I welcome the newness of January as it provides the sense of a fresh start.

Resolutions are a cultural part of the New Year and I’ve had varied success when attempting to be resolute about making—and keeping—a plan for the year.

But I appreciate how resolutions help me to prioritize what’s important. As I’ve gotten older, and especially since becoming a parent, my priorities have become clearer and I am more determined to be deliberate with the goals I set.

It recently became popular to identify one word to epitomize a goal for the year. I love the simplicity of this idea and I believe a single word can encompass the tone of my intentions.

This year, rather than coming up with a list of ways to better myself, I’d like to establish one word that applies to our whole family. A word that we can display on the refrigerator or another prominent place and point back to as our guiding notion.

As my daughter grows, my husband and I talk more and more about the culture of our home. We talk about the environment we want to create and the characteristics that are important to pass on to her. Those discussions have led me back to our word, which is “heart".

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Webster defines heart as “the central or innermost part, the essential or most vital part of something, one’s innermost character, feelings, inclinations”.

“It is only with the heart that someone can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

- Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

What is most important in my life is not what I can see: how skinny I am, the clothes I wear, my house, or even how well my daughter behaves in certain situations. It’s what is in our hearts that drives how we live.

The behaviors that I desire in my daughter must start in her heart. If I want her to be obedient or helpful or generous, it must all begin deep inside.

When making decisions in our family, we think about characteristics that address issues of the heart.  Truth, grace, love, humility, selflessness…do the things we do as parents create an environment that fosters these ideals?

For example, when confronted with my demanding three year-old, my focus is on her heart. When she throws a fit as a way to get what she wants, I often address her behavior with a conversation.  I express my concern about her attitude and try to guide her toward understanding what it looks like to have a humble heart.

Also, when I’m organizing my day and putting my agenda before my daughter’s needs, my own heart is not in the right place. Now this doesn’t mean that I center my whole life around her; it does mean that I may have to adjust my priorities.

Words are powerful and can hold a lot of weight. Using “heart” as our guide, I hope to direct our actions in such a way that will not only eliminate empty activities, but emphasize things that will also be life-giving. 

Whether you have a newborn or small children, what word do you want to encapsulate your family’s vision for 2018?

We'd love for you to share your word for 2018 on our Facebook page.


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Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.


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