Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

How This Dad Made Sure His 12 Kids Paid for College Themselves

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2014 Feb 12

Francis L. Thompson and his wife managed to raise 12 children who not only all have college degrees, but who paid for their education themselves.

Most importantly, their children, ages 22 to 37, all share their parents’ values: self-respect, gratitude and a desire to give back to society.

In a recent article, Thompson shares how he and his wife accomplished such a feat. He provides a lengthy list of things he considers they “did right.” You probably won’t agree with every single item he includes, but you’ll probably agree that his advice is certainly food for thought. I hope you’ll click through and read the entire piece.

As you go through his article, you can’t help but be struck by the fact that a few themes jump out again and again.

1. From an early age, Thompson and his wife expected much of their kids. The expectations they placed on them were age-appropriate and not burdensome, but the Thompsons certainly didn’t let their kids coast through life on a steady diet of video games, TV and a “mom does everything for me” attitude. Rather, they empowered their children with knowledge and prompted them to take personal responsibility.

2. The Thompsons created an atmosphere that facilitated learning. This involved giving grace when a child made a mistake. It involved placing boundaries on how the kids spent their time. The Thompsons also provided information and resources to help their children go out and do things for themselves, instead of stepping in to directly help at every turn.

3. The couple made their children live out their values. For example, they fostered a sense of camaraderie by having the older children help their younger siblings with homework. They helped their boys and girls see the importance of “giving back” by requiring them to perform community service.

Thompson and his wife, who have been married for 40 years, have also given their kids the gift of their marriage. He writes, “I attribute the love between us as a part of our success with the children. They see a stable home life with a commitment that does not have compromises.”

Obviously, there is no set blueprint for success. Things sometimes happen that are beyond our control. Sometimes great parents have kids who, unfortunately, make poor choices and suffer the consequences.

However, I do think the “big idea” behind Thompson’s article is spot-on: as parents, we’re not called to be our kids’ best friends. Rather, we’re called to instruct them and guide them – and to raise them to know Jesus Christ.

So for all of you who fret over saying no or pushing your kids a bit, be encouraged. Your children might not appreciate what you do today, but the day will likely come when they look at you and say, “Thank you.”

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