Critical parenting traits for an uncertain world
Parenting is a mammoth task. There are so many philosophies around being a mother or father that it’s easy to get confused at every turn. In this article, I will explore 4 critical traits you can develop to enhance your parenting.
The way our parents raised us, our view of God and our own experiences all contribute towards our view of love. Parenting is love, but it is so much more. There are four characteristics of parents who raise children that can thrive in an uncertain world. These kind of parents don’t mind making mistakes, are able to love with empathy, create boundaries and maintain consistency.
4 critical parenting traits
1 . These parents don’t mind making mistakes
I remember speaking about this very point at a few parenting workshops. Parents are merely imperfect people loving the next generation. Parents make mistakes. Kids make mistakes and that’s ok. The real issue is what do we do once we realise we have messed up? Be quick to say you are sorry, make right and extend forgiveness, then teach your children to do the same. At a school recently, I noticed posters declaring: “Go ahead and make mistakes.” “Own your mistakes, own your successes”. I wish my high school encouraged me to mistakes all those years back. If we can release a generation that isn’t afraid of making mistakes, and they learn from then, then I think that they could be fearless.
2 . They are able to love with empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. When we parent our children with love and empathy, we are able to put ourself in their shoes and love them in the way they need to be loved. Sometimes we forget what it was like to be 9 years-old or a pubescent teenager. The high-school years can be rough on a person. Take a moment or two and remember your own struggles as a child or teen. Count to 5, take a breath and then respond to your child. When you love with empathy, you allow room for relationship to grow.
3 . They create healthy and appropriate boundaries
The world functions on healthy boundaries. If it were not so, the tides would flood our coastal towns, or the sun would burn 24/7. Night and day are perfect examples of rhythms and boundaries. So too, should a family live with healthy and appropriate boundaries. These could include regular meal-times together, perhaps online limits or digital sunsets.
John Townsend says that in healthy development, your children, especially your teens, “will develop self-control and responsibility to the extent that their parents have healthy boundaries.” Over time, as your child experiences external structure, you give them something that they cannot provide for themselves. This helps our children transition towards moving from external structures towards internalizing them as they grow older. For example, you feed your toddler healthy, nutritious food so that she can learn what is good for her to eat and grow. As she gets older, she will realise that certain food types are better for her to eat than others.
4 . They know and understand the power of consistency.
Consistency is one of hardest things for parents to maintain. It takes time and energy but it’s definitely worth it. As a family, decide what your values are and how you want to raise your children. Then, take it from there. I’ve experienced the pressure to send our children to a myriad of extra-mural lessons from arts to sport to academics. Granted, we have sent our children to a few of those as they needed them. When we made the decisions to do that, it reinforced their direction and it built our family up instead of taking away from us. We dreamt with our kids. Relationships are the most important currency in your home and it’s important to protect them. You can do this by being consistent in the way you love and raise your kids.
In my book, Parenting with Courage, I explain that consistency brings stability and freedom. In James 1:17 we read about the consistency of God. “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” This gives us hope, that as we follow His example, we can be consistent in our parenting . The rules in our home shouldn’t be more strict or less strict because you’re tired, or frustrated. In our homes the rules shouldn’t be more lenient because you’re having a good day. Being consistent with your rules, values, limits and consequences.
Let love and a long-term view lead you as try these 4 skills out. I’d love to hear from you so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
All photo’s courtesy of Unsplash (Family by Pixpoetry, fruit photo taken by Yakynina Anastasia, chips taken by Pixzolo Photography and Star Wars family by Daniel Cheung)