“Raise up a child in the way they should go…”

At our third 2014 meeting on June 9, we also heard more from the Warren family and discussed our hopes and expectations as we get ready to serve with our youngest team member to date! Read on for a recap from Amanda.

Despite our efforts in life to expose ourselves and our family to diversity, most of the people with whom we interact on a day-to-day basis look, dress, and think a lot alike.  They live in the same types of homes and have the same type of life rhythms. We don’t want our two-year-old daughter, Olivia, to grow up unaware of or unconcerned with either the weaknesses or strengths of the world beyond her home. So for so many reasons, that being not the least of them, we’ve decided to bring our daughter to the Dominican on her first mission trip.

The bible would say “raise up a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it.” As a speech pathologist, it’s my job to take big goals like “raise up Olivia in the way she should go” or “Olivia will not depart from the ways we’ve taught her” into short-term, measurable goals. And of course, there will be different goals for each age dependent on her developmental, emotional, and knowledge levels.

This year, We’ve set a few (hopefully measurable) goals for our family that we’ve already been working on, and will continue to work on while we’re on the trip and after we leave. Some of them are very basic and you might even laugh when you hear them. But we think that each of them is a first step toward that bigger goal of raising her in the way she should go.

But before we list out those five goals for you, we want to answer a question that our team leaders had for us, which was about what our expectations are regarding how Olivia would interact with the rest of the group. It is our hope that each team member would come on board to help us reach our short-term goals, pray for us about our goals, praise us for our progress toward these goals, and feel comfortable speaking into our lives if we’re departing from these goals.

  1. Olivia will listen, obey, and be polite. She might not like it, but we expect her to stop when an adult says stop, come when an adult says come, and pay attention when someone is speaking to her. She is expected to follow short, simple directions and be a productive part of society (things like throwing away her own trash and cleaning up her own messes). When she asks for something, she should say please. If she doesn’t, we often will prompt her by asking what nice words she should use.
  2. Olivia will try new foods. She doesn’t have to eat the whole thing. But she does have to tolerate items on her plate and hopefully will even put items in her mouth and chew (even if she then spits it out). We plan to travel with preferred foods and snacks too, just in case.
  3. Olivia will observe her surroundings. When we walk or ride on buses, trains, and planes, we ask “what do you see?” and then follow up with a conversation about things we see. We try hard to point out what we can actually observe and not to make judgments about it. (“I see a woman with children” is different than “I see a mother and children.”)
  4. Olivia will wait. Travel requires patience and toddlers don’t have much of that. When she requests something (either formally or informally), we often expect her to be able to wait a few seconds or a few minutes for that item. If the wait is going to be unusually long, then we’ll try to distract her with a different, preferred item while she waits. We also use a lot of “first X, then Y.”
  5. Olivia will display a spirit of adventure. At home, this means that while we have a typical routine, when fun things come up like visiting friends or attending special events, we don’t let our schedule dictate when we say yes or no. To this end, we expect her to participate in all of the activities we do in whatever way she’s capable—even if that means sleeping in the carrier while we are out and about. We think “participating in whatever way she’s capable” is easy when we’re playing with kiddos or going on team outings. We’re not really sure what it looks like during medical clinic and construction days, but we’re all going to figure that out together this year!