After spending over thirty years with children and parents, we
have developed 5 basic parenting tips that will change how you feel about being
a parent. These are such basic tips, yet they are fundamentally going to change
how you think and behave towards your children.
They are nothing new, they are common sense tips.
Tip #1: Have a Purpose in Your Parenting:
When you become a parent for the first time, no
one gives you the manual. You must figure it out on your own as parents. Some
of us do it the way our parents did. Some of us read the latest books on
parenting. Some of us just go at it one day at a time. None of the above ways
are wrong. You, as parents, need to have a reason, or purpose, to the
parenting. Do you want to rear dependent, needy children? Maybe you want your
child to live with you forever, or at least next door. Would you rather produce
independent, self-sufficient children? You may want your children to travel the
world and explore new places. Whatever your choice, you will be the one to
determine this in how you parent your children.
My husband and I determined early on that we wanted to raise
our children to be independent, competent Christian adults. We knew we would
have so much fun with our adult children if we were successful in our
purposeful parenting. We started early giving them opportunities to make
decisions and see the results, either as consequences or rewards. We encouraged
reading and education, as well as giving them opportunities to do things on
their own. In doing so, we did not hover over them, blame others when our child
made a mistake or error, or allow them to not take responsibility for their
actions. It is hard to see you child fall down and not want to help them up.
Yet, in the end, by falling and getting up on their own, they learn to be
confident even when they make a mistake.
Tip #2: Say it Once.
Do not repeat yourself. Children are trained to know when to REALLY listen. I
learned this the hard way. One early summer day I had prepared lunch for my
children who were playing right outside the kitchen on the patio. I could hear
them because the window was open. I had done such a great job on their peanut
butter and jelly sandwiches, even cutting them into hearts with the cookie
cutter. I went to the window and said, “Kids, lunch is on the table!” I watched
them continue to play for a moment or two, then said it again, a little louder.
I stood there watching them ignore me! I got madder and madder. Then the oldest
said, “Did mom call us to lunch?” My son replied to her, “Yes, but she has two
more calls before she really means it.” What an eye opener for me! I had
trained my kids to not come at the first call, but the fourth one!
If you mean it, just say it once. It will be hard to
re-train them and yourself, but you will be happier when you do!
Tip #3: Give Them a Choice:
Whenever possible give them a choice instead of a command. Children
have little control over their life. They need to learn how, and giving them
choices teaches them this important life lesson. Giving a child the choice to
choose between a positive and negative helps them learn how to make the right
choice and they learn about consequences. Unless you want your child living
with you forever, begin now giving them a choice instead of a hard and fast
A great example of this came to me from a parent friend. Her
daughter had the job of unloading the dishwasher, which was not her favorite
thing to do. The daughter would refuse, throw a fit or just ignore had a choice
of either doing the job right then and being free to play, OR she could go to
her room until she was ready to do the job. Now this meant mom had to wait for
her to decide, but the girl learned that sitting in her room was not what she
really wanted to be doing. She wanted to be playing, so the next time the
choice came along she made the “right” choice of doing the job immediately. It
does not always go this smoothly the first time, but once you begin giving
choices and not drawing lines in the sand, the child will respond.
Tip #4: Technology
and Our Families: It is hard to imagine our lives today without any kind of
technology. Don’t believe me? Try going the day without any technology! Do not
use your cell phone, iPad, computer, TV, etc.
You will be amazed at how helpless you feel. Your children have been
raised in a world with information and entertainment at their fingertips. They
do not know that televisions come with buttons to change a channel or turn the
power on. They do not know a world without microwaves and DVD’s. Our lives are
constantly being bombarded with trivial information, to the point they do not
know what is important to listen to now. No wonder so many suffer from ADHD and
All technology is only as good as the user. As the parents,
do you have standards of use and time limitations on “screen time”? Is there on
central place all electronics are turned in at night to be “charged” (and
inspected if need be)? Talk to your children about the positive and negative
uses of the internet and Youtube. Let them know what you expect from them and
how you are going to monitor them. Children, as well as adults, need to know
the rules of the house and how to protect themselves. Parents should know how
to access any Facebook, Instagram, or website your child has.
Tip #5: Children as Adults:
Parenting does not last forever, if you have chosen to raise
independent children. Once your child is in their mid-teens, you have taught
them all you are going to as a parent. You will continue to guide and assist
them as they travel towards adulthood. If the lines of communication stays open
and trust is there, they will continue to seek you out for advice and help
along the way. This is when the “choices” should pay off. They know how to make
a choice because you have given them plenty of opportunity to practice. They
developed an understanding or rewards and/or consequences. You have provided
the foundation of education, love and support they need to have the confidence
to try, and sometimes fail, on their own.
Parenting is not for the weak or the weary. It is a great
challenge. It is a wonderful experience as well. You can decide to make changes
anywhere along the path and have great results. You just have to know your
purpose, say it once, give them choices and guide them through the pitfalls of
modern technology. Your parents and their parents before them did the same