As the parent of 7 wonderful children (4 of my own and 3 delightfully inherited), I’ve made some observations over my past 32 years of parenting.
Thus far, I’ve concluded four things:
- Raising children well doesn’t mean we have to be perfect or have it all figured out ahead of time.
- Parenting is as much for our benefit as for our children’s.
- God’s the perfect parent so we should examine how he does it.
- Each person has free choice. No matter how well we train a child, he or she will choose how to live. Remember that perfect parent God? Even Adam and Eve made a devastating choice.
Dr. James Dobson wrote a book called Parenting Isn’t for Cowards, but most of us find ourselves cowering in our hearts at one point or another along the way.
Here are some tips to boost your bravery:
- Respect them. They are people too.
- Right or wrong, be honest. They smell hypocrisy.
- Tell them you love them every day.
- Ask for forgiveness when you blow it.
- Allow God’s grace to cover your mistakes and failures.
- Don’t exasperate them with inconsistency, lack of boundaries or unrealistic expectations.
- Ask the right questions. Ones that open discussion not shut it off.
- Tell them you are proud of who they are not only what they do.
- The Bible is the standard, you are simply the messenger. Let God direct them. Be accountable to God for the message you give.
- Show them Jesus by your actions and your love for them and others.
- Listen, listen, listen to THEM, and they will listen to you. (HEAR what they are saying.)
- Don’t declare war on them—you are on the same side so fight their battles with them.
- Put yourself in their shoes. We are parents because we’ve been there. If we forget what it was like, how can we relate to them in order to help them navigate through it?
- Take your role as parent seriously. You are accountable to God. He entrusted you with the children you have.
- Train them to make good decisions and be trustworthy and responsible for their actions. Self-governed not rule governed. They need to learn good choices for life not just to keep from being “in trouble.”
- Teach them to obey because it will bring them good not because you hover over or threaten punishment. Focus on the positive rather than simply avoiding trouble.
- Be self-disciplined. We can’t expect our kids to follow through when we don’t.
- Allow them to be who God has made them to be. Help them see who they are, not who you want them to be.
- Don’t take their behavior or words personally. Avoid reacting. Even though they may be a reflection of you, don’t make that your goal.
- Love them enough to say no. Be willing to say yes. Even when it’s inconvenient.
Hopefully these tips I’ve collected will encourage you in your parenting journey.
How about you? What things have you learned along the way? Or what would you share from a young person’s perspective?