Parenting: It’s A Dirty Job But Someone Has To Do It Part 1
It’s a great thing kids are resilient. No, seriously. What would parenting be like if kids didn’t bounce back as easily as they do? Parenting may be the most difficult thing you will ever do in life. There are some great books and blogs on parenting and of course mentors are helpful, but in the end nothing can prepare you for what you are about to go through when you see your first child for the first time. The highs are EXTRAORDINARY. And the lows are, well, extraordinarily bad.
My wife & I were recently talking about the lessons we’ve learned since becoming parents and this is the first in a series of blogs we thought we would share. Some of these things we learned from doing the wrong things, while others we learned from people who gave us good advice. The list is by no means exhaustive, and we are in no way perfect, but hopefully there are a few things here that you’ll find helpful. So without further ado:
DON’T BE AFRAID TO DISCIPLINE
Discipline, these days, seems to have a negative connotation, but disciplining your children in an appropriate way is one of the most important jobs you have as a parent. Setting boundaries is not just a good idea, it’s necessary for your child’s health, both physically and emotionally. Done in the right way, it’s even ok to be strict. Our children need to know that when we have set a boundary, we will follow through with the consequences of breaking it.
A few pointers to help you be successful when disciplining your child:
- Be consistent with the boundaries and the consequences. Nobody likes it when the boundary lines are always moving or the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.
- Never discipline your child when you are angry. Take a deep breath. Chill out. I have overreacted many times when I was disciplining one of our kids and every time I have regretted it. As a child, I can still remember punishments that came from anger rather than loving justice. If you do this for too many years, it can cause real damage to your relationship with your child.
- On a similar note, don’t yell at your kids, and don’t let your kids yell at you. I’ve seen too many parents, including myself, yell at their kids. Again, take a deep breath; don’t just react in the moment. Additionally, I’ve seen too many parents let their kids yell at them. That’s never appropriate. You are their parent and they should treat you with respect.
- This might be the most important of the caveats: you can’t be strict without relationship. Well, you can, but I don’t think you’ll like what it produces. When you have relationship. When you insert fun and humor. When you understand how to give mercy. Then discipline, even when you are strict, will be balanced appropriately and your child will understand it comes from a place of love and concern.
BE PRESENT IN YOUR CHILD’S LIFE
I have one of those jobs that can take me out of the house or otherwise make me absent for long periods of time leading up to big work events, so I know what it’s like to feel the pressure of work pulling you away from your family physically and mentally. However, as parents we have to work hard to be present in our child’s life. I can’t emphasize how important this is.
Here are a few practical ways to be present:
- Have family meals together. For many years I worked during the day and had meetings a few nights a week, but I always flexed my schedule so that I could be home for dinner, even if I had to go back to work at night. Family time around the dinner table is incredibly important to show your child how valuable they are to you, as well as offering opportunities to instill your values in them.
- Find common interests that you can share with your kids. Whether it’s a sport, baking, art, music, games, hiking or even a TV show, find something you can do together as a family or one-on-one with your child. There are so many memories and conversations that can be created out of these events.
We’d love to hear back from you about any parenting lessons you have learned. Feel free to leave us a comment below.
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