Parenting

The ABCs of Parenting

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Happy, happy we will be

When we know our ABCs

Accept that there will always be some things you can’t change.  We are guides, not surgeons, in our children’s lives.

Believe that your relationship can still be happy and healthy even when your kids don’t behave the way you’d hope they would.  We can delight in who they are even when we don’t like what they’re doing.

Change yourself first.  The qualities we need to acquire in the process of parenting are the same for many of us: greater patience, loving responses, firm but kind guidance…

Discover the depths of your love, courage, resourcefulness, and grace.  These are the things we need to tap into as we meet the challenges of raising kids.

Engage with your kids.  Avoid multitasking when you’re with your kids, at least some of the time; they need eye contact and undivided attention to feel loved and valued.

Fight the urge to fix everything for them and within them.  We need to give our kids the space to make their own choices and recover from their own mistakes.

Gather with other parents to commiserate, encourage, discuss… We need to be open to giving and receiving support from other parents; by sharing this journey within community, we grow.

Humour your kids when you can.  It’s easy to dismiss childish concerns, but in taking the time to tickle away the monsters under the bed or hear all about teddy’s adventures we honour our little ones and help them know that they’re important to us.

Imagine what it will be like when they’re grown.  When we think of the future and how we’ll look back on this time, it gives us clarity about which things are worthy of our time and energy, and what we should let slide.

Joke with and about your kids.  Humour provides relief, release, and perspective.

Keep trying, even when you feel like giving up.  We all have days when we feel like we’re just treading water; find a shoulder to cry on, pray for strength, and carry on – parenting is a long term investment.

Listen when they want to talk.  It’s easy to become habitually dismissive (especially during their garrulous phases), but we must practice taking time so that we don’t miss our kids’ most important communications.

Make memoriesWe should buy the ice cream cone, try the science experiment, create traditions – these are the practices that underscore our family life and add meaning to the mundane.

Nurture your family through the everyday tasks you perform.  Thinking of cooking or chauffeuring or communicating as nurture helps us to infuse these duties with love and kindness.

Observe your kids in different settings.  Watching our kids with others provides us with clues about how well they’ve internalised our family values and how easy or difficult they might be finding social situations.

Pray.  In parenting we plumb the depths of disenchantment and experience the pinnacles of human existence – often all in the same day.  Bringing our triumphs and struggles before God allows us to tap into His strength and wisdom when our own wells would run dry.

Quell your fears and tread confidently in your decisions.  Knowing where and why we’ve set boundaries helps us to stand firm while allowing us to be flexible in our parenting.

Respect yourself and your kids enough to own your mistakes and apologise when necessary.  Admitting our own weaknesses and learning from our errors encourages them to do the same.

Show mercy and grace at every opportunity.  This is how we practise and teach compassion.

Teach by example.  When we are intentional about modelling right behaviour for our children, we let them see our values in action (and actions speak louder than words).

Understand where the parent leaves off and the child begins.  When we don’t acknowledge the division between us as parents and the choices our kids make, we misappropriate their triumphs and their failures for ourselves.

Voice concerns and hopes to your children.  By sharing our hearts with our kids we give them the opportunity to make decisions that are informed by our greater wisdom and experience.

Walk the walk.  Kids abhor hypocrisy; it is vital that our words and our actions are complementary.

X & O (Kiss and hug) your kids often!  Even when they wriggle out of our hugs or dodge our kisses, we must offer physical demonstrations of our love – even just a squeeze of the arm or a gentle ruffling of their hair lets them know that we care.

Yield on the unimportant things.  In choosing our battles wisely we avoid becoming wrapped up in conflict over unimportant things and help our kids to differentiate between negotiables and non-negotiables in our family.

Zigzag towards your parenting goals.  The path to mature, responsible, respectful adult kids almost never runs straight; we should be prepared for the detours and navigate closer to our ultimate goals over time.

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