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

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Real Parents Actually Parent

There are all sorts of things we can purchase these days that look like the real thing. You can find faux leather, fake diamonds and a luxury countertop that only looks like granite. When you're buying something that only mimics the original it's called a knock off and we have to constantly make sure we're not ripped off.

To be fair, there's nothing wrong with having a less expensive version of something if it saves us a little money and still works well, as long as it's not illegal.

But it's different with parenting. A fake version isn't acceptable or effective. It's really just a cheap substitute and can be harmful or damaging in the long run. Too many parents only think they're parenting well when in reality they're for the most part faux moms and dads.

A few samples of fake parenting might be . . .

Having discussions all the time with the kids instead of enforcing the rules.  "You need to get ready for bed," typically leads to "wait a minute" or "as soon as I'm done," rather than immediate, yet calm, action that gets the child to do what was asked. Instead of the child heading to their room mom or dad gets into a discussion with the child or children about why they can't obey at the moment. There's a place of healthy discussions with children, but not at the expense of obedience and fair discipline.

Giving children everything instead of expecting them to pitch in. Even little children can do small chores and bigger ones can handle larger responsibilities. Real moms and dads aren't always picking up the kids' clothes, cleaning their rooms and putting away their dishes or food. There can come a time when children are given an allowance and expected to contribute to certain things they want, give money away or to church and save for something in the future. Parents just manage these moments.

Making empty threats and not keeping our word.  This is another version of the first one, but extends into other promises such as expectations for school, attitudes and actions towards others. It's essential that husbands and wives stay on the same page here and not undermine each other's authority and leadership. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Spending more time watching sons and daughters participate in activities rather than building relationships and making memories.  Parenting today has in many ways become a glorified taxi service where mom and dad are expected to oversee a multi-faceted schedule, a fleet of family cars and an ever-being-drained pool of income to support it all.

Real parents talk to their kids, limit their commitments and engage in learning, growth and fun activities together.

There are lots more examples. Take a look around and see where you too might be unintentionally faking it.

You see fake parents produce fake, shallow, boring families. Fake parents ultimately hurt their children and keep them from being all God intended.  There's a better way. But you'll have to be willing to invest a little more, maybe a lot more - time, energy, emotion and even prayer. You'll have to do some hard things, not always be popular and put up with more push back and griping. 

But sometimes it's worth the extra price to get the real thing, isn't it? Splurge. Live it up. When it comes to parenting, quality matters!

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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