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

Monday, March 7, 2011

Learning to Parent in the Still Water

I've never forgotten an illustration that Pastor Gordon McDonald told years ago, one that I've since learned more about firsthand. When you go whitewater rafting they first teach you the proper techniques, commands and responses to trouble when you are on land. Then once you're in the raft they have you practice while you're in the slowly moving water.  The whole idea is to help you get ready for the challenges of the bigger rapids downstream.

It was an important reminder that it's always foolish to wait to learn how to do anything challenging once you're in the middle of the struggle.  The same is true of parenting.  Our kids are going to test us - our patience, our reactions and our perseverance.  So we must do what we can to prepare in the still waters of our homes for what might happen in the class four and five rapids of everyday life.

Of course we can't prepare for every possibility, but we can do our best.  For example, have you decided what you will do when your child misbehaves in a store, restaurant or other public setting?  Do you know what you will do as they push back when you give them a deadline, time or instruction?  If you're married have you and your spouse agreed on common actions and alternatives that you will use together when your children aren't their normal angelic selves?

Now what you do is up to you.  There are a variety of approaches and responses, many of which are best determined by you the parent who know your child best. Discipline ideas and suggestions are for another time.  But I can't say enough about thinking through your options and strategies ahead of time.

First of all, you will be more confident.  Your child will be less likely to try to get you to respond differently if they see that you aren't willing to waver.  Second, you will be more comfortable being out with your kids.  Third, you will have more success in getting them to respond to your guidelines and direction. Finally, you will be less likely to get out of control and to say or do inappropriate things out of mere frustration and anger.

So, get ready for the rough water.  It's up ahead for sure.  But meet it well, knowing that you are as ready as you'll ever be.  It will be worth the time and you just might find those swirling rapids weren't as bad as you thought!
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

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