Still in the midst of raising children, I find myself often questioning how I’ve handled something, my response to different things, my actions, my choice of words….whatever it may be. I question, I wonder, I doubt my parenting skills and not because I feel like I’m doing it all wrong, but because I know that I am human. I make mistakes as I am still learning as well. Each child is different. Their actions, their words, their thoughts, their reactions, their priorities….all different. Age is a factor. Mentality is a factor. Personality is a factor. Second-guessing oneself is really the pits.
Recently, I met someone a consider my friend. She’s a really great mom. She always acts so calm and collected. She never seems to lose her temper and has the patience of a saint. I know that we shouldn’t compare ourselves in any facet of our life with anyone else because I realize each on of is created exactly how God intended us to be. Sometimes, when I’m feeling like the worst parent in the world, I admire the kind of parent my friend is. However, I realize that although she may be a good parent to her children, she may have the patience of a saint, she may have it all together, I don’t know her story. I don’t live in her home so comparisons are moot. And I know that God has blessed me with these wonderful children because He knows I am who can give them what they need, which is true for any parent. At the same time, parents must reach their parenting potential with their children.
Below is a list of just a few things I’ve learned over the years:
- When speaking with children, speak to them on their level (height-wise). For a long while now, when I speak with my kids, I make sure to have their attention by either sitting down so we are face-to-face or standing with them as some are close to my height. The ones that are taller, are teenagers and pay more attention when spoken to.
- Discern where the problem is exactly before dolling out punishment. For instance, if my girls are pushing one another or screaming at the top of their lungs, the first thing I do is find out where the problem started so I can walk them through solving the problem. For instance, one took a toy from another (let’s face it, this happens constantly) so she who lost the toy slaps the one who took it and chaos ensues. By determining the problem, I can then explain that one shouldn’t take toys, but it’s also not okay to slap or in any other way cause harm to another. Knowing the ‘why’ for the behavior helps to remove the behavior.
- Redirection works pretty well in most situations. I have found that the more stubborn a child is, the less redirection does work, but with some coaxing it will.
- A big cause of concern for me over my years of parenting is bribing children. This in no way teaches a child anything. Yes, it does get the behavior that a parent is looking for, but a child walks away learning that he/she only has to act in an unreasonable manner to gain the reward. The child is not learning the behavior is wrong. The child is not learning the proper behavior. The child is not learning self-control.
- Most of all, it’s not the quantity of time spent with a child, it’s the quality. How a parent engages with their child is much more important than how much time is spent with the child. In a half-hour outing, fully engaged (talking, playing, focused interaction), a parent accomplishes so much more than the parent who sits ideally with their child for a whole afternoon, each focused on their own thing (tv, computer, yard work, etc). Both times spent with child benefit the child, but the more focused a parent is on time spent the better off not only will the child be, but also the parent-child relationship.
Children are blessings from above. A parents’ responsibility to raise these blessings in a way that is pleasing to God is a responsibility placed upon us that He knows we can fulfill.