My parents had lots of good ideas as they raised us nine kids. One of their “masterpieces” in my book was that they figured out a great way to help kids make “Decisions in advance.”

Do you remember these “Dream Books” I’ve talked a lot about over the years?

Well, each of us had one of those puppies growing up.

In them we were encouraged to write all kinds of things, from a descriptions of who we envisioned we were going to be the next year, in five years, in ten years, to our dreams and our goals.

And do you know what?

The majority of the things I wrote growing up came true.

The things written inside that book of mine have worked their way into my heart and changed the trajectory of my life in many ways.

(Love this quote from the “Disrupt Yourself” podcast)

When you write something down, I’m sure there’s some study somewhere that tells us that it’s much more likely to happen, don’t you think?


There was one section in the back of those special books where we were encouraged to think about and write our “Decisions in Advance.”

We thought long and hard about these things because this was serious business. These were things we knew we could make a decision about early about. Making decisions before we were in the moment rather than trying to decide things under peer pressure. (Because we all know that’s never a good time to make a decision!)

That little section in my book is a GOLDEN section I tell you!

Some of the things I wrote:

“I will not cheat in school.”

“I will not drink alcohol.”

“I will not smoke or take drugs.”

Oh, and I had some that weren’t “I will nots,” like “I will strive to make Jesus my friend and let Him into my life” and “I will be a good friend” and “I’ll work to be worthy to get married in the temple.”

Not only did we write down those “decisions in advance,” we signed each one of them, just to make them more legit.

And do you know what? I held true to all those decisions. I was so glad to have made those decisions early. They helped guide my life in many ways.


So, of course, since that list of decisions of mine meant a lot to me growing up, each of our children has their own list of decisions in the back of their own dream books.

Those books we made together as the kids grew up are, at the moment, gathering dust. No one is around to work on them (although Lucy is, and it’s our goal to get hers and mine out to work on this week!)

BUT, although they are gathering dust right about now, they are little jewels in so many ways.

Just like the things in my book, many things those kids wrote down have been manifested in their own lives.

I was talking with one of my graduated kids a while back and somehow we got on the topic of some friends who were really struggling. I asked why they didn’t do some of the things their peers had done in certain instances in high school.

And out of the blue this young adult of mine said, “well, I made ‘Decisions in Advance,’ you know…”

Isn’t that just the most amazing thing in the world when you realize something in the sea of things you tried to teach your children stuck?

I didn’t know that this particular kid of mine had any recollection whatsoever of writing down that list of things they wouldn’t or would do in life all those years ago. But they did.

Kids need opportunities to think about and make good decisions. Especially decisions they can make in advance.

So, thank you mom and dad, for coming up with such a great way to teach kids to make “decisions in advance.” And all the other good stuff that is rippling out from all you taught us growing up!

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  1. That is such a wonderful idea, thank you for sharing that! Just the thing I needed to hear today. I have been thinking deeply about this very thing.

  2. I am not so organized but did have conversations with my children about how they would handle certain situations. That being said, and I dont want to sound snarky, but, you were so good, your goals so pure, and it sounds like you followed them to a t. I was raised in a Catholic family and I was a bit rebellious in my teen years. Nothing that derailed my life but definitely took some risks, experimented with stuff etc… i do think having a strong family foundation helped me course correct. Although I would never encourage my kids to engage in risky behavior, some of it is part of the teenage brain and development (believe me I am not encouraging crazy stuff). I guess my point is, while in theory it is nice to think that at a you age you right down these very pure sort of perfect goals and then you stay on course. There is growth in messiness and pushing the boundaries a bit to see where you actually are going to land. I guess knowing my strong willed mind as a kid and teen, i would have balked at some of this. I admire that your parents got everyone to “buy in” I to doesnt sound like anyone went sort of “wild”. Again, not encouraging it but I have 5 siblings and everyone ended up well but definitely some messiness in there (which helped us grow as well).

    1. Lkt, I appreciate you sharing these thoughts and your perspective so very much. And I agree, there are so many different ways to go about helping kids make good decisions. I love that you said there is growth in the messiness because that is so true. We don’t really grow if we make all perfect decisions. I think the main point is to realize that some decisions really can be thought through earlier than we think, and this can help when kids feel peer pressure to do something that in their hearts they really don’t want to do.

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