By Mike Edwards
Warning parents — Words of advice to your kids don’t nearly matter as much as your behaviors/actions. It determines if kids want to be like you and even if your kids like you. Good luck if you are the kind of parent that says “do as I say, not what I do.” Parenting is thousands of actions to do and avoid. It can help though to have a general plan to guide you. I will list several actions at the end to think about, but mainly I am going to suggest firm but gentle parenting is the key. I parented three kids who are now in their thirties. Looking back, I didn’t always succeed but I tried. Perfect parenting doesn’t even guarantee perfect kids, but I got lucky. You would be proud to call my kids your own.
What is firm parenting?
Firm parenting basically is not constantly moving the bar regarding expectations. Your “no” must mean “no.” Don’t make the kids guess how to please or respect you. Good parenting looks for ways to say yes rather than no all the time, just because you are tired of the challenges of parenting. My biggest “no” was you will treat your sibling the same way I am expected to treat your Mom. That means no yelling at or putting your hands on each other when upset. If you are a parent with more than one child, you know this is an almost daily challenge when they are young. If you are saying no all the time, consider what actions you want to major on and go from there.
What is gentle parenting?
One can be firm but gentle. If a kid is running out in the street without looking, all rules off. Yell at the top of your lungs and take action. But most misbehaviors don’t require such a reaction. Have you noticed kids are exhausting and exasperating! For some reason they don’t come into the world wanting to behave most of the time. Use a firm but not loud voice to state the expectation. If they don’t listen remove them from the scene of the crime. Spanking was not an option for me as a parent. It stifled creative discipline that is more effective. No, my kids didn’t end up in prison.
Lots of other actions
The challenges of parenting is unbelievable. You have to monitor screen time, you have to monitor that snacks aren’t the main meal, you have to be concerned how kids these days are treating one another when no one is looking, etc. Here are a few personal parenting actions I think can help:
- Put the marriage first over the kids. Do stuff with your partner alone and communicate in words your partner is your first commitment. Kids will benefit in the long-run. I sucked at this!
- Be present in the moment and not distracted. Kids are boring when younger. Quite thinking what you aren’t getting done and be with them.
- False praise isn’t good but unexpressed gratitude toward the kids is the same as ingratitude
- Spanking is not necessary as stifles creative discipline that is more effective
- Pick your battles when appropriate to say “no” and mean it. Now that you are an adult, “what do you wish your parents had said ‘no’ to and minor on the rest? Stop changing the goalposts
- Discipline doesn’t always have to be immediate. You might come up with a better idea later. Let the kid wonder
- Knows the stages of parenting. See here.
- Insist the siblings treat one another like they want to be treated. NO bullying in this house either between mom and dad or siblings
- Controlling love is an oxymoron. As they get older (age debatable), kids need to be allowed to make their own decisions and suffer the consequences if necessary. Give choices and let them follow their own dreams not the parent’s dreams
- One last personal thing men — when we dated we tended to hold doors including the car, and other actions that conveyed love. I wish I had never stop holding the car door despite children. I am back in the habit for years unless hot as hell in the car and the wife wish I get the AC going first before they get in. The wife doesn’t always love this new habit, but I ain’t changing
- Want more suggestions? See here.
Oh yea, this is a spiritual blog!
One can be a great parent despite not believing in God or have a relationship with God. No excuses! I am bias. God’s influence in my life has made me a better husband, parent, and friend. I am convinced God loves me the same way I desire deep down to be known for loving others and my children. I have written before how and what a relationship with God is like — What Is The Greatest Advantage Believing In God If So Inclined? Consider all the human and spiritual help you need to be the very best parent you can be.
Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org