The first word in parenting is parent. You will remember in our last post we talked about the importance of continuing to grow in love with your spouse as the first step in making parenting easier. Today, we will discuss parenting advice, steps two and three.
Second: Don’t sweat the small stuff!
They’ll eventually stop throwing the toys out of the toy box and the pots and pans out of the kitchen cabinets. They’ll learn to brush their teeth and take a shower. But, kids are messy! Get used to it while they are learning to be neat.
Eat what you and your spouse like, mash some of it, and put it on their plates. If they don’t like it, that’s OK. They’ll get hungry enough to eat long before they starve or become vitamin deficient. And most important they’ll learn to eat all kinds of food.
When they start kindergarten, get them an alarm clock and teach them how to use it. If they don’t get up on their own, they miss school with all the consequences. They’ll learn to be self-governed, a first step in maturing.
Provide a place for them to do their homework. Don’t do it for them or sit with them. If you sit with them, they’ll do all in their power to use you as a distraction or get you to do their work. Give them an allotment of time to get it done and leave them alone. Read a book or work on a hobby. But don’t think you can watch TV while they are forced to work. They’ll tell you it isn’t fair and it isn’t!
They will learn independence and best of all, gain self-esteem by doing for themselves and knowing you have confidence in them.
Third: Be the kind of person you want them to become.
Every study shows that the parent’s behavior is the number one factor that determines a child’s adult behavior. If you want your kids to become men and women of character, be a man or woman of character.
Now I am sure many of you will wonder if these three little steps will really make parenting easier. Let me explain with an example.
Several years ago, I cared for a family in which the parents yelled at the kids about every little thing they did. In the community, it was easy to note that they yelled at each other as well. When they both came into my office each discussion was punctuated with a loud “conversation” between the two of them. After some counseling in communicating and learning how to disagree without yelling, they were surprised to notice their kids stopped yelling, too.
Not everything is this easy to see, but look at the things that give you concern in your children and see how your behavior, and that of your spouse, may be contributing to it.
Don’t be concerned that your kids don’t hear everything, be concerned that they see everything you do!