Parent With the End in Mind

February 23, 2017

I lived in Eastern Germany for a little over a year in my early twenties. I went there as a missionary for my church where I spent all day studying about and talking to people about God and Jesus Christ. I met people from all over the world with different beliefs and backgrounds. It was a defining time for me in my life, not only as I tried to help others come closer to God but also as my own faith was tried and strengthened. The truth that sustained me most was knowing that God lives and feeling that I truly meant something to Him. Because of this knowledge and the power it gave me I was determined to help other people feel the strength of knowing that they could feel the same feelings of worth as they understood they were children of a loving Father in Heaven.

Fast forward a few years later and my husband and I welcomed our first baby into our home. I was about as naïve as a new mother could be, but I did know one thing: because I had felt God’s love so fully in my own heart I knew that my most important job as a mother was much the same as my job as a missionary – to help my child feel that same feeling of divine worth I feel.

Gordon Hinckley said “There is something of divinity within each of us that needs cultivation, that needs to come to the surface, that needs to find expression. You fathers and mothers, teach your children that they are, in a very literal way, sons and daughters of God. There is no greater truth in all the world than that—to think that we have something of divinity in us”.

As parents, God has entrusted us with His children. First we understand our own worth in God’s eyes and then when we become parents we can easily feel God’s love for our children. We understand that if our own love for our children makes our hearts hurt sometimes, God’s love for them must be truly incomprehensible. And once we feel that swelling, amazing, divine love for our children we begin to parent them very differently.

With that in mind, my favorite parenting advice was given to me once from a seasoned father of nine (when someone with nine kids talks parenting, you listen!) .The phrase that he used was, “parent with the end in mind”. What started as a seemingly simple parenting concept for my husband and I to talk and think about has evolved into one of my core parenting philosophies. Parenting with the end in mind influences everything I do as a parent.

Parenting with the end in mind means assessing every parenting situation that you encounter with this question in the front of your mind: how will my parenting actions now affect my child in 10, 20 or 30 years down the road? And even more, because we know how much God loves our children and how much potential he sees in them, parenting with the end in mind also means asking, “What can I do now that will help my children grow in their understanding of God’s love for them and develop their own love for Him?” The scriptures assure us that if we “train up a child in the way he should go . . . he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Asking ourselves these questions will help us set the feet of our children on the path that leads them closer, and eventually back to, their Father in Heaven.

These questions can also begin to influence the daily decisions we make, from helping children learn to appropriately deal with the pain and emotion of skinning a knee so they can handle deeper pain later, to helping them develop healthy eating, sleeping, friendship, activity, and technology habits. Parenting with the end in mind happens when a father models correct affection and love for his wife so that his children will learn early how they should treat their own spouses later. Parenting with the end mind happens when a mother helps her children develop a love for reading instead of an addiction to technology so that they proactively use their time and their brain throughout their life. Further, parenting with a divine end in mind happens when parents show their children God’s hand and love in the small moments of their lives so they always remember Him.

Now obviously I am no seasoned parent, nor do I have nine grown children to have real results from my parental philosophies BUT I have felt the difference it has made in the way I parent and the way I feel about parenting. And now, even when I am not on top of my parenting game like today, I know that God’s love is there to guide me as I keep focused on my goal to parent with the divine end in mind by remembering the potential he sees in me and my children as I lead them through their early years of life.

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  • Reply Ali Miller February 23, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    This is so beautiful!! Thanks for sharing, Krista!

    • Reply Krista Horton March 1, 2017 at 7:58 pm

      Thanks Ali, I think all of this goes back to your article – we are children of God!

  • Reply Jessie February 23, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Such a wonderful reminder!! Thanks, Krista! I look up to you in so many ways & definitely needed this reminder today. Gah, why does it have to be so hard sometimes to parent with the end in mind? This is something I will be working on!

    • Reply Krista Horton March 1, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      You are so sweet!! I think that’s why it’s my favorite philosophy…because I constantly have to run it through my mind! ugh! It is so hard. Hopefully it really is worth it in the end. I think it will be.

  • Reply Horton February 24, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Very well said.

  • Reply Melissa February 25, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    Yes, well said! This topic is so important and timely. Thank you!

    • Reply Krista Horton March 1, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      Melissa, thanks for reading. I agree!

  • Reply Becca Robison February 26, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    I love this so much!!! The more I’ve studied this topic this month, the more I’ve begun to realize that my children will begin to understand their own divinity if I first honor it in them. Something as simple as getting down to talk with my 2-year-old on his level gives him a little more dignity than shouting at him from above. Not that I do that every time . . . but “starting with the end in mind” really gives me that perspective. Thank you 🙂

    • Reply Krista Horton March 1, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      I love that example Becca! Our love is how they will come to know God’s love.

  • Reply Jessica February 27, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Thanks for your beautiful thoughts. I’m so lucky to be parenting next door to you!

    • Reply Krista Horton March 1, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Sheesh, I’m the lucky one!! I wasn’t kidding about you needing to be my life coach 🙂 Thanks for reading friend!

  • Reply Raquel Bell February 27, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Well said, that gives me something to ponder this week as I prepare for the sacrament.

    • Reply Krista Horton March 1, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      You are just so good. Thanks for reading friend!

  • Reply Vicky T March 2, 2017 at 9:33 am

    This was beautiful and it tugged my heart. Sometimes the business of life and my own impatience make it difficult to remember that my actions can affect my children greatly now and in years to come. Thanks for this great reminder that one day my children will be adults and now is the time to shape those lives and bring them close to Heavenly Father and help them develop that relationship with Him now.

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