My husband and I were privileged to attend a workshop on poverty at the College of the Ozarks. One of the things we learned is that people in poverty usually just think about getting through one day at a time. In light of this fact, it would seem that it is very important to teach our children to think ahead and plan for upcoming happenings.
There are at least three things involved in planning ahead. We need to know what is apt to happen in the future. We need to know what our resources are, and we need to plan ways to use those resources to meet the needs the future events will necessitate.
Fall is a good time of year to teach planning ahead. Even nature gives us illustrations as we watch animals scurry about storing food for the winter. Scripture tells us in Proverbs 6:6-8, “Go to the ant you sluggard, consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”
Instead of sheltering our children from unpleasant happenings, we need to let them know the important things that are happening in the world. We need to tell them in such a way as to keep them from panicking, but at the same time letting the children know that these are things to contend with. At this time, we need to tell children about the economy of our country. Nature presents additional future events for which we should plan. The cold of winter, ice storms and tornados are common in the Midwest. Earthquakes are common many places. When we tell children that everything is going to be all right, we are not telling the truth. If children believe this, they see no need to think ahead and plan for events.
A “sit-down” session with children is appropriate for planning ahead. It is helpful for children to write a list, if they are old enough to write, of events to plan for as well as a list of resources and the plan itself. Parents need to discuss with children the location of resources such as flashlights and candles in case the electricity goes off in a storm. Parents need to be honest about the money situation and enlist the help of the children in deciding needs versus wants. Letting the children help in preparing a budget for the family sets a good example of what they should do when they have a home of their own, and the children will feel like they are part of the family team.
The actual plans of what to do in the various events need to be reviewed occasionally. Not only should children be helped to plan with the family for natural occurrences and worldwide events, but they should also be helped to make study plans for the school year. Upcoming events in the family need to be discussed and planned ahead as well.
Discussing future events, and planning for those events, actually helps children feel more secure. It takes less time to plan ahead than it does to wait until we are in the middle of something and then try to deal with it. All in all, it just makes life go more smoothly!