If you are a parent, at some point you will connect with the opening words of Charles Dickens’s novel, A Tale of Two Cities.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
Which parent hasn’t wanted to pull their hair out at times? Let’s face it, kids aren’t born with a manual attached.
However, after working with kids and families for almost 20 years and being a parent of two teenagers myself, I have found there are several timeless principles that bring greater success in parenting.
Here are 5 Things All Kids Need From Their Parents:
1) Unconditional love. Our kids are growing up in a tough world. I can’t imagine the pressure they must feel from things like media and other peers. Our kids need to know that no matter what they do (and they will do some things), we will love them. No strings attached.
One of the greatest stories ever told is the Biblical parable of the prodigal son. A certain man had a son who decided to basically disown his family, take his inheritance and sow his wild oats.
After his wild living landed him a job feeding and eating with the pigs, he decided to return home and beg his father to be a hired hand. His father, upon seeing his son, ran to meet him. He had a robe and a ring put on him and ordered the finest feast be thrown in his prodigal son’s honor. Unconditional love doesn’t get any better than that.
2) Structure. Parenting can be exhausting. It is so much easier to let kids do whatever they want, when they want. However, kids need structure. Bedtimes, curfews, homework schedules and chores can seem restrictive. In the long run though, structure within reason teaches our kids how to be successful adults.
3) Time. How do kids spell love? T.I.M.E. No amount of gifts or freedom can trump time with our kids. Kids crave it. Even when they act like they don’t.
One thing that has been effective for me in the past is to pick a day for each child and take them out to breakfast before school. We would talk about whatever was going on in their life, and I would always reserve about 5 minutes or so to teach a life lesson or leadership principle.
Lastly, don’t forget to make it fun. One of the best things Jacque and I have ever done with our kids is family competition nights. The kids absolutely love it.
4) A good example. No amount of teaching can replace living out a good example. Kids won’t remember most of what we say, but they will remember what we do. Do we want them to manage their money and time well? Have great relationships? How we model those things in front of them will have a huge impact on our children’s future.
5) Grace. Our kids need to see grace in action. Recently, one of our children was grounded for incurring charges just over $1000 that were connected to our iTunes account.
He was playing a certain video game on his phone and was buying extra add-ons that went along with the video game. To his benefit, he did not realize how much he had actually charged over a period of weeks. He just thought he had the money to pay us back.
Regardless, he was supposed to always check with us before he purchased anything through his phone. (thus, the grounding.)
We told him, not only was he grounded, but that he would also have to pay back every last penny. This would mean that it would take him over two years to pay it back.
Pretty much an eternity for a 13-year-old.
We really thought there was nothing we could do about the charge, and we were going to have to cover it in the meantime.
My wife, Jacque decided that she would try to call iTunes and see if there was anything they could do. To our surprise, they said they do not normally do this, but they canceled the debt.
Ryan thought that this was not going to be a good Christmas because of his poor decision. So we decided we would wait until Christmas morning to tell him.
As he was ready to open his gifts, we handed him an envelope with his name on it. The letter inside said this:
With tears in his eyes, he read the letter. Actually, we all had tears in our eyes.
We explained how this was the true story of Christmas. God sending his Son to the earth as a baby, who grew up to be a man and paid the debt for our sin on a cross.
It was a priceless memory and by far, was the best Christmas gift we have ever been a part of. It showed grace in action.
These are not the only 5 things our kids need from us, but they are definitely principles that contribute to parenting success.
If you are a parent, take heart. You will make it to the other side.
And with the right strategies you can even enjoy the journey.
What is your biggest challenge as a parent? Leave a comment below.
This is the third of three posts about relationships. In the first post, we discussed “4 Things Every Woman Needs To Hear From Her Husband,” and the second post covered “3 Things Every Man Desires From His Wife.” Be sure to read all three and get a well rounded perspective about improving your family relationships.
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