Do you often feel like each day is a parenting guessing game? A crapshoot of trying to figure what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting your kids to cooperate?
When my oldest was born, over 33 years ago, it only took a few weeks for me to reach a point of frustration, wishing that my challenging baby girl had come with an owner’s manual.
Because our kids do not come with instructions on how to handle them, parents are left to figure out this enormous job on their own. The variety of parenting strategies range from “winging it” to “I’m the parent, so don’t question me!” and a hundred options in between.
If you would love for your parenting to be more than a crapshoot, I’d like to suggest a few things that will help you move from the never-ending guessing game to solid direction and purpose.
Start With the End Game
What kind of adult do you want your child to become? I’m not talking about their vocation, their location, or even their marital status, but rather what sort of person they are.
If you want your child to become a hard-working, honest, compassionate adult full of integrity, then you must aim for that in your everyday parenting.
Sit down with your spouse (if you are a single parent, I’d suggest you brainstorm this with a trusted friend or parent) and decide what you are aiming for as your parent. Keep that goal in mind as you face daily challenges. Ask yourself, “How will this situation help our child learn about honesty, compassion…..etc?”
Remember, if you do not have a goal to shoot for, then you will reach it every time.
Set Core Values
One way to help you raise your children to be the adults you’d like them to be is to establish core values in your home.
If you’ve never done this, here’s an easy way to get started: Come up with five value words and turn each of those words into a purpose statement.
For instance, if one of your value words is family, your statement might be: We will prioritize family, and look for ways to consistently strengthen family bonds.
Once you’ve figured out your core values, post them on the fridge, hang them on the wall, talk about them in a family meeting, and weave them into conversations with your kids at the dinner table, in the car, or before bed time. Refer to them when you must discipline your children, pray them over your kids and use them to guide your family in making decisions.
They will not only guide you as you parent, they will be the voice in your child’s head when you are not around.
I feel like “intentional parenting” has become an over-used phrase, but the idea behind it is one that I cannot ignore. Part of being an intentional parent means that I look for ways to work on becoming a better parent; I do not just settle for groping in the dark.
I’ve often felt that being a parent was like walking down a dark hallway, where I’m unable to see to take the next step. So much of the time, parents settle for that when they don’t have to. There are “light switches” that you can turn on to shed some light on those dark hallways of parenting. Those light switches are turned on from mentors, coaches, counselors, and wise people in your lives who give you the tools to see a bit more clearly.
If you want to be intentional in your parenting, you must be willing to ask for help.
It’s funny how adults have no problem doing this in other areas of their lives. When they want to lose weight, they get a fitness coach. When they want to get out of debt, they get a financial coach. When they want to take their business to the next level, they get a business coach.
Why then, is parenting a different matter? Why do parents invest in every other area of bettering themselves and not in their parenting? Raising Your children is the most important job you have to do on this earth. Your investment in them will result in great rewards and your lack of investment in them will result in great regrets.
“Where Do I Start?”
If you are asking yourself this question, here are a couple of suggestions for getting started.
Simply start the conversation with your spouse or a trusted friend. Awareness is the first step.
Get guidance from someone. Start listening to a parenting podcast, read a parenting book, take a parenting class, spend time with a person you admire as a parent, get a parenting mentor or coach, or go for counseling if you feel there are deeper issues affecting your parenting.
Decide today that you don’t want your parenting strategy to be a crapshoot. If you are tired of the guessing game of parenting, don’t let another day go by without committing to change. Your child’s future happiness depends on it.