIFE.

Let me encourage you to do the same.  My list is somewhat haphazard, in no particular order and not very fancy.  If you try too hard to make it poetic, you might scare yourself out of doing it.  Just jot down some things and see where it leads you.  If you want to rewrite it later, you always can when you feel up to the task. The important thing now is to get it down on paper.

I’m sure my list will change as the years go on, but for now, here are my goals as a mother.

1. I want to raise children who know God and know there is a Savior.  I know I can’t control their hearts, but I can do my best to show them the way.  Deuteronomy 6:6-12 tells us to pass on the stories of God’s power and redemption to the next generation so they may not forget all that He’s done for us.

2. I want to give my children life skills.  I want them to know how to cultivate a garden, care for animals, care for themselves.  I want them to know how to care for a home—wash dishes, vacuum the floor, wash clothes, and generally pick up around the house.  I want them to know how to organize, keep a budget, and sew on a button (these go for boys and girls).

3. I want to instill godly values and disciplines in their lives—loving others, compassion, generosity, kindness, keeping their tempers, problem-solving skills (see 1 Thessalonians 5:6-11 and Galatians 5:22-23).

4. I want to teach them how to see things from others’ perspectives. When you can step into someone else’s shoes, it opens up a whole new world of perception.  It gives you compassion, empathy, understanding, and therefore, patience and graciousness.  You can more easily interpret unspoken communication and anticipate needs.  To step into someone else’s shoes gives you the ability to understand people.

5.  I want to teach my children to listen—really listen—not just hear when others are talking.  To look someone in the eye and give him or her their full attention.

6. I want to teach my children confidence and courage.  I want them to be able to stand for right and for good even in the face of opposition and be the one to stand even when no one else does.

7. I want to say “no” often enough to keep them from taking for granted all that they have.  And say “yes” often enough to teach them the satisfaction of generosity.

That’s all I have for now.  I’m sure this list will continue to grow as my children do.  But I think it’s a good start.  If for no other reason, I’m glad I wrote this because when I lose my vision as a parent and need to be set straight, I’ll have this list to guide me.  When I hit another milestone in my son’s life, I can look back on this list and make sure I’m still headed in the right direction.  And when I look back on my parenting after all my children have been launched into this world, I can be satisfied knowing that I parented them with purpose.

Won’t you do the same?

Copyright © 2009 by Sabrina Beasley McDonald. All rights reserved. Used by permission.