Nothing lights up my face more than when someone asks me about my children. Without question, I would not be the person I am today if I hadn't wanted to give them the best example I could. So, what I lacked, I worked on. What I didn't know how to do, I learned. I'm still not a perfect parent - and what fun would that be, anyway!? The best childhood stories always come from the "unfair" treatment that we have lived to talk about. ;)
I have learned a few things about parenting, things that I think have value for most people. I know that the way I parent will not work for everyone. But, it is the only way that I could parent. It was the only way that made sense to me. It utilizes my strengths and places a great deal of the responsibility on my children. I call it Parenting for Life because it represents an approach that prepares the child for life (and all that will come with it) and it also stands for how the parent approaches the parenting (in principle, unchanging and steady regardless of the age of the child). For what it is worth to you, here are a few of the basics for how I parent. In future posts, I'll go into more detail. I'll be creating a YouTube channel to tackle those things that video conveys much more effectively than reading. Stay Tuned for that.
Parenting for Life Basics
1. Utilize natural consequences, not ones that you make up for the purpose of teaching a lesson.
2. When your child needs to make a decision, look at what he has in front of him to consider. If he has holes in the data, provide what is missing. Then, step back and let him figure out the course of action to take. (This is definitely more for older children, but not as old as you might think.)
3. Allow your children to fail. I always say that my job as a parent is to provide a safe place for my children to fail. This can sometimes be harder than helping them succeed. Doing NOTHING can be incredibly draining.
4. Don't try to look perfect, they can learn more from the lessons you've learned than you think and they will appreciate that you are honest.
5. Teach your child what is right and then trust her.
6. Resist the temptation to punish your child for his honesty. In your child's mind, you finding out should not be the worst thing that can happen.
7. Spend as much time with your children as possible. Talk when it's time to talk. Listen when it's time to listen. And, ALWAYS let them know that they are already wonderful and deserving of your (and God's) love.
8. Talk about things so openly and often that when your child thinks to herself, "What would Mom/Dad say?" she already knows because she can hear the words in her mind.
This isn't an exhaustive list, but it is enough for you to see where I'm headed. When our kids come along, we don't know what we're doing. We've never been parents before. But, the good news is that they've never had parents before. So, just do your best and no matter what, DO IT WITH LOVE. Love can cover a multitude of shortcomings.
My family is what has always been my motivation for going that extra mile. But, that doesn't mean it has always been or will always be easy. I'll be sharing some of what works for me and how I approach this wonderfully chaotic piece of heaven known as family.