Children don’t arrive with a manual in the glove box. Sometimes I wish they would. But God does give us the Bible with lots of instructions for parents. Here’s some of the best advice I have received for parenting.
#1 – Embrace the fact that God give life and therefore He gives parents the authority to do the job.
Sometimes parents seem to be intimidated by the job of parenting. They are more concerned about their children being mad at them (a given at some point!) than they are about training the child to do what is right and to be a good moral person. You are not their buddy. You are their parent. They will have other friends through the years, but only one mom or dad. And if you do a good job through the years, you’ll get the opportunity to be adult friends when they grow up!
#2 – Embrace the responsibility of parenting.
God gave you the job, even though He knew you wouldn’t do it perfectly. My husband and I apologized to our oldest child when he was about 12. We told him we were learning to parent with him as our guinea pig, and were doing the best we knew how. (Thankfully, we can say he turned out great!)
Be intentional in your parenting. Don’t wait for a problem and then react, but set goals for character and spiritual growth. Choose skills to be learned and chart a course for teaching them. Build on each child’s strengths and gifts, and help them work on their weaknesses.
Don’t react to situations that arise out of your being embarrassed or when something personally offends you. Stop to think about the principles you are training into your children. Correct them for their own good and growth, not your personal satisfaction.
Ephesians 6:1-4Proverbs 22:6
Children don’t turn out well on their own. (Proverbs 29:15) Society has taught that we should expose our children to all kinds of ideas and then let them choose.
into them the principles that apply to life, teach them the moral reason why,
and train them up to a solid standard of behavior. In the heat of the moment when they are
angry, you want them to remember there is a standard of what is acceptable and
Don’t let the child lead. Even if they are smart or gifted, they are not all-wise or great in experience. Some parents let their child do anything they want, and then correct behavior as necessary. This is a bit like telling them they can do no wrong. They’ll be surprised when society does not agree. (This was actually cited as a concern for the two young men who perpetrated the Columbine massacre.) Teach them to embrace and cultivate their gifts, but also to struggle against their weaknesses. They’ll thank you for it someday.
Don’t let them be independent too young. Give freedom commensurate with ability and demonstrated responsibility. Kids with too much independence at a young age will rebel against restrictions placed on them later. They actually become “wise in their own eyes”. (Prov.) Notice, I did not say truly wise, but just that they think they are. Think of a graphed line that shows responsibility / freedom at “0” at birth and at 100% at adulthood. Your control should start at 100% at birth and diminish to “0” by adulthood. Midway (around 12 or 13 if the child is responsive) the two lines should cross and be about half-and-half.
#3 – Embrace the hard work of parenting.
Face it. Children will not misbehave or have an emotional meltdown only when you are rested and ready. Parenting means you are still on duty when you’d rather be doing something else like when you’re sick or when you need a nap.
Realize that some days will not go well. Get back up from a spouse. Tag team with a grandparent. Declare amnesty for the offenders and go out for pizza once in awhile. Give yourself permission on those bad days to do nothing but deal with kid-issues. The house may be a wreck, but everyone is alive to try again another day.
Take respites. Make sure you have time alone or get-aways for date nights and fun times. All work and no play makes mommy a grumpy person. Schedule and guard that time. It should be 2-4 hours each week with other adults or by yourself. Mommy burnout is a real possibility. And it’s ugly!
#4 – Don’t parent out of fear.
You may have bad experiences from your childhood, perhaps even an abusive parent. Don’t let that stop you from being active in your parenting. Some folks are paralyzed by fear of doing the wrong thing, so they do nothing. That leaves they child in a bad place, without guidance and protection from their own whims and willfulness.
Tomorrow – what to train into your child, not just train out of him / her.