Parenting: It’s not for the faint of heart.
For those of you in the thick of raising your kids, you know firsthand the challenges of parenting.
It’s a constant tension between being
-loving but firm
-fun but disciplined
-friendly but authoritative…the list goes on.
And the challenges constantly change as your kids grow. The issues you have trying to parent a toddler are completely different from those you’ll have trying to parent a teenager. It can feel like just when you figure things out, they completely change the game.
I want to encourage you today…you’re probably doing better than you think you are. And we’re in this together!
Here are 4 parenting principles you can use to grow and develop in your relationship with your kids.
1. Get in God’s Presence.
I am a completely different person after I’ve spent time with God…and a completely different parent, too.
Your kids deserve a mom and/or dad who prioritize spending time with God daily. You’ll be more patient, considerate, fair, joyful, peaceful, confident…just to name a few of the ways you’ll change for the better as a result of being with the Lord.
It starts with you having a personal quiet time, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Have family devotions too! Take some time to pray, read God’s word, sing worship music together. It’s important that your kids see you doing these things. This leads me to my next point….
ACTION STEP: Set an alarm on your phone so you have a few extra minutes in the morning to spend in God’ presence. Make sure you spend some of that time in prayer, in the Word, and just listening to the Holy Spirit. Journaling is a great way to keep track of what you think God is speaking to you about.
2. Lead by Example
I’ll never forget the time I was watching my son at a ball game. I was sitting among the other parents, and one of the moms was complaining about her son using foul language. “I don’t know why he’s cussing like that. Sure, he’s heard US talk like that, but we don’t allow that from our kids.”
It’s the age-old, “Do as I say, not as I do,” problem.
Do you want your kids to be patient? Helpful at home? Respectful to the family?
How are you doing in those areas?
Think about all the ways you hope your kids’ character develops. Now, ask consider whether or not your character is developed in the same way.
If you expect something from your kids, make sure you’re leading the way.
ACTION STEP: Write out the top 5 attributes your kids develop. Then ask write out how you’re doing in those areas. Be honest with yourself about what your kids see in you.
3. Know and Honor Your Child
Your kids have unique personalities and attributes. One child may be outgoing and fun-loving, while another might be quiet and introverted. One child excels at athletics and another prefers computers.
One of the keys to good parenting is understanding what motivates and inspires your child. What are their greatest fears and frustrations? What are their dreams and goals?
Celebrate what makes your child unique. Join them in the things they enjoy doing, not just the things you enjoy doing. Work with them on the areas where they have faults and struggles.
One of the things I’ve done with my family that has helped in this area is personality assessments. You can decide which one to use, but do the assessment of choice as a family (usually, you have to be about 12 years old to get accurate results). Share the findings with each other and you’ll better learn how to interact with one another.
ACTION STEP: Choose a personality assessment you’d like to use and set aside some family time for each member of your family to go through it. Go over the results together and learn about how to best treat one another.
4. Value Presence Over Presents
No matter how much they beg, your kids don’t want stuff as much as they want time with you.
We live in a culture where kids are given a whole lot of stuff and not a whole lot of family time. Especially, time one-on-one with a parent.
I’m not saying that stuff is bad. It’s a-moral…not good or bad.
But when you’re so busy working to provide a bunch of expensive stuff for your household that there’s no time to be with your kids, it’s a problem.
This one will take effort and intention. Your calendar is probably pretty full…and as your kids get older, so is theirs. You’ll need to make family time a priority. Make sure your calendar includes some kind of family time each week. It might be date night with your spouse, family game night, or one-on-one time doing something with one of your kids THEY love doing.
Don’t allow work priorities and the siren song of the accumulation of stuff to crowd out quality time with your children.
ACTION STEP: Take out your calendar and find a couple of hours to spend as a family, or to spend with each of your kids one-on-one. Make this a part of your weekly rhythms as a family.