Part One – Building Blocks of Parenting
When it comes to discipline or teaching children responsibility, one of the hardest things for a parent is to be consistently consistent. Equally difficult to remember is that being a parent does not require that we are always our child’s friend.
Easier said than done, I know. How well I know! While experience is a great teacher, we can also learn from others who’ve already experienced what we have yet to learn. Sometimes we don’t even know what we don’t know. That’s when getting advice from others who’ve been there can be helpful as well as encouraging.
If you were to ask me what I’ve learned in parenting six kids for the last thirty years, these building blocks of parenting are the first blocks I’d pull out of the bag. It’s not that I did it so well. It’s just that I learned along the way what I could have done better or could have done differently from the very start.
Even though I’ve been there and done that, believe me when I tell you that I still struggle with some of these when I am parenting foster kids in our home.
The struggle is real.
Yet winning each battle is worth every tear and every prayer along the way.
Be a parent first. Every parent wants to be liked by his/her child, but being popular is not the goal. You are the parent, not the popular teammate. Start with being the parent.
Choose discipline, consequences, and rewards because you’re the parent, not the friend. Be a parent first.
No matter what, you will always be the parent. Your “discipline” needs to reflect that. Don’t let your kids make you feel guilty for being the parent and not the friend when it is time to deal out consequences. Be a parent first.
I can be my child’s friend – sometimes. Sometimes I’m their friend, and sometimes I’m not. Remember: always a parent, sometimes a friend.
Being a friend should not detract from my parenting even though it connects me with my child. Making memories is fun and important, and we did that a lot. Friends make good memories. Good parents are also disciplinarians.
Make decisions based on principle and not popularity. Whether it’s deciding on a gift, a visit to a friend’s house, cell phone usage or an activity, we need to base our decisions on what is right and best for our child and not because we want to be popular. Ask yourself: why am I saying (yes, no) to this request? Is this what is best for my child?
Defeat the 3 Ds. These are Dishonesty, Disobedience, and Disrespect.
If the infraction is not one of the 3 Ds, then it’s not a hill to die on. I wish I had sorted through this principle earlier. Some skirmishes can be left untouched. Remember that if we win the battles on the 3 Ds, we will win the war.
Start sooner rather than later. Waiting only makes it harder on yourself and your kid. If your child is old enough to be dishonest, be disobedient or show disrespect, then he is old enough to experience consequences. Period. Plus, your kids will be prepared for life – whether it’s regarding relationships or responsibilities.
Success does not come without a price.
Good parenting involves time, teamwork, and tenacity. Hang in there. Stay the course. It really will be worth it someday.