By Darcie Tallman
It had been a long day and I was sitting outside my three year-old daughter’s bedroom door. She recently decided she wasn’t going to sleep in a crib anymore. I was wary and checking my email while sitting on the hallway floor waiting to get up for the umpteenth time to put her back in bed. That’s when I received a message from Nannet asking if I could read a couple articles she had recently written for her blog, Domestic Church Institute. As soon as I read her first article, Shaping Plan: 4 Areas of Growth in the Domestic Church, I felt the Holy Spirit talking to me. I read it once, then again and again. I encouraged my husband, Paul, to read it. I went back to pray and began meditating on this idea of creating goals for our children that helps them grow holistically. I felt excited and instantly began thinking how we could incorporate this into our family.
My husband and I have always talked about ways we could help our children with various challenges and implemented things we wanted to incorporate to teach them about Jesus and our faith. However, we had never formalized that process to the extent of establishing annual goals written in a notebook that address four areas of formation: spiritual, moral/character, intellectual, and practical skills.
Brainstorming Goals For Our Children
During a recent date night, Paul and I began the process by brainstorming the many goals we had for our children in each of these areas. For example, for spiritual formation, we discussed things like establishing a personal prayer life, learning how to do a daily examen, keeping a prayer notebook, learning prayers/scripture, going to Adoration, reading the Youcat and other spiritual books. For moral/character formation, we discussed the topics of sharing, being a good friend, obedience, giving of self, service opportunities, and leadership skills. For intellectual, we talked about practicing more math skills, reading time, organization and time management. Finally, some of the practical skills included learning to cook meals, doing the laundry, folding clothes and setting the table.
From that list, we considered each of our children, their ages and their strengths and weaknesses to determine what unique goals we wanted to prioritize during this year.
It was neat to see the kids excited as we sat down individually to present them with their own notebook and discuss their goals. It was an awesome opportunity to affirm each of them and challenge them to continue growing in these areas as we strive to grow in holiness.
Our Role Now
Paul and I will now need to find many ways they can practice these goals. We’ll begin joining them in prayer at the beginning until they understand how to pray and develop a personal prayer life with Jesus. We’ll put our younger ones in a variety of situations where they can practice sharing. We’ll bring our older kids with us more consistently to weekly Adoration. We’ll definitely be sure to give our nine year-old lots of laundry practice and hopefully our youngest will quickly master the skill of staying in her big bed. Well, we can hope for a miracle, right?!
We’ve just started to implement the ideas from Nannet’s blog post. Paul and I have already noticed that the time we spend individually modeling and guiding prayer has provided opportunities to learn more about each child and their memorable experiences from the day. We’ve been surprised at how it’s made a significant difference in our relationship with our children in such a short amount of time.