"Without a vision, the people perish."

These timeless words from the Bible have inspired mankind throughout the ages, reminding us of the necessity to think about the future and our role in it. As a parent, it's easy to forget the vision part as we are caught up in the "tyranny of the urgent" and the day-to-day challenges of raising children.

Many overwhelmed parents institute a bunch of rules and routines to help get through each day. But don't mistake having a list of "dos" and "don'ts" for parenting - it's more like policing. Having rules without telling our children what they mean in context of their future can leave them feeling frustrated and angry. Worse still, living a legalistic life can result in emptiness. Yes, your children should obey you just because you "said so", but parenting also involves inspiring them to do so.

Today's culture teaches our kids to live for the moment, to fulfill selfish desires and cravings, and says very little about who - not just what - they should become. No one is inspiring and encouraging our children to become adults whose lives are marked by strong moral character, goodness, truth and joy. We need to set the vision clearly before them - and you can't do that with just a set of rules. If you don't thoughtfully connect your rules with how they help your children have a beautiful, meaningful life, you have missed the opportunity to raise sons and daughters of purpose.

Write a vision statement for each of your children. This doesn't mean you are telling them WHAT you want them to be, rather, it's WHO you want them to become.

Nothing creates more happiness and hope in a young heart than knowing that mom and dad believe you are capable of greatness.

Take the time to inspire your children by sharing your vision of a bright future for their lives. Let them know that you want them to be marked by integrity, fidelity, love and compassion for others. Tell them that you are committed to them, and that you will do everything in your power to help them become a man or woman of grace and strength.

I was blessed to have a mom and dad who taught me that if I worked hard, sought God daily, and lived with integrity, the sky was the limit. They inspired me to believe that I could reach for the stars and actually touch them. And they also reminded me that the most important thing in life was to be the woman that God created me to be. Being conscious of those visions at a young age helped me understand the importance of making wise choices and of following their rules. It's sort of like knowing that a key purpose of the Ten Commandments is to cause us to live in harmony with God and our fellow man. When we understand the wonderful vision, the list suddenly makes sense and becomes easier and even fulfilling to keep.

When we teach our children to dream, hope, and plan for a beautiful future, we are helping to make that dream a reality. When they can see our own hopes and dreams for their lives, then our daily rules start making sense.

And there's an added bonus that comes with talking to your child about the value of having and holding on to a vision of loveliness: it will help keep that vision clear for your own life too.


Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family. Visit her website at www.HowToSaveYourFamily.com. where you can sign up to receive her free e-newsletter containing the Culture Challenge of the Week and how to fight back. Hagelin is also senior communications fellow for The Heritage Foundation.