Ken and Stacey live in Northern California. They’ve been married for 22 years. Ken is a tax accountant, and Stacey is a homeschooling mother of three boys. Two of their sons are now in college (Michael and Andrew), and a third (Brandon) is a junior in high school.
Did you assume your kids would go to college?
Starting their freshman year of high school, we had them spend five minutes of their daily quiet times in silence. Especially during their junior and senior years, we encouraged them to listen for God to give direction regarding their future. We prayed with each of them explicitly in this area.
If they were unsure of their direction, then going to a four-year school wouldn’t be an option for them. Alternatives could be joining the military, going on an extended mission trip, or going to junior college (perhaps while working a part-time job). But honestly, our first choice was a college degree—preferably in a field with promising employment opportunities.
How did you talk to your sons about what to expect at college?
We told them their faith would be challenged—even at a Christian college—and we encouraged them to be a light wherever they ended up (Matt. 5:14–16). From their earliest days, we taught them “Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it, and right is right even if no one is doing it.” We warned them they’d have to be disciplined, manage their time well, and be self-motivated because nobody would be looking over their shoulder.
How did your sons display ambition in high school?
We encouraged them to have a well-rounded life in high school—to include service to God and others, as well as personal development, in the midst of their academic work. We wanted the Lord to be the top priority in their lives. We trained them enthusiastically in “life skills”—finances, home maintenance, tithing, and being lifelong learners. We trusted that God would open the doors for them in college and beyond.
We had them each take an SAT prep course. We gave them career tests to discover their aptitude for various disciplines. There are a few engineers in our family, and math was always easy for Michael. So after we arranged several job-shadowing experiences for him, as a high school senior he narrowed down his chosen field to engineering. During his first year at college, he narrowed it further to electrical engineering. Now a junior in college, he recently enjoyed a six-month internship in his field.
Andrew is more introverted and likes a quieter environment that allows him to work individually. After long talks with his dad about accounting, he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps. He’s been enjoying his first semester at college.
How did you seek to shape their character?
We tried to motivate them with Scripture so they’d see that our requirements made sense and were rooted in God’s will to bless them. We didn’t want them to do things just because we said so.
The boys attended youth group in junior high and high school, and Ken was one of their leaders. We also required them to serve in a ministry. Each of our sons has worked with younger children, visited Alzheimer’s patients, built homes in Mexico, and served as a counselor at summer camp. These opportunities stretched their faith and allowed them to be a blessing to others.
We’ve been intentional about training our boys and giving them opportunities to rely on God in a personal way. It is our prayer that when the world comes at them with all its temptations and ugliness, they will know the righteous path because they’ve not only seen it before, but they’ve been living it.
As they grew up, how did you seek to cultivate diligence and time-management skills?