Cash Family “Age 18 List” for our kids

(Grab a drink and a comfy chair; this is my longest post yet – but probably the one I’ve been the most excited about so far!)

Cash Family “Age 18 List” for our kids

by Nick & Dianna Cash, based on the fantastic instructions found in Dr. Matt Freideman’s Discipleship in the Home

“You can’t make a disciple if you haven’t clarified what one looks like.” -Dr. Matt Friedeman – husband, father of six, and Professor of Discipleship at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, MS

Earlier this month, I was challenged by one of my seminary professors to define exactly what is meant by “a disciple”.  He challenged our class to write down in vivid detail what we think the life of a disciple “looks like”, and then to begin thinking through the implications that description would have on how we would parent our children.

Prior to receiving this pointed challenge, I would’ve said with an honest heart that Dianna and I have been investing in our children’s spiritual growth and doing our best (though far from perfectly!) to model Christ-likeness in our home.

Had you asked me to describe my “goal” in parenting our kids in this way, I would’ve fumbled through a nebulous, unclear, disjointed picture of their future…

Huhm.  Well… I… uh… I want them to be… confident in who God has made them to be… and… uhm… emotionally stable and… compassionate and courteous… uhhh…  (looks down) let’s see now… uh, wise and discerning in their decisions… and – oh! – smart with their money – yeah, financially smart… and uh… they’d love God and… uhm live for Him………(shrugs?)

I had never thought about actually putting a detailed, written plan in place for my kids’ personal and spiritual development!  I came home from that course with pages of notes, scribbles of lists, and a super-excited heart!  I shared all that I had been challenged by with Dianna, and her face lit up: “this is all the kind of stuff I’ve wanted us to do for our kids, but never really felt like we knew how to make happen!”

We went straight to work.  The list we produced is rough and brand-new, and I’m sure it will evolve with implementation.  I’m also sure we won’t get it right all the time, and we’ll probably realize things we forgot to include as we go.  But as Dr. Friedeman said, “The best time to plant an apple orchard is 20 years ago; the next best time is now.”

For Dianna and I, our number one responsibility and charge as parents is to disciple our children; setting forth a written action plan for doing so has us SO excited!  I offer it here for any parent looking to do the same – not as a formula, but as a template.  Each family, each household – indeed each child – is unique.  You can take this and tailor your own “Age 18 List” for your kids around your family’s core values.

You may disagree with some of the things on our list; you may see obvious things missing.  Ours isn’t the master edition – it’s just what we’ve come up with in the past few days to start parenting our kids now with a more vivid and clear end-goal in mind.

We’ve broken our list down by life categories, our hopes for our kids in each category (by age 18), and the implications that each of those hopes has on how we will need to parent them between now and then:

Cash Family “Age 18 List” for our kids

Life Category: Relationship with God

Hopes for our Kids, by Age 18:

  • has a Biblically-sound faith that is real and that is their own
  • deeply in love with Jesus and filled with His Spirit
  • consistently spends time alone with God
  • knows God’s voice – able to listen to and respond to Him – knows God’s Word

Parenting Implications:

  • everyday, we will: worship God, read the Bible, pray Biblical prayers, and memorize &/or recite Biblical passages & prayers – together, as a family
  • teach our children a simple catechism of Bible-based theological literacy by age 10
  • model personal devotional habits ourselves, in our home
  • proactively teach them regular devotional habits; help them schedule time for this consistently
  • openly & regularly talk about God, faith, what we are learning & hearing, and how we are being challenged & growing

Life Category: Emotional Health

Hopes for our Kids, by Age 18:

  • emotionally healthy, strong, open, and resilient
  • secure in who they are – humbly confident
  • positive, not complainers

Parenting Implications:

  • model healthy, Biblical conflict resolution before them in our marriage & in other life situations
  • teach them their identity in Christ and constantly reinforce it with our words & actions towards them
  • zero tolerance for whining or complaining; teach them how to voice their opinions in a positive, constructive manner

Life Category: Relationships with People

Hopes for our Kids, by Age 18:

  • supportive, lifelong friendships with their siblings
  • common courtesy is second nature; strong sense of proper etiquette
  • cultivate a life of gratitude toward God, family, teachers / leaders, & service providers (cashiers, waiters, postman, janitors, garbage men, etc.)
  • enjoys interaction with all age levels
  • loyal, healthy, mutually-beneficial friendships
  • truthful, honest, able to speak the truth in love
  • able to handle peer pressure with maturity & integrity
  • a heart of active compassion toward the powerless

Parenting Implications:

  • help kids proactively solve conflicts together
  • teach courtesy and demand it in all situations
  • Nick teach & demonstrate gentlemanly etiquette to show Eli what to do and to show Caroline & Emma what to expect; Dianna teach & demonstrate lady-like etiquette to C&E
  • model a life of gratitude for them by thanking everyone for everything, all the time!
  • provide regular interactions with people of all ages – actively teach them how to speak with and relate to people of all ages
  • interactions with peers are closely monitored and are openly & regularly discussed & evaluated
  • actively engaged in a ministry to the powerless as a family

Life Category: Decision-Making / Problem-Solving

Hopes for our Kids, by Age 18:

  • trained in learning & researching, reading & writing
  • able to find & evaluate all options before making a decision
  • able to engage problems & conflicts creatively, courageously, and positively
  • able to see a choice’s logical conclusion before making it – planning ahead

Parenting Implications:

  • model regular reading, writing, & lifelong learning in our own lives
  • help our kids navigate large & small decisions by facilitating their research & evaluation of all available options
  • encourage creative & unconventional solutions to problems
  • engage them in conflict-resolution & problem-solving with patience, positivity, honesty, & courage

Life Category: Purity

Hopes for our Kids, by Age 18:

  • modest in dress, speech, attitudes, behavior, lifestyle, etc. (but also have a personal “style” that is their own!)
  • free from the emotional scarring that often comes from years of unhealthy dating
  • a clear picture in mind of what a Godly, lifelong spouse looks like
  • sexually pure at the point of marriage

Parenting Implications:

  • model modesty and teach them appropriate dress, speech, behavior, etc. from an early age
  • encourage personal uniqueness & creativity in “stylish modesty”(!)
  • model for them what a Godly, peaceful, secure, lifelong marriage looks like
  • teach them healthy Biblical sexuality from an early age
  • mdel modesty and teach them appropriate dress, speech, behavior, etc. from an early age; encourage personal uniqueness & creativity
  • give each child some kind of special purity marker at age 12
  • discourage recreational dating; teach & encourage courtship

Life Category: Physical Health

Hopes for our Kids, by Age 18:

  • physically fit, healthy, strong, and flexible
  • not slothful, but also not fitness psychos
  • athletic, but life not consumed by sports
  • strong sense of personal hygiene

Parenting Implications:

  • provide a healthy diet for them, and model healthy eating habits before them
  • model a healthy habit of regular exercise for them
  • make them spend more time playing outside than inside
  • provide regular opportunities for recreational sports, but cautiously limit over-zealous and life-consuming athletics, teams, leagues, and competitions
  • teach & demonstrate proper personal hygiene habits for hands, body, hair, and teeth

Life Category: Basic Life Skills

Hopes for our Kids, by Age 18:

  • able to do their own laundry, cook their own meals, clean & organize their own living spaces
  • able to maintain their own vehicle
  • knowledge of basic home maintenance skills (simple plumbing, electrical, carpentry, painting, etc.)
  • fluent in at least one other language
  • proficient in at least one musical instrument
  • not addicted to media, things with screens, electronic gadgets, and technology
  • excellent time managers, including healthy cycles of nightly sleep & weekly rest

Parenting Implications:

  • engage them in the processes of laundry, cooking, & cleaning from age 2 on!
  • engage them in home maintenance projects using a “teach-as-we-go” method with regards to basic plumbing, electrical, carpentry, painting, etc.
  • limit their exposure to “screen time” – teach them how to use technology & media for their purposes as helpful tools, not as things that rule and dominate our lives, time, & energy
  • don’t be on the computer or watching TV all the time, ourselves
  • foreign language training: provide the opportunities for this and create space in our family schedule for it
  • musical instrument training: provide the opportunities for this and create space in our family schedule for it
  • teach them basic vehicle maintenance and how to drive a manual transmission vehicle by age 16
  • model & teach healthy cycles of nightly sleep & weekly rest

Life Category: Work Ethic

Hopes for our Kids, by Age 18:

  • industrious, strong work ethic
  • strong sense of personal responsibility

Parenting Implications:

  • model hard work & personal responsibility for them at home & at work
  • start a household chore chart for them by age 4
  • help them get a part-time job or start a small personal business by age 15
  • gradually help them take over their own finances by age 18

Life Category: Personal Finance

Hopes for our Kids, by Age 18:

  • able to fully manage their own personal finances by age 18
  • monthly habit of generosity & giving
  • monthly habit of saving & planning ahead
  • be wise consumers – know how to shop smart
  • healthy/cautious understanding of debt and credit cards

Parenting Implications:

  • model wise spending, saving, and debt-avoiding habits in our family
  • live beneath our means as a family
  • use credit cards sparingly
  • model a life of generous giving before them
  • integrate pay into their chore charts at age 4
  • involve kids in decisions regarding our family’s Kingdom giving
  • open a joint checking account with each of them by age 16
  • help them complete a Bible-based personal finance course by age 18
  • begin teaching them about insurance, investing, and estate-planning(wills) by age 18

In parenting, we too often shoot the arrow… then go draw a target around the point where it landed.  By declaring now – in writing – the specific targets that we are shooting for, we will greatly increase our chances of getting our kids where we truly hope for them to be at age 18!

There are no guarantees, of course, that having a discipleship plan for our children will result amazing, Godly kids… but just “praying and hoping for the best” is certainly not a successful parenting strategy!  One thing is for sure: our kids are not going to mature into the young adults we hope they will become by sheer accident!

*A Quick Note of Encouragement / Disclaimer: don’t be intimidated by this process.  Dianna & I produced this list in two 3-hour sittings – just talking, brainstorming, and praying together.  We had the help of just one little book, Dr. Matt Friedeman’s Discipleship in the HomeYOU CAN DO THIS!  You’ll be SO glad that you did!  And your kids will be, too  …someday :-)

8 responses to “Cash Family “Age 18 List” for our kids

  1. We’ve received lots of positive feedback from this on facebook & elsewhere – thanks so much everybody! We are certainly not the originators of this concept:-). We have the benefit of standing on the shoulders of a host of Godly parents who have invested decades into discipling their children and shared their ideas, failures, and successes with us in person and through books & teaching & stuff. This list truly is a reflection of the cumulative work of the larger community of faith, begun long before the two of us ever came into parenthood!

  2. Pingback: God’s Call on Parents is to Pastor Their Families | LikeTreesPlanted·

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  4. I promise to pray for you and Dianna! So excited to see how God will use you as parents to your amazing precious children!

    Thank you for sharing this post… A great plan as grandparents to also be an active role raising disciples! Can’t wait to share this with Bob! We love and miss you guys!

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