In the journey of parenthood, the words we find in Psalm 127:3-5 bring a unique perspective to raising children. The metaphor of children as arrows in a warrior's hands carries two important implications, offering valuable guidance for parents as they navigate the complexities of parenting.
When we think of an arrow, what's its primary purpose? It's designed to fly, to leave the bow, and reach a destination. Instead of merely focusing on the present, parenting with the end in mind means considering the future. You're not raising a child; you're raising an adult. This small but significant shift in perspective encourages parents to ask themselves: "Where do I want my children to end up? What kind of relationship do I hope to have with them when they're older?"
There's valuable wisdom we can learn from this metaphor about how to raise an adult.
How to raise an adult
Our goal as parents is not just to shepherd our children through their childhood but to equip them for adulthood. We're setting the stage for a thriving relationship when they're adults. Parenting is about aligning our efforts with the future you envision for your family. Here’s what the metaphor of archery can teach us about how to raise an adult:
Find your target
Imagine an archer without a clear target. If you don't know where you're aiming, you won't know where to point your bow. Similarly, in parenting, understanding your target – the kind of adults you hope to nurture – is essential. It's not enough to just raise children; you want to raise adults who have a strong, loving relationship with you.
This target-oriented approach involves setting your parenting priorities. You must reflect on who you desire God to shape your children into as adults and what type of relationship you wish to have with them when they're 30 years old. This process of planning and intentionality is crucial for guiding your children toward a positive future.
The bow determines the direction
As a parent, you are the bow in this metaphor. The bow sets the arrow up for the trajectory it will follow. The direction you aim your children in is determined by the boundaries you set.
Some parents may focus too much on love, providing endless affection and support without establishing necessary boundaries. While this approach may seem nurturing, it often leaves children unprepared for the world beyond the family. They might lack guidance, structure, and the understanding of limits that exist in real life.
On the other hand, some parents may be overly strict with boundaries, emphasizing rules and discipline without offering the warmth and acceptance of love. In such cases, children grow up knowing the guardrails but might wonder if they are genuinely loved and accepted. This approach can create tension and emotional distance.
Send them farther with your words
The importance of words in parenting is evident. Words serve as the bow that points our children in a particular direction. Our words can either build our kids up or tear them down, heal their wounds, or inflict pain.
Solomon, who later penned the Proverbs, knew the significance of words as he wrote, "The tongue can bring death or life" (Proverbs 18:21). In parenting, our words propel our children toward the future we envision for them. They have the power to instill life and purpose, but they also have the potential to harm and hinder.
As parents, we must recognize that we are shaping our children's destinies with every word we speak, every boundary we set, and every act of love we express. Our role is to launch them into the world with a strong foundation, equipped to make decisions and forge their own paths. By having a clear target in mind and balancing love and limits, we can aim our arrows with precision, nurturing strong, enduring relationships with our children that continue to thrive as they become adults.
In the end, we shouldn’t just wonder how to raise a child, but how to raise an adult who will one day have the freedom to choose their path. Start with the end in mind and parent with intention, for it is through these choices that our arrows will find their way to the intended destination.
Parenting is a tough journey, but a rewarding one – and we want to come alongside you every step of the way as you raise kids that will grow up to love and follow Jesus. We’ve gathered some more parenting resources to equip you:
What to Do When You Don’t Agree With Your Adult Child’s Decisions
Discovering Your Family’s Mission, Values, and Purpose
What to Do When Parenthood Isn’t What You Expected
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