Being a parent is complicated. It is hard work. There are no one-size-fits-all answers because every family dynamic is different, every child is unique and every home faces its own special challenges.
But at the same time, there are over-riding principles that can apply to every household, whether you are a single parent, a blended family or a home that faces uncommon trials.
Every mom or dad who parents with these three facts in mind–regardless of the circumstances in your home–can be confident that they are building a strong foundation in their home that will result in raising children who become champions in life: strong, compassionate, and full of integrity.
Adopt these three truths into the fabric of your parenting and you will transform your parenting approach.
There are No Quick Fixes in Parenting
I’ve read many parenting books, listened to many podcasts and speakers, and sought the advice of parenting experts for many years, and I wish I could tell you that I’ve found some parenting “hacks” that will “fix” your kids and guarantee their whining turns into compliance, their messiness into neatness, and their irresponsibility into responsibility within a reasonable and comfortable amount of time.
But there are no quick fixes in parenting. You are in this for the long haul and you cannot “fix” your kids with one simple new discipline method or by following the newest three step parenting program.
When parents come to me for help, they are often looking for ways to “fix” their kids. I tell them that I cannot do that. Instead, I focus on giving parents tools to use in their parenting that will result in long-term “fixes.”
In this instant world, it is easy to get caught up in seeking quick answers. But parenting solutions that really work are rarely that easy.
Why is this important for parents to grasp? Because if you are looking for quick fixes then you will become frustrated, which leads to lashing out at your kids, or worse yet, leaving them to parent themselves.
But if you accept that there are no quick fixes in parenting and that you are involved in the very complicated process of raising a human, then you will give yourself and your child some grace.
You Will Reap What You Sow
Parenting is more like farming than hunting. I talked about this a few weeks ago when I pointed out that parents have a lot in common with farmers.
The idea is that a farmer will harvest what he has sown, This sowing philosophy is known as the Law of the Harvest: You only reap what you first sow, a philosophy that applies to parenting too.
Effective parenting is 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. You have to do a lot of sowing, a LOT. Parenting 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.
I can’t promise much when it comes to parenting strategies, but I can promise you this: As a parent, you will reap what you sow into your kids.
That fact should shake up every single parent and cause them to examine exactly what they are sowing into their kids and into their relationship with their children. You cannot expect to raise kids who you have a good relationship with if you are not prioritizing that relationship when they are growing up.
Remember the words to that old Harry Chapin song, “Cats in the Cradle?” If not, take a minute and read it. It should convict every parent to be more intentional about what you are sowing into your family.
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you, dad”
“You know I’m gonna be like you”
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
“When you coming home, dad?” “I don’t know when”
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then
My son turned ten just the other day
He said, thanks for the ball, dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw, I said- not today
I got a lot to do, he said, that’s okay
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed
It said, I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him
Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?
He shook his head, and he said with a smile
What I’d really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?
I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, I’d like to see you if you don’t mind
He said, I’d love to, dad, if I can find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me
Be intentional about what you sow into your kids. Yes, it takes work and planning, but the result (the harvest) will be well worth it.
Parents Must Parent Themselves Too
As I mentioned earlier, parents often come to me wanting ways to “fix” their kids’ behavior. I had one parent even call me asking for “a new way to punish his child” because the old ways weren’t working.
But the first thing I tell them is that I cannot fix their child’s behavior. However, I CAN give them tools to use in their parenting. You see, parenting is often more about how you respond to your child’s behavior than any discipline you put on them.
If you are going to parent your child successfully and effectively, you must start by parenting yourself. What do I mean by that? Simply that you must work on your own responses and motivations FIRST. What is it that bothers you about your child’s behavior? Might your reaction be more about something inside of YOU rather than what your child is doing?
The honest truth is that parenting yourself is an 18+ year-long process. I truly believe that as your kids grow up, you will grow too, if you seek to. Be teachable in your parenting. Be open to looking at yourself and evaluating your reactions. Be willing to examine what in your past makes you parent as you do. If you do, you will grow as a parent and as a person.
Take some time to chew on these three insights I’ve shared. Ask yourself how you are doing with each one. Give your parenting the premeditation that your children deserve. Don’t settle for winging it and hoping for the best each day. It can be so much more rewarding if you put in the work.
If you’d like to get some more parenting tools, schedule a free call and let’s talk.