Reassess the Decisions That Affect Your Family

by Ann Byle

Lysa and Art TerKeurst lead busy lives, she as president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and he as owner-operator of a Chick-fil-A restaurant. The pair recently had to reassess a decision they made years ago about how they wanted their family to operate. They wanted their kids — three biological, two adopted — to try a lot of activities so they could find one that they really enjoyed. But Lysa and Art also wanted to be a family that had dinner together several times each week.

Unfortunately, as the kids got older and busier, family dinners lost out to too many activities, and the mama/chauffeur/organizer was stressed, tired, short-tempered and spiritually down.

Lysa explains, "We were talking about the kind of family we wanted to be, but our schedule wasn't showing that. So we 'chased down' our decision about activities."

Chasing down a decision — the act of following a decision made now to its logical conclusion later. The TerKeursts reviewed their decision to allow their children to participate in multiple activities and the results of that decision. They concluded that the decision ultimately meant chaos, stress and very little dedicated family time.

The TerKeurst parents made a new decision: Their children would limit their activities to one at a time, and there were two sacred times they couldn't violate each week. One was Sunday church together, and the other was Monday night dinner together. Every family will have to review and clarify their own boundaries, but these were the specifics that worked for the TerKeursts.

Lysa explains that even though chasing down a decision may not be a cure-all, "It gives us a bigger perspective about every decision we make. Something may seem fun or good at the moment, but every decision has a consequence."

Mothers can be part of the problem and part of the solution in their home. Whether decisions are related to time-management, financial budgeting or other areas of family life, Lysa admits that chasing down a decision is hard but not impossible. And she knows that parents modeling good decision-making means kids can learn it, too. Here is her best advice:

Involve kids in decisions. When children have a request, help them chase that decision down. For example, Jay wants a job to earn gas money and spending money, but he's on the tennis team in the fall and basketball team in the winter. With those obligations, can he be a responsible employee who works four to five shifts a week? Probably not. His parents offer him at-home jobs such as cleaning and home maintenance that he can do between school and sports — a solution that provides him cash and his parents a cleaner home.

Reassess the commitment. The school play is finally over, and there's already talk of another. Sit your budding thespian down and really look at the time, energy and commitment it took to be part of the play. Too much? Time to take a break? On the other hand, if your thespian loved the experience and decided not to join the track team, then go for it.

Pre-decide on the front end. Decide as a family what your goals are, so that decision making comes easier. If you know you're going to Key West to snorkel next summer, saving money now is necessary. Help children understand that the expensive new tablet computer and the out-of-state amusement park trip will have to wait if Key West is the goal.

"I don't think we [verbally] teach our kids the lesson to be busy, but they learn from the rhythms we set," Lysa says. "Some busyness is unavoidable, but take a giant step back and ask what you want your family to look like."

Moms, learning to chase down your own decisions is a good step in teaching your children to do the same. The benefits are myriad: less stress over money and schedules; time to relax or volunteer at a local ministry; maybe even a mom who loves her job, her family and her life.

Ann Byle has been a freelance writer for 17 years, and Lysa TerKeurst's most recent book title is The Best Yes: Making wise decisions in the midst of endless demands.


Copyright © 2014 by Ann Byle. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.


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