Raise a normal, healthy kid? Is that still possible these days?
I imagine you started parenting like me:
- You thought you knew a lot more than you did.
- You found out you knew a lot less than was comfortable to admit.
- You didn’t earn a degree from “parenting college.”
The job of parenting isn’t for cowards. It’s hard. Many young adults are excited to start their family. When precious baby comes along, the reality of its utter dependency hits. Constant work, little sleep, and lack of practical “baby wisdom” slams into your world! The marathon of raising kids starts – with you exhausted!
After pouring out night and day with an infant, you hit the terrible two’s, then the tumultuous toddler years. You feel you are “all thumbs” at good parenting. But you rally! – And get them to pre-teen years.
Suddenly, your young whipper-snapper is quite sure they know more than you. The challenge – “How do I make it clear they don’t, yet keep their overgrown ego and fragile, fearful heart protected and nurtured? How do I keep my own heart from sin?”
Here are 10 helpful points to be a good parent:
- Don’t focus on being friends. Focus on excellent parenting. Your job is to train your child into a healthy, mature, responsible adult. You may one day become friends, but the goal is to raise them well. Keep your role and goals clear. Focus on their needs rather than your desire to be their friend. A good parent will often become a treasured friend later in life. This is often the case – and happens to be true of my own relationship with all my grown children. But don’t sacrifice what needs to be done for your child’s development by trying to have a friendship with them instead of doing the hard work of quality parenting.
- Do be a model for them. In every response, model the character of Jesus. You will make better decisions for yourself and for your children.
- Let your kids fail without rescuing them. Soften the blow when they are young, but don’t interfere with natural consequences that strongly teach a child. When they make mistakes, interact with grace. Be loving and kind, yet firmly hold them accountable.
- Keep your own heart close to God. Kids absorb more than you teach. They see through words and actions into your heart. The closer you are to Jesus, the greater your influence on them. God transforms hearts . . . starting with yours.
- Accept responsibility for your work in your child’s life. Your child is wet cement – molded as they watch how you handle your sins, discouragements, conflicts, relationships, challenges, difficulties, successes, and moods. Your attitudes and perspectives are critical.
- Discipline your child. If you withhold it – big mistake. You should always be kind and respectful to your child. But you must discipline. Don’t be afraid to confront your ill-behaved child with clear expectations and appropriate punishment. Speak firmly and demand obedience.
- Relate to your child authentically and calmly. Don’t perform. Don’t present a frilly reality. Don’t be harsh or rude. Be “real” about life. Be calm.
- Deal with your fears, insecurities, and pride. ALL parents have these. So, don’t deny their presence. Instead, model honest responsibility for your own processes. Model faith in God.
- Teach your child about the Lord. As you portray Jesus to your child, you equip them to live successfully in the unseen world of God’s reality.
- Pray for your child. Ask God for wisdom. He knows your child inside-out. You don’t own that little person. Take your child to Jesus in prayer each day! Point them to the cross by your life, your words, and your love.