Day 19: The Captain’s Hat – How to chart a course for your child’s future

Ruthie The Captain's Hat 2 Comments

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Day 19 captainThe day your child is born, she begins showing signs of independence.

Independence is a wonderful thing, when channeled in the right direction.

For the parent, recognizing the signs is part of the process.

Do you ever wonder if you’re doing it right?

As I navigated the seas of parenting, I observed differing strengths and weaknesses in my children.

Here’s how I learned to chart a course and gradually set their ships out to sea.




1.  All hands on deck

Give your children responsibilities as soon as they’re old enough to swab the deck.

Toddlers can learn to pick up their toys.

A preschooler can make her bed (ok, somewhat.)

Grade school children should clean sinks, do the dishes, and fold towels.

Teenagers are fully capable of washing their own clothes and driving younger siblings to soccer practice (plus a whole lot more – some of which you wish they wouldn’t).

Do not do anything for them that they can do for themselves.

That science project?  They won’t learn a thing if you put it together.

Make sure they’re learning the proper skills for writing term papers.

As they perform various tasks, keep an eye out for special knacks or proclivities.

You contribute zero favors (for yourself, and for them) by manning their battle station.


2.  Don’t let them bale out

Sooner or later, they’re going to realize chores are not fun.

Batten down the hatches and don’t let them hand you a line.

(I’m really digging this sailor talk – minus the bad language.)

Establish a system.  Give the toddler stickers or m&ms.  Promise the older child a trip to the Dollar Store.  Establish an allowance.

Find positive ways to reinforce good behavior.

But not with everything. Your child needs to obey you because you are the captain and you have knowledge they know not of.

Teach them obedience and respect.

If they refuse, make them walk the plank.

(You know I couldn’t resist.)

In other words, use sound discipline. Withdraw privileges. Make the punishment fit the crime.  Be consistent.

You’re teaching them habits for life.

When you ask them to do something, they’re response should be, “Aye, aye, Cap’n”.  (Or yes ma’am.)


3.  Scan the horizons

sailor rules

Land Ho! A whole new world awaits your child someday.

If you teach her how to keep her room clean, she will keep her house straightened someday too.

Take the time to show him how to clean toilets, wipe crumbs off kitchen counters, and run the sweeper.

Do you really want your son going off to college without knowing how to change a tire or maintain automobile upkeep?

And who’s going to do your daughter’s laundry?

By the time everyone reached their teens in our house, they did their own wash.

Even hubs – but that’s because he has nervous energy.

Drool all you want, ladies.

I do not do anyone’s laundry except my own.

You are working your way out of a job.

Try it – you’ll feel like you’ve been handed an extra chunk of time!


Prepare your kids now - when they set off for deeper seas, they won't be dead in the water. Click To Tweet


4.  Clear the deck for action

Study your child’s bent.

Each child has a knack for something.  Sports, music, art, etc.

He will exhibit signs from a very young age and if you pay attention, you can channel his talents in the right direction!


When my daughter was 3, she drew on walls, adored music, and didn’t play with toys.

I knew she possessed potential talents that needed channeled into positive and fulfilling behavior.

(Plus I was getting tired of red ink on my walls.)

So I bought her a magnadoodle every year for Christmas and kept her in colored pencils and paper.

I provided her with musical toys, and secured a violin teacher when she turned five.


Today, that child is 21 years old.  She is an accomplished musician and artist.  She traveled all over the country with a singing group the past two summers, ministering to teens with deep spiritual needs.  She has a heart for service.

And, she drew the bird and nest in my logo at the top of this page and helped me design my header.

I knew that kid was going to come in handy someday.


Persistence and consistency pays off - after all, you don't want your kid drifting through life. Click To Tweet


Do you?


5.  Prepare the maiden voyage

Let out the rope a little at a time.

When they’re old enough, send them to Bible camp in the summer.

Let them go on youth outings and weekend trips.

Summer missions trips are wonderful – all of our kids participated in one or more in their teen years.

It’s preparation for the inevitable.

You’ll have to launch them someday, but they need a little practice first.  

Don’t worry – you’re the captain of this ship – the overseer.

You still determine what they do and don’t do – you’re the one with the compass.


6.   Anchors Aweigh

Tide-Waiter: This expression refers to someone who waits to see the trend of events before taking action, much like ship captains wait for tides to continue on a given course.


Set them out to sea when it’s time.

This is so hard.  Mama, if you’re in this stage, I feel you.

Oh, how I feel you.


At first, you’re at loose ends and don’t quite know what to do with yourself (plus all hands are now off deck and you have to do all the housework).

(Although now there’s less housework because there’s less mess. Which ironically makes you sad.)

You find yourself a bit down in the doldrums.

You’ll want to call, text, and visit them as often as possible.  Don’t go overboard.

Let them settle in.


This doesn’t happen overnight – you’ll most likely be in the position of tide-waiter for a while.

Throughout this time, you remain the harbor of refuge.

They return, you counsel, and then set them back on course.

This transition is not for the faint of heart.



grandview girls

My little fleet all returned to the harbor last weekend.  And oh, what a balm to my soul.

We played games and laughed till we cried.  We cooked together and savored the aromas and flavors of fall.

Meals were relished round the table, precious, full-flavored moments filled the four walls of our much-loved home.

Conversation flowed freely, present and future plans were discussed.


And then, it came – just as the tides return to the shore.

Time for them to return to their stations and sail off for chartered courses beyond my sight, with God as the ultimate determiner of their destinations.

And now, I trust – that’s all I can do.

It always leaves me a bit overwhelmed.


My radar's still out, but their ships are past my detection. Click To Tweet


They will face turbulence and storms beyond my knowledge, but they know the True Captain of their souls.


“The tempest may sweep over wild, stormy, deep,
In Jesus I’m safe evermore.” ~The Haven of Rest, Henry L. Gilmour


Steady the course, mom.  Man the stewards, scan the horizons, chart the course.

Are you wrestling with an independent child? Perhaps struggling to guide them on a clear path? Maybe you’re in the embarkment stage, setting them free to sail.  Wear that Captain’s hat, mama.  They’re looking to you for direction.


Cllick here for Day 20: The Hart Hat!

{I’m here to pray for you, mama.  If you’d like that, you can contact me here.  I know you’re out there, weary, sometimes treading water.  Know that God will see you through every step of the way.  Thank you for reading, please leave a comment if this series is helping you!}


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Comments 2

  1. Every parent should read this. As a teacher, I see so many parents afraid to give their child responsibilities early on. If they only knew the benefits from teaching them early this major factor of life. They do everything for them, give them everything and then expect them to make it in the world.

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