Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Not Missing the Obvious In Parenting

I couldn't find the remote in the hotel room, remember? But it was right there in front of me. Check out my last post if you missed the story. However, like that remote there are obvious parenting keys, like in marriage, that we might also miss, avoid or simply forget about over time if we aren't careful.

Let me offer a few in this entry. First, keep a sense of balance. By balance, I don't mean equality or for us to be 50/50 on everything we do as a mom or dad. But when it comes to encouragement versus correction, for example, many parents aren't even close to healthy. Their children can do no wrong, get abundant praise for every "accomplishment" and are given the impression that they are little angels no matter what they do.

Kids must face the fact that life doesn't always work the way they hoped, that they aren't always perfect and that at times they need to admit their mistakes and learn from them. Everyone else in life is not going to always tell them how great they are.

Or when it comes to stuff or things, keep a similar equilibrium. Even if you have the resources to give your children a lot, don't do it. Balance means our kids are more likely to learn to give as well as receive, that we say "no" some of the time and that they learn to earn some of what they get especially as they get older.

Second, be consistent. Again, consistency doesn't require that we become tyrants or monsters, never wavering on a rule or guideline. But if we say that bedtime is at 8 then it needs to be at eight other than at special times. We need to hold our ground, be firm and in charge. We can learn practical skills that can help us do that appropriately and effectively (see earlier posts) but it helps children (and us) when we keep things the same rather than random.

If we ask our children to do something (being reasonable of course), then they need to learn that we will follow through and hold them to it. Don't make idle threats that you cannot keep . . . ."If you don't pick up your toys right now, you won't go on vacation with us next week," or "You had better get your grades up or you will be grounded until summer."

Be consistent by keeping your word, offering reasonable options when appropriate and following through each time rather than responding later with some big emotional blow up or diatribe.

Third, give your kids your time. I used to hear people say that quality time was more important than quantity time. The problem with that is that younger children can't tell the difference. What three -year -old ever said, "Gee, dad, I know you couldn't play with me very long, but our time together sure was rich!" Our children need to know that we make them a high priority (not THE priority or ONLY one) and that we will give them focused time without distractions.

I know the feeling, however, of coming home from work to find kids eager to take more of my time and energy, resources I had given away all day long. Sometimes there wasn't much left. However, if you're married, you and your spouse can work out some ways to give each of you some time to rest, to share the responsibilities, etc.

You might try, if your kids are old enough, to start with a greeting and a little time when you get home, but then telling the kids they need to play on their own for a short period of time while one or both of you catches your breath from the day.

But don't just play with them either. As you're working together or driving somewhere, talk with them, listen to their successes, struggles and dreams. Ask them what their favorites are or how they feel about something you know happened in their world that day or week.

All of these small actions may seem minor in the scheme of things, but in the end they pay huge dividends for you, your parenting and your children. Maybe all you need to make is a mid-course correction or perhaps you will have to make some major changes. Whatever you do, start now . . . and don't miss the obvious.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

No comments:

Post a Comment