I used to know everything. And then I became a parent.
Apparently, raising kids is one of the most natural things that you can do…people have been doing it for years! The strange thing is, kids don’t come with an instruction manual. Not that I would read it…I am a man, after all…but it would be nice to know that it exists!
In my nearly 4 years as a parent I have learned a few helpful things that I’d like to pass on to you today. My knowledge is by no means extensive…which is why next week my wife Holly will be sharing her thoughts on the subject as well…but I have seen the following “nuggets” as very useful on the journey of parenting. Here goes…
- Kids don’t do what you say, they do what you do. Trust me, kids figure this out early! If you tell them to eat their vegetables while going to town on ice cream…your authority will not have the impact you want it to. You are the model for how they make decisions. Show them the right steps to take, and with each step they will trust you more.
- My relationship with my wife is the most important earthly relationship. I love my kids, but the reality is that one day they will leave. The goal in parenting is to prepare them to live without you. This is a truth that I have learned to share with them early by modeling to them that my favorite person in the world is Holly. Nothing will come between us, including my wonderful kids. Let them know that your spouse comes first.
- Fight for face-to-face time. Especially in the early years of parenting, there are a lot of side-by-side interactions with your spouse. That’s normal. Parenting is tough, and you have to lean on each other and work towards a common goal. But if you don’t fight to keep your focus on your spouse, that “side-by-side” will shift to “back-to-back” and you’ll miss out on the marital intimacy that God desires for your life.
- Give the “why” before they need the “why”. Don’t wait to your kids are in middle school to explain the reasoning behind your decisions. The more you involve them in the process of choosing family activities, friends, hobbies, etc., the less they will ask why later. The “why” of your family decisions should be clear and consistently communicated even before they can fully understand the cognitive process.
- Partner with the local church. Parenting is tough, and I wouldn’t want to do it outside of the body of Christ. Following Christ is a team sport, and I’m grateful that God allows us to experience community in our pursuit of Him. Get involved with a group of people with your values that can encourage you and speak truth into your kids. It will make a huge difference!