As I contemplated writing a few basics of parenting, I realized that what I write in this post would most certainly overlap a bit with the remainder of my posts in this series. With that in mind, I will not go into great detail on each point here. However, there are a few basics that hold true no matter what stage we are at in the parenting journey. There are certain things that help us tremendously whether we are trying to teach a two year old to obey or are giving advice to our twenty-somethings–
The first is humility. There is no great relationship without humility. It is what drives us to make genuine apologies. Humility is what allows us to show our vulnerability. It keeps us from being defensive and so quickly offended. It is the only way we are truly able to have a healthy relationship with our kids — and with anyone else, for that matter. Our kids need to know that we aren’t perfect, we don’t have all the answers, and that we know we mess up (they already know it and can’t figure out why we won’t just admit it!) Being willing to take an honest look at our failures and bad habits and apologize to our children when we fail goes great, great lengths in healing and strengthening a relationship.
Our kids also need to know that they are unconditionally loved no matter what. This isn’t so hard when they are little and so incredibly cute when they are naughty. It does become a little more difficult as they grow up and start smart-mouthing us. And then they start making decisions that go against everything you taught them or embarrass you or ruin your reputation. And your love starts being tested. But, no matter what they do, our children should never have to wonder if they are loved. If you aren’t sure if they know that you love them, then tell them right now. Today. Even if they are fifty years old. Age doesn’t seem to make much of a difference with this one. I’ve seen middle-aged men and women still yearning for the love and approval of their parents.
Make reasonable expectations and then be consistent in handing out consequences when the expectations aren’t met. This is one of the toughest parenting jobs there is. I will write much more on this throughout the month.
Remember the responsibility of being a parent. We aren’t here to be a buddy or even a friend (although that often eventually happens later) We are obligated to be the best parent we can be. We can help our kids walk with God or we can hinder it. What are we going to choose? Responsibility means doing the hard stuff even when we don’t feel like it. And, quite honestly, taking the easy route today creates the very difficult path of tomorrow. As they grow into adults, our responsibility changes but we are still responsible to be an encouraging and supportive parent.
Communication can never be underestimated. Being a good parent means talking and discussing (not preaching) and listening and hours and hours of time. No matter what their ages, we are a good parent to our precious children by communicating with them.
And, finally, we can never stop praying for them. God steps in and takes over when we are hopeless. He supplies strength where we are weak. He loves our children more than we do. Prayer does amazing things. God cares about even the smallest thing. Why do we seem to have such a hard time making time for prayer?
These are a few basics of being a good Christian parent for children of any ages. Can anyone think of any others? I am sure I missed a few!
The next post in this series will be about marriage as it relates to parenting.