Written by monthly contributing writer, Trina Holden
It all started with a mowhawk. Maybe I was finally tuning into my inner rebel. Maybe I wanted to prove to my son that how he wore his hair would never affect our relationship. After all, hair doesn’t really matter that much, does it? Whatever the reason, instead of buzzing all his hair short for summer, I left a strip on the top long, and showed him how we would mowhawk it next time we went out. It was cute and fun, and — I thought — entirely harmless.
Then came a conversation with my wise father-in-law over a family campfire later that month. I did a really brave (or stupid) thing, and asked him what he thought of how we were doing as parents to his grandchildren. I was not surprised when he mentioned the mowhawk. I tried to brush it off, to explain that it really wasn’t that big a deal. Jesse hadn‘t seemed to care much — it was pretty much a non event. But then Dad said something that opened my eyes to what I had been blind to. It wasn’t the mowhawk, or just the mowhawk that was the problem. He had observed that I had a tendency to put too much emphasis on physical appearance, and that giving my son a special hair cut at age 4 could be significantly affecting his blueprint in regards to his outward appearance.
What on earth is a Blueprint? We all have one – it’s the mindset that shapes our thoughts and actions for all of life. Blueprints are set at a young age, often by a child’s first impressions on an issue. Many believe 5 years is the end of the first phase of childhood, and that life-long blueprinting has been cemented by this time. Biblical evidence backs up this theory. Moses was weaned at age 5 and left his home and his people, but he never forgot who he was. Samuel was also 5 when his mother left him in the care of Eli. She must have done well in training him in those first 5 years — he certainly didn’t become the Godly leader he was by following Eli‘s example. Our blueprint affects our choices about money, health, entertainment, relationships, self, God, and more.
After my conversation with my father-in-law I was suddenly sobered by the idea that the season of blueprinting my son was drawing to a close - he would be five at the end of the summer. We hadn’t even started school yet, but he had absorbed so much. What did he already believe about life? His future decisions would be based on which impressions and examples he had received in these first years? And what was I subconsciously impressing on his little sister and younger brother? Now that I was aware of the process, what could I be doing to give them a more Godly, balanced blueprint? I quickly became aware of so many areas in which I needed to become more intentional.
- Self-worth Does my child get accepted and receive fellowship when he does good, and degraded or shunned when he fails? This can create a driven perfectionist who believes their worth is in their accomplishments. I need to affirm verbally and with actions that he is loved unconditionally.
- Body Image Am I putting too much emphasis on the physical appearance? I love to dress my kids and keep their hair tidy, but I need to be cautious of how much fanfare I create over their appearance. Overemphasizing beauty or looks can confuse the message that their heart is what matters most.
- Technology Does my child see that the internet is a tool, or that it takes priority over relationship with him? My generation knows that we can live without the internet and cell phones, because we did until the last two decades. But he won’t have a vision for the proper role of technology in his media-saturated world unless I exemplify balance.
- God Does my child know that God is alive, personal, and loves him? Not unless I am living authentically before him – exemplifying and explaining prayer, repentance, humility, and the sanctifying power of the gospel will he have a blueprint that will guide him to a personal relationship with Christ.
Rather than feeling overwhelmed and fearful at the significant impact my every action can have on my son’s future, I’m excited and humbled by the opportunity to give him a strong foundation in things that are eternally significant. It drives me to go before God regularly to make sure I’m getting my own blueprint re-aligned with God’s view of me. May we be as intentional with what our children absorb outside the classroom as we are with the concrete lessons of reading and writing.