Being a parent is like jumping out of an airplane. You have only one chance to get it right. By the time we figure it out, it’s all over. I want to be a great parent. I want to figure some stuff out before Abram and Callie leave the house. Believe me, I am no expert, but I have some insight that might be helpful if you are on the same journey as me. Some of this I learned because I paid attention to what really great parents were doing with their children and some of this I learned from my own painful failures.
1. Be there
The more time you spend with your kids, the less money you will have to spend on guilt offerings. You know what I mean. You work nonstop and then spend huge amounts of money on gifts or trips to make up for your absence. If you spend consistent time, your kids will not care as much about the trips or gifts. All they ever really wanted was lots of hang time anyway. I have a demanding job that requires a lot of hours and emotional energy, so I understand how tough this can be. Say no to more stuff, manage your time well during the day and get home as soon as possible.
2. Be a filter
What they see and what they hear will go a long way in determining our children’s values and worldview. Pam and I have always been very conservative with the movies, cartoons, video games and music we allow in our home. There are lots of great shows and movies for kids today, but there is also a lot of media that is crude, sexual, and violent. Just because the characters on the screen are animated does not mean it is suitable for kids to watch. Preview the movies, watch the shows first and then let your kids watch it. Also, only let your kids go to other homes and hang out with other kids that have the same values and make sure the grandparents enforce your media convictions.
3. Be consistent
Say what you mean and mean what you say. The rules today will be the rules for tomorrow. Don’t make a lot of rules, but please enforce the few you have. Kids want boundaries, but get frustrated when the boundaries are not clear or when the boundaries constantly change. Become a predictable parent and you will most likely get predictable kids with fairly predictable behavior.
4. Be rested
This is one of the biggest mistakes young parents make. They take their kids on all day shopping trips and then wonder why their kids are throwing fits in the mall at 8pm. They did not have a nap and they are exhausted. That is not their fault. They need a routine that includes lots of rest and some quiet time. We flood their senses with outside stimulation and then wonder why they are wired to the ceiling and acting like little monsters. Plan your day around their rest schedule and make sure they are home at night and you will get better behavior.
5. Be passionate
Kids who become passionate followers of Jesus either come from homes where Jesus was not mentioned or they come from homes where the parents were passionate for Jesus. Lukewarm parents rarely produce passionate children. If we are casual in our beliefs, our kids will reject those beliefs altogether once they leave our homes. It would be better for our kids if we were pagans than if we told them we love Jesus, but produced no evidence to prove it to them. Kids can spot posers, especially if the posers are their parents.