Thinking About Parenting


credit - pexels - Andrea Piacquadio

Personal Note: 

I have not posted anything new since March. I appreciate your patience during this time and the emails asking if all is well. I spent my time with my Mom from mid-March until she passed away last month under hospice care. She was a bright light and a grand woman of faith who inspired me every day and still does after her passing. We made the trip to Vail as a family to spread her ashes and the ashes of my Dad and son in the mountains.

The time with her got me thinking about how she raised me. 

This post is dedicated to her. I miss you Mom.

                                                         My Mom💞

Thinking About Parenting

"One hundred years from now it won't matter what your bank account was, the sort of house you lived in, or the kind of car you drove, but the world may be different because you were important in the life of a child." 

-Forest E. Witcraft

The only people who think parenting is easy haven't done it. It is an extremely difficult role to master, especially if you take the responsibility seriously. 

The fact is you never think you've done a good enough job or that you've hit the mark every time. That's true whether your child is 3, 13, or 33.

Parenting is a challenging assignment and I know of no parent who has earned a perfect grade, including myself. But if you are sincere in wanting to improve your parenting skills, there are some common practices that the best parents engage in.

Here are some of my favorite tips and approaches to raising children at any age, and hopefully creating a bond of love and respect that will last the life of your relationship with them.

Tips For Better Parenting

Love Them Unconditionally

Most parents on most days would quickly confirm that they love their children, but can their children just as quickly confirm that they know that they are loved.

Love not shown is love wasted. Hugs and kisses are a great start because a physical embrace is a clear way to make your child feel safe, accepted, and loved. My children are both in their forties and no time together takes place without hugs happening before we part company.

And don't stop there. There is a myriad of ways to express your love to your kids so continually look for ways express beyond words your feelings for them.

Read: Ten Ways to Make Your Children Feel Loved

It should be clear to them from a young age that you may get mad at them or disapprove of something they've done but you will ALWAYS love them.

Make Time Count

Because time is a finite resource and can't be recaptured once it's passed, quality time spent together is a great way to illustrate to your children that they are a priority in your life.

Don't forget to make the time memorable by actively engaging with your child when together. You on your phone and them on their tablet don't qualify as time well spent. 

Initiate interaction by playing board games, enjoying outdoor activities, or sharing time doing something that you know they are passionate about.

Listen With Purpose

One of the great wrecking balls that destroys any person's self-esteem is the feeling that you are not being heard. That goes double for the child who believes that their parents don't care what they think.

Make it a point to be present, focused, and actively listening to your kids when they have something to say. Lean into your conversation with them to capture their thoughts, dreams, feelings, hopes, and fears. 

Ask questions when you need clarification and don't dismiss their worries and challenges as unimportant. And when your child is young sit on the floor or kneel down so that you can interact on their level face-to-face.

"To be in your children's memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today." 

-Barbara Johnson

Celebrate Uniqueness

It is surprisingly easy to fall into the comparison trap as a parent. They can be compared to a sibling, a neighbor's child, a friend's kid, or even to an online presence. Although we can use the attributes of other children to gauge certain growths and milestones, it is an injustice to compare your child to others as a way to validate their worth.

Every person on the planet is unique and has their own contributions to make and when you allow them the freedom to embrace who they are early in life, you set the stage for maximum potential realized.

Avoid labels like "our wild child", "slow reader", "handful", "short-fused", and others that tend to become self-fulfilling. Instead encourage them with positive affirmations such as "enthusiastic", "determined", "spirited", and "passionate".

Be A Living Example

At my Mom's memorial I said, "I got my physical strength and my work ethic from my Dad, and I got my inner strength and faith from my Mom." All that was given to me by the examples provided by how they lived, much more than what they told me.

The phrase, "actions speak louder than words" is never more true than when dealing with raising your children. Every moment of every day together is a visual lesson in how they should live their lives.

They are always watching so be sure to live a life of respect, patience, faith, giving, love, integrity, and kindness. Model behavior that they can draw from when life throws them curveballs and challenges their belief system.

"My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it." 

-Clarence Budington Keller

Support Failure

The love you have for your kids and your parental instincts will motivate you to protect them from harm, failures, and hurt feelings.

 While you'll want to act quickly to prevent accidents that can harm them, stepping in at every situation doesn't allow them to learn from their mistakes, grow as a person, or express their creativity.

And as your kids grow, they should know that your love for them is not based on some measure of perfection. Their mistakes will grow as they do so keep your parenting toolbox full of patience, understanding, and love.

Actions have consequences. Receiving those consequences is one of life's best teachers.

Set Clear Boundaries and Rules

Your children will have many friends during their lifetime. Some friends will come and go, and some will be lifelong companions. Your role in their lives is not to fill a friend slot.

Be a parent.

You have the monumental duty to raise good human beings. That means you must teach your children the difference between right and wrong. You must do that from a position of authority.

Set clear expectations on how you talk to each other and the respect that must flow both ways. 

When rules are broken, ensure that consequences are delivered and that the punishment fits the crime. Back that up with consistency. 

Sometimes (or oftentimes) you'll make a mistake. That's okay. You can lead by example once again by admitting your error, apologizing, and moving on.

"If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent." -Bette Davis

Communicate Calmly and Consistently

I want to personally confess that I had a bad temper. I don't get set off like I used to (that "driver" that shouldn't be on the road can still create a spark), but it's a part of me that I haven't been proud of. I am fortunate that anger didn't make a chasm between me and the ones I love.

It's a trait that I demonstrated to my kids that I wish I could take back. It also accentuates my point that none of us will be perfect parents. Work on those traits you need to but don't let them deter you from the joy of being a parent.

I can attest that every instance I would lose control, or yell, or argue with someone, I was showing my kids how to react when times get tough, or things don't go their way. If you do blow up, apologize and let them know it was wrong.

Show Respect in All Directions

One of the greatest character traits that the "good humans" you're raising can exhibit out in the world are kindness and respect for others.

That lesson starts in the home with the way you treat them, and the way you treat your spouse. 

Show respect to the people in your home and outside your home on a daily basis. The world can sure use a lot more kindness. How you treat others from the bank teller to your co-workers to strangers on the street will set a pattern that will influence your children for the rest of their lives.

Read: Being Kind to Others

Provide Safe Harbor

Your kids need to know that no matter how bad they screw things up, your love will out way your disappointment, and they can always find safe harbor at home.

You want them to not fear placing a call for help when they've put themselves in a bad position or made a choice they know you wouldn't agree with.

Assure them every day that you will always be there to help pick up the pieces. That doesn't mean that you condone the behavior, but that they can never break the bond of love that you have for them.

Final Thoughts on Good Parenting

I was so blessed to have the parents I had. I will not tell you that they were perfect parents. I will tell you that I received both encouragement and punishment, both in a home filled with more love than I could ever measure.

I haven't gotten everything right and neither will you. That's okay. Hit as many as you can of the tips I outlined in today's post, work hard to be consistent, and shower them with unconditional love every single day.

Most importantly, enjoy every moment you have together and make it count. Time will not wait. They will be grown and parents themselves before you know it.

Now go live your best life,