Wow, what a promise I’m making in that title, huh? In fact, I bet you’ve already scrolled past this opening paragraph to preview the 10 ways listed below to see if this post is even worth your time. That’s ok. Go ahead and scroll down… It’s ok, I’ll wait…
Well, what did you find? Is it really that simple? Yes! Is it really that hard? Yes! The journey of parenting has some definitives that are true, but also has just as many unknowns. But, what I do know is that there are some things that increase the potential for being successful at raising your kids. And these are 10 of them:
- Embrace the season you’re in. We often find ourselves thinking that when our kids are X years old or in the NEXT season of life, that things will be better. When we do that, we check out of the current season and begin living in this place that doesn’t exist and will probably only disappoint us…and our kids. Stop thinking: “When he’s potty trained, then…” or “When soccer season is over, then…” or “When she’s in high school, then…” Embrace and enjoy the season your in – because one day it will be over and you’ll wish it wasn’t.
- Be intentional about making memories. The memories that we are creating with our children matter. The memories that I have from my childhood with my parents are priceless and I want to make sure that my kids have the same opportunities. And, memories can be made accidentally…but I’ve found that being intentional about making memories helps make them stick. So, take vacations – even when your kids are “too young to appreciate them.” Let your 3 year old help you mow the grass (with your help, of course). Take your kids on a date night, let them stay up late on the weekends watching a move as a family, and so on!
- Love your spouse, especially when things get tough. Your kids are watching you and are looking to you (whether they know it or not) about how to be married, how to resolve conflict, and how to have healthy relationships. These are all modeled through your relationship with your spouse. And, they are especially watching how you two love each other when things are tough. What they see from you is what they will act out and perceive as “normal” in their own relationships.
- Compliment more than you correct. This can be difficult depending on the season of life your kids are in. Right now, we’re in the midst of potty training our 3 year old. I feel like all I do is criticize and correct him. So, I’ve got to make sure that I’m on the lookout for the other areas of his life that he’s doing right – and compliment him! Not only will it help your child maintain a positive self-image, but it will also make the times you need to correct more impactful and less hurtful.
- Understand developmental stages of children. I find that I regularly want my kids to act 3-10 years older than they actually are. This is especially true of my younger kids. In my mind, my 3 year old should be able behave in the same way as my 7 year old. This is simply unfair for my toddler. But, I do the same thing for my 7 year old. I constantly find myself holding him to a standard that would only be appropriate for a 10 or 12 year old. Remember, a 3 year old is going to tell you “no” often. A 7 year old is going to be easily frustrated when learning new things. And, a 12 or 13 year old is going to begin showing signs of pulling away from you and searching for their own independence.
- Establish the importance of authority. Far too many kids are learning from their parents that a teacher that disciplines them is “wrong.” Or, a pastor that corrects or points out dangerous behaviors in the life of their teenager is immediately dismissed as unimportant or ignorant about their child’s situation. Or, that rules are meant to be broken. And the list goes on and on. Those in authority aren’t always right – please don’t get me wrong. However, if you find that your first reaction is that the authority figure in your child’s life is immediately wrong, without digging in to find out the facts and perspectives present, then you may be guilty of this. Especially if you voice these things in front of your kids. It’s similar to your parents stepping in and telling you that you’re raising your kids wrong. Without authority, chaos and disaster are welcomed – and that’s not good for anyone involved.
- Don’t remove pain that is present for a purpose. We love to shield our kids from pain and hurt – both physical and emotional pain. And for very good reason! However, there’s some pain that our children feel that they should feel. I call this pain that’s present for a purpose. It’s the pain that comes when they’ve broken the rules and gotten hurt. In order for them to learn, they need to feel that pain. Otherwise they won’t learn the lesson that is being taught.
- Celebrate milestones and accomplishments in BIG ways. Positive reinforcement is still one of the best ways to bring out the best in people. Our kids are no exception. We should tell them when we notice them doing something good. We should find ways to celebrate the things that they’re doing well. We should go out of our way to help them understand that good behavior will be rewarded.
- Let your kids lose every now and then. I’m not sure how I feel about the culture that is being created where everyone’s a winner. I feel drawn to doing that in my home with my children. When I find a toy that I think would be perfect for one of my kids, I then feel like I need to find one for all of my kids. Or, when I’m playing a game with my kids, I am drawn to the idea that I have to let them win or else they’ll be devastated…or worse, they won’t want to play with me ever again. But, you know, in every loss for a child there’s a lesson to be learned. And I shouldn’t be so quick to rob them of that lesson.
- Help them understand how faith intersects with life. I believe that there has been a noticeable move towards a belief that our faith is personal. And while there are some elements that are true to that mindset, it has caused many, especially in the last couple of generations, to hold back on letting those closest to them in on how their faith impacts their life. So, our kids are growing up without a clear understanding of how mom and dad’s faith is a part of their every day life. “Sure they go to church on Sunday. Yeah, they go to small group on Wednesdays. But, is there more than that?” And we need to answer that in clear terms. Not necessarily in ways that prevents them from exploring how faith will impact their lives, but in a way that let’s them know that your faith matters – not just on Sunday and Wednesday night…but every day!
Well, that’s my list! How about you? Comment below and let’s start a discussion!