Parenting is hard, but so is being a kid!
Parenting is a lot like trying to hit a moving target…blindfolded! Our kids are constantly changing, and we don’t always know what they’re changing into. Still, there are some principles that can guide our parenting.
When we forget our role as the parent, we drive our children crazy and, subsequently, go crazy ourselves!
Sometimes We Forget…
#1 | …to have Fun
It’s easy to have fun with your kids when they’re young.
With my 1 year old and 3 year old, having fun is easy. My kids love to play with Daddy. They’re constantly begging me to play in the backyard, take them to the train sets at church, or play Mario Kart on the Wii. It’s a very easy situation.
Eventually, life gets a lot more complicated, and dad isn’t nearly as cool. Finding time to have fun with your kids is a lot more difficult when they have homework, clubs, sports, church, and their own social life. Family fun time can easily seem like a side issue.
However, it’s vitally important that you continue to build your personal relationship with your kids. As they get older, they need more freedom, and this inevitably will lead to tension between you. In order to properly love and discipline your child, you need the relational credibility to speak hard truth to them.
Your child needs to know you love them and enjoy them unconditionally! Wanting to spend time with them communicates that you value them.
When you attempt to discipline your child without having a relationship, they simply see a dictator!
Some parents have the reverse problem; They’re all fun with no discipline.
#2 | …to be their Parent
Proverbs 22 (ESV)
6 Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.“
As culture has moved away from traditional views of the family and generally become more wary of authority, there seems to have been a push towards parents being their child’s friend.
During the early 00’s there was a show called Gilmore Girls. The show followed the lives of three generations of girls in the Gilmore family. The grandmother in the family was an authoritarian mother who never had a relationship with her daughter, Lorelai. In high school, Lorelai became pregnant, and left her family to raise her daughter, Rory. The series begins when Rory is the same age that Lorelia was when she became pregnant. Lorelai, not wanting to be like her mother, tries to be her daughter’s best friend. The show deals extensively with their family dynamics, and portrays Lorelai as the better parent. …of course, she just happened to have a highly motivated and highly intelligent daughter who only acts out when it fits the plot.
While the parent/friend makes for a fun TV show, during the formative years, teenagers need a parent! Children need to be raised to be great adults not just good kids. This requires guidance, direction, and discipline.
- Out of control
- Living in rebellion
- Trying too hard to be cool
- Trying too hard to just be their friend
You’re not providing what they need the most, A PARENT!
Children who don’t feel like they have a parent feel like they’re missing something!
It’s become a far too familiar story: I meet with a teenager who describes their family situation, and it becomes immediately clear that the child is the most emotionally and spiritually mature person in the home. Whether the parent is in sin, irresponsible, lonely, looking for a friend, or wounded themselves, the damage to the student is very similar.
SIDENOTE: Yes, I did just give an extended Gilmore Girls example. I might own all 7 seasons on DVD, and I might be the one who turned my wife on to the show.
#3 | …They’re Getting Older
Your kids will never be as young as they are now!
That’s hardly a difficult concept to grasp. Unfortunately, it’s far more difficult to accept emotionally (which my wife expresses frequently). When you remember the moment someone is born and you changed their diapers, you have a bias to think of them as younger than they are.
Parenting is a series of moments of freeing your child.
When your child is one day old, the closest thing to freedom they have is when you place them in their crib. Six months later, they have the freedom to crawl around in the room that you’re in. My 3 year old has mostly free reign when he’s in our house.
Sometimes it’s terrifying to give your child more freedom; I can only imagine how terrifying it will be the first time I watch my son drive off by himself.
Still, as a parent, you have to let go!
As a child demonstrates they are responsible enough to have freedom, they need to be given more freedom. When they’re only 3 years old, it’s pretty obvious when they need more freedom. The older they get, the harder it is to remember they’re going to keep getting older..
Of course, sometimes they’re given more freedom than they were responsible enough to handle…
#4 | …They’re Still Growing Up
Ephesians 6 (NIV)
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Part of growing up is making mistakes. Some mistakes are because of immaturity, and others are due to active rebellion. Part of parenting is learning to discern which is which and, either way, lead your child to know how to not repeat mistakes.
- Sometimes parenting means we must retract freedom as they demonstrate they can’t handle the freedom they have been given.
- Other times, parenting means showing incredible amounts of grace.
As a parent, you must recognize that they’re a work in progress, and you’re there to guide them to adulthood. When they believe you expect perfection, they feel extreme stress.
#5 | …They’re an Individual
Parenting is an interesting thing. We have aspirations and dreams for our children before they’re born. We want them to like the same things we like. We want to share things with them. We want them to exceed us.
…but, they are their own individual…and you can’t control who your child becomes, or what they will like.
Loving your child means helping them discover who they are and how to use their talents.
When we fail to treat our children like individuals, we choke the life out of them. When they don’t feel accepted for who they are, they don’t feel loved.
Your child is uniquely themselves. Treat them that way!