ÔLaunching your kids lifeÕ
Bob Reccord is president of the North American Mission Board for the Southern Baptist Convention. He recently spoke with Managing Editor Ken Horn about his latest book, Launching Your Kids for Life, co-authored with his wife, Cheryl.
PE: What caused you to use the analogy of a space shuttle launch as the basis for the book?
RECCORD: When we were talking about writing a book about launching kids into life, Cheryl said, ÒWho knows more about launching than NASA?Ó We decided to get input from NASA. We had help from Tommy Holloway, past director of the NASA Shuttle Program and the International Space Station, and three-time shuttle astronaut David Leetsma. They were thrilled with the idea of the book and very helpful. We thought it was a great analogy for how parents need to give their children a successful launch into adulthood. As with the shuttle, there may be more than one launch, false starts, and even times when the shuttle is called back before going into orbit.
PE: Why is this book needed?
RECCORD: As we travel we ask parents and grandparents how many of them are part of the leadership in a church, a club, a business or a service organization where they routinely do planning. Almost every hand goes up. But when we ask how many of them stopped in the last year to plan what they wanted to accomplish in the lives of their kids and grandkids in the coming year, only one has raised a hand so far. WeÕve lost too much of the intentionality it takes to launch our kids.
PE: You wrote about living an Òon missionÓ lifestyle in your book. What do you mean by that?
RECCORD: When preparing children for a successful life, you need to help them discover their lifeÕs mission, prepare them for lifeÕs challenges and celebrate the milestones along the way. We have provided eight principles for helping your children and grandchildren discover and fulfill GodÕs mission in their lives. We believe that if you teach your kids these eight principles while theyÕre still at home in your care, theyÕll have the foundation on which to find and follow their lifeÕs mission. Each child is different, with a distinct personality and different gifts.
PE: What are some basic ways to stay on mission?
RECCORD: God has called us to be on mission with Him, right here, right now. You need to teach your child that part of being a Christian is sharing the knowledge of Christ with others. Your kidsÕ mission field might be the soccer team or the kid whose locker is next to theirs. The book helps parents model being on mission right where they are, to show children you donÕt have to be a missionary on a foreign field to be on mission. In fact, increasingly in our culture the foreign field has come to us.
PE: You wrote that the number one common denominator in healthy families is Òa home full of joy and laughter and fun.Ó Is this a bigger challenge than it used to be and how do you create this intentionally?
RECCORD: Parents who are launching their kids on mission need to commit to having fun together. ItÕs not so much a program as an attitude.
We experienced an electrical power outage during a thunderstorm. It was evening and our kids were about 12, 8, and 5. They didnÕt know what we were going to do. There was talk that we were going to have to go to a hotel room for the night. But we told them that we would have a campout in our house that night. We played silly games in the dark and told the kind of stories you tell in camp. We had a great time. And we talked about how God guides us through the times in our lives when we canÕt clearly see the way. The kids still talk about that night.
PE: How do the differences between men and women both challenge and aid the process of parenting?
RECCORD: Mothers provide the nesting quality of the home. They make the home a comfortable, cozy place for the family. The father provides the stability and protection factor. He makes the family feel safe and secure.
One time my son was sitting very quietly in our living room and seemed down. I asked him what was wrong. Tears came into his eyes. I had been traveling a lot in my work, and he told me that he just needed me to be there more, in my chair. He didnÕt necessarily need to interact with me, but he needed the security of my just being there. I could have been defensive, but I instead accepted what he said and realized how important my just being there was to him.
PE: What if your spouse isnÕt on board?
RECCORD: Spouses can seem out of sync on raising children for many reasons. If that is the reality youÕre dealing with, you can learn to communicate with your spouse in a way that is most effective in bringing you more in sync.
Men are performance-oriented. If you listen to men talk, itÕs about what theyÕve done or are going to do, about how they perform. They focus on their work, their titles, their recreational activities and their accomplishments. From the time of being little they are told to Òmeasure up.Ó Women focus more on relationships, what they can share and how they and others feel.
Women need to tell their husbands the positive things that they are doing. And not just comments on their good actions, but also on their character. For example, donÕt just say, ÒI am so glad I can depend on you to pick up the kids.Ó Say instead, ÒI really appreciate your dependability. I can count on you to pick up the kids and take them home, and that really means a lot to me.Ó Just to softly encourage men will help them to stay on board. A wife doesnÕt need to beat her husband over the head about it, just softly insert it into her conversation from time to time.
PE: Your last chapter is titled, ÒNow itÕs up to you, parents and grandparents.Ó How can grandparents contribute to this process?
RECCORD: Unfortunately, many grandparents are in the primary role of raising their grandchildren when parents drop the ball. But even when parents are providing a solid home life, grandparents can still be a big help in the process. Grandparents need to sit down with their children and ask them specifically what they can do to help them raise the grandchildren in the way the parents are trying to. They should say, ÒWe know you have goals for your children. We just want to know exactly how we can support you in these goals for raising your children.Ó
PE: What else can help?
RECCORD: One of the most important things is mentoring. Parents often need a mentor in helping to launch their kids. We urge parents to find someone as a mentor. You can look around and see children who turned out great and go to the parents and ask them for advice and learn from their mistakes as well as their successes. We found people like that along our journey, and they were invaluable. In fact, this book is filled with stories of parents who can mentor others. Some are married, and some are single, but all launched their kids well and want others to do the same.
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