We love our kids very much, and we are involved in many aspects of their life. We spend time together, have fun together, laugh together, cry together, and enjoy being together. We are not a perfect family, and we have made plenty of mistakes as parents. There are days where things are going really great, and days that we feel like we have no idea what we are doing. Lately I have noticed a change: parenting is becoming more difficult.
There are several factors for this change of course, such as very busy schedules, our kids entering into new stages of development, and cultural influences. The biggest factor, however I feel is due to our performance-driven society. I’m all for growth and progressive development, but I’ve noticed more than ever our kids are constantly in a pressure-cooker environment where they constantly feel they need to perform in school, with friends, in sports, in church, extracurricular activities, and even at home. Challenge and performance is not bad, but I have noticed a significant impact it has on their self-confidence as well as how they act (or react) in busy and stressful environments. We are the only people who can parent our kids, and more than ever we need to persevere in the art of parenting in order to help kids have a healthy perspective on the high expectations of a performance-driven society.
Here are seven things we strive to build into our parenting style:
Encourage Them: While we don’t want to fix all of their problems, we want to inspire courage and determination in order for them to work through and grow through the difficult challenges they face. We intentionally look for opportunities to say, “You can do this,” or “I believe in you” in order to build in them the confidence they need to persevere.
Affirm Them: Once I was on the sideline of a soccer field and heard a coach yell (among other things); “If you don’t listen to what I tell you to do, you will never learn!” Often kids perceive what they hear from adults is what they are doing wrong. What they interpret is what they haven’t done to the level an adult expects of them. As parents, we must stop and affirm the things that we see in our kids at the time we see it happening. Even if they have a growing-edge they need to work on (such as a behavioral issue), affirming them when you see them behave well will have a more positive impact.
Touch Them: More than ever kids need healthy touch: hugs, kisses, arms around their shoulder, tousling their hair, high fives, etc. Healthy touch helps kids feel emotionally safe and secure. It diffuses tension, and let’s kids know they are loved unconditionally. Every day begins and ends with a hug and kiss in our house. Whenever we discipline, it always ends with a hug. Kids need appropriate touch to know that they have a place that is nurturing and filled with grace.
Coach Them: Parenting requires instruction of disciplines, fundamentals and techniques for life. I coach soccer, and the most effective coaching method we do is when we have scrimmages with coaches on the field. We can stop play in order to point out an area that needs work and development (or, affirm a great play!). As parents, we have to be on the field of life with our kids, in order to point things out. We can’t just yell, scream and punish our kids, we need to coach them to help them improve. In our house we often call “time-outs,” “do-overs” and “resets” in order to help them improve in life.
Love Them: We continually say to our kids; “I don’t love you for what you do, I love you for who you are!” I don’t want love to be reward for good performance and success, I want love to be what keeps them grounded so they don’t have to go seeking love and approval from other places. We love our kids with our words, our time, and our presence.
Shepherd Them: The hardest part about parenting is watching our kids fail. Part of our role as parents is to help them avoid major failures, but when they do fail, it’s critical that we are there for them, walking alongside them to lead them in the right steps. It’s messy, time-consuming, heart-wrenching and challenging. But it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of parenting when our kids learn and grow through their failures, and they attribute us to their success.
We don’t have to cower away from a performance-driven society, but we can’t forgo the values kids need in order for them to become confident, secure, and godly.
“We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you…”2 Corinthians 1:12
Question: What tips can you share that have been effective in your experience as a parent? Please share below.