Disclaimer: Everything I said was ‘borrowed knowledge’, and was not everything you need to know, nor the only way, to parent.
Their Story, Our Goals: It can be helpful to step back and think about how our kids will tell their childhood story. What Words, Traditions, Memories and People will they remember? Parents get to shape much of this story, but we only get to do that once. Parenting does not just turn out OK, it needs focused attention over years & decades and having an overarching goal can help.
Rejection & Acceptance: This begins at home and shapes our children. The Words We Use And the Schedules We Choose communicate acceptance or rejection. Our words may be true but do they reject our children? It is helpful to figure out what each child needs to hear to feel accepted and then say it 10x more than we think we need to! The schedules we choose also communicate acceptance or rejection. Kids can’t always see our hearts but they can clearly see our schedules.
Discipline: This needs to be based on the premise they WILL like you later, and later is way longer! 4 Stages of Parenting:
- Discipline 1-5: Establish boundaries & authority figures; often reactive.
- Training 5-11: Giving instruction ahead of time; showing them.
- Coaching 12-18: Encouraging from the sidelines, not charging out into the middle of the field to sort things out. Negotiation.
- Friendship 18+: Later is way longer than the first 18 years.
You can’t suddenly add discipline when they are teenagers. Doing so provokes rebellion and communication breakdown. You cannot “be friends” with your teenager, you are the coach. A Coach is not the same as a friend.
The goal of discipline must be to re-establish broken relationships. It should be related & proportional to the ‘crime’ and they are to be embraced after discipline, the offence no longer mentioned. We are to side with them against their disobedience and with them as they face the consequences of their actions.
Don’t Freak Out: It is probably best not to freak out when our children do or say stuff that shock or surprise. By not freaking out, the lines of communication remain open and you generally find out far more!
Faith & Family: Fostering a Jesus-centred family life requires us to intentionally mesh our faith into family life. It will be messy and constantly changing in its expression.