"We give them roots, then we give them wings."
Parenting is getting more complex in our frantic world. It feels like the deck is stacked against us when we confront all the completing influences in their lives.
"Give them roots, then give them wings" is an old piece of parental wisdom. "Give them roots" is the patient task of watering and feeding for maturity. It requires time and intentionality. It necessitates years of investment.
Early childhood education tells us that the bulk of character development occurs in the first five years. We hear from youth ministry research that the substance of a belief system is formulated in a child by age 12 or 13.
So how do we "give them roots"? How do you give not only knowledge and skill, but beliefs and character?
Teaching - Set times for intentional teaching. Family devotions. Discussion questions after worship on Sunday. Read a book together. Have young children memorize the core components of our faith (Lord's Prayer, 10 Commandments, Creed).
Rituals - Not spooky, weird, or cultic rituals. Rituals are habits that communicate something important. Prayer before a meal. Family dinner time. Weekly worship. Decorations at Christmas or Easter. Volunteering at a food bank once a month. Christmas caroling in your neighborhood every year. Every ritual you have communicates a value.
Modeling - Let them simply observe what you do and how you do it. Know that they are watching. Let them see you pray, work, resolve a disagreement, handle a crisis, go shopping, volunteer, worship, fail, forgive, have fun . . . .
Just three thoughts on "giving roots." Feel free to add some more.
When you "give them roots", then you "give them wings." Every parent is raising their child to leave the house. The umbilical cord is cut. There will be a day you can't hold their hand, rescue them, or save them from a bad decision. You trust that the roots you've given them will help them to fly. And you trust the One they are rooted in.