As parents of four young kids, we often wished that the maternity ward sent them home with an owner's manual . . . and maybe a volume control knob.
We were overwhelmed with the responsibility of shaping four new lives and lived in fear that we could create four little monsters that we couldn't handle as toddlers, let alone as teens.
Since we only have our kids in our homes for 20 years, how do we effectively launch them for their 80-ish years on this earth? Here are my top parenting tips that I have picked up over the past 25 years:
- Start early - work with your kids like they are wet cement - the most formative years are the early ones.
- Discipline your child - not beat or berate. Webster's dictionary defines discipline as "training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character."
If we do not train our kids (and all training involves aspects of discipline), the discipline will fall to employers, police officers and judges, who will be progressively harsher. I think the harshest discipline of all would involve the child's peers, where unacceptable behaviour leads to their rejection - and no parent would ever want to see their child go through a lifetime of this.
As parents, you love your kids more than anyone else in this world-it is far better that they receive training from you than any other.
- Get to know your kids - remember that physical proximity does not equal personal knowledge and I am speaking to dads especially here. In a kid's world, little things are big.
For Father's Day, my son's kindergarten teacher asked him to draw a picture of his favourite time with me. He promptly drew a picture of two smiling stick-men in a pickup truck. When he presented the coloured picture to me, I asked him what his favourite time with me was. He answered "the time when we went in the truck to the lumber store."
It was just a simple trip to buy some lumber, yet it had more impact than a wallet-busting trip to Disneyland.
Dads, take them along wherever you go. There are divorced dads out there that would give their eye teeth to have that opportunity with their kids.
- Lead by example - more is caught than taught. Be the parent that you want your kids to eventually be.
No double standards. My nine year old once called me a hypocrite - that sure set me straight. And I did not know he even knew the meaning of the word.
- It's OK to mess up - say sorry to your kids and to God, tell them every day that you love them and are proud of them and pray with them - they need to know what that looks like.
- Lastly, raising kids is not that complex - the terrible twos are not that terrible, neither are the teens.
- Dave Schapansky is a pastor at Abbotsford Christian Assembly. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.