Is strong parenting a goal for you? The beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate life–what is working for us? What is not working?
What is working for you in your parenting? Where do you see the need for improvement? What areas do you want to work on? I encourage you to take a few minutes and think about changes you’d like to make and goals you’d like to set when it comes to strong parenting.
Many people do this for dieting, fitness, and finances, but forget about evaluating and planning for the most important job they have–the job of parenting.
As you forge into a new year, I’d like to give you two directives on how to parent strong. No matter how old your kids are, if you are having problems or not, or how much time and energy you have to think about your parenting skills–take a few minutes to think about these keys to making your parenting strong in 2021.
Commit to Working on YOURSELF
I’ve talked to parents over and over who want to take time for themselves, but in the next breath, they claim that they just don’t have the time. Thus, they get stuck in a vicious cycle of frustration, weariness, and short-changing their kids in the process.
Parenting strong means that you have to set aside time to work on yourself. Self-care can take on many forms: exercising, friendships, counseling, coaching, hobbies, continuing education, etc.
Don’t put it off until the kids are gone. Don’t make excuses that the kids are taking up all of your time or that you can’t afford it. Your kids need the best you they can get and if you neglect to care for yourself, they are the ones who will eventually feel the brunt of that decision.
Commit to Sowing
There are no shortcuts in parenting. No quick fixes. In fact, parents have a lot in common with farmers.
Ever meet a farmer who takes shortcuts in his work? Neither have I. The farmer knows that nature doesn’t do shortcuts. You clear the land, till the earth, and plant the seeds. You fertilize, weed, and water day-after-day. You do your work and let time and nature do their thing. Only then, after a lot of hard work and patience, does the harvest come. Then, even bringing in the harvest is more work.**
This sowing philosophy is known as the Law of the Harvest: You only reap what you first sow.
Instead of the farm, most of us learned our work ethic in school. Only school, unlike nature, didn’t do a very good job teaching us the Law of the Harvest. Schools teach us how to “cram.” Forget putting in the time slowly over the semester by building a strong foundation and learning how all the pieces fit together. That takes too much time and effort! Instead of planting, watering, and then harvesting, many of us found ourselves wanting to jump straight to the harvest.**
Parents also fall into the trap of wanting to jump straight ahead to the “harvest.” They want quick fixes with cut-and-dried disciplines that are guaranteed to work. They want to see results in the first couple of weeks of a new “parenting strategy”. They get impatient when it doesn’t “work” after a couple of months.
But effective parenting doesn’t work that way. It’s a slow and steady investment, day-after-day. You have to pay the price. You have to plant the seeds and water the soil and fertilize the baby plants. Parenting is not hunting, it’s farming. It takes time, time, patience, and more time. It takes doing the same good things over and over and over and over, even if you don’t see the results you want to see as quickly as you think you should see them.
The point is that parents must do things daily that will build over time. There are no shortcuts to meaningful results. Not for the farmer, and not for parents either.
No matter how old your children are, it’s never too late. Although the best time to have planted a tree is 20 years ago; the next best time is today. Here are some ways to do things daily that will produce results:
Create routines in your family: plan a certain amount of dinners together each week, have a morning breakfast routine that includes some type of conversation as they head off for the day, have a bedtime routine. Make some family traditions that happen when you celebrate birthdays or special achievements. Create routines that include time for the family to talk and connect.
Set aside time for yourself each day. Whether it’s waking up a few minutes earlier or taking a few minutes before you go to sleep, spend some quiet time evaluating your day: are you planting seeds and tending to your crop as a parent?
Schedule family time. At the beginning of every week or month, put family time on the calendar. Don’t wait to do it spontaneously (although that can happen too), plan for it! Let your kids know to plan for it. Don’t let other things shove it off the calendar.
Keep doing what you know is right. Farmers know it’s right to water and fertilize and they keep doing it, even if nothing pops up right away. Remember, you are farmers, not hunters as parents, and you must keep doing what you know is right. If it’s NOT working, then re-evaluate, get some advice and wisdom. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and guidance. But most likely, if you know that what you are doing is right, then it will eventually produce results. “Eventually” may not be as soon as you’d like, but hang in there!
Sometimes, sowing feel like it’s not working or it’s just too hard. But those small things that you are doing daily (like telling your child you love them and that you believe in them, modeling honesty and compassion to them, taking time to listen and teaching them to communicate) will build over time.
There is an order to it. It’s not complex. It’s not magical. And it’s certainly not glamorous.
It’s really pretty simple. But it’s not easy. It’s wisdom hiding in plain sight. And in today’s world of shortcuts and schemes, it’s common sense uncommonly applied.**
Make the most of 2021
Don’t let 2021 make the most of you; take the bull by the horns and up your parenting game. Commit to making it stronger. Don’t let another year go by with you wishing you’d done things differently when it comes to your kids.
If you are ready to commit to strong parenting, let’s talk. Schedule a free consultation here.
**From The Law of the Harvest.