Parenting is awfully hard isn't it?
On Sunday our pastor made a comment highlighting one of the difficulties of parenting. He talked about how quickly kids move through different life stages, and how just when we as their parents think we've got things about figured out, they move on to a whole new territory.
In college some friends and I made up a game called Crazyball. We had rules, a scoring system and even a traveling trophy. It was a great game! One of the things that made Crazyball so fun was how the rules evolved over time. We found that some rules worked well, while others were unnecessary, or even detrimental to the flow and feel of the game. Through trial and error, over time, we discovered how to make Crazyball a fantastic dorm room game.
I think successful parenting is a lot like playing Crazyball. You do your best to set up a system that you think will be best for you and your kids. Then you work your system and make adjustments as you go. You adapt and change based on all kinds of factors: number of kids, personalities of kids, careers changes, school, sports, health, etc. Great parenting means making the necessary adjustments to meet the needs of your family.
Here are a few tips for making the kind of adjustments that will improve the flow and feel of your parenting.
1. Pray Daily - In prayer we are able to connect with the ultimate Parent. Prayer helps center us, and reminds us that we are not in the parenting business alone. In prayer we find peace, wisdom, encouragement, and grace to keep pushing our parenting forward.
2. Read Scripture - The Bible is a story of God the Father rescuing his children; there is a lot for us to learn in that story. The Bible contains all kinds of wisdom for parenting. When we read it our heart and mind is transformed. By knowing God through his Word we can begin to parent our kids like he does.
3. Read Great Parenting Books - All truth is God's truth, and there are some great books available to guide us in our parenting. Shepherding a Child's Heart and Bringing Up Boys are two examples of books that have helped me change the rules of my parenting.
4. Ask Successful Parents Around You - If you were traveling to a completely unfamiliar place wouldn't you like to speak with someone whose been there before? Last spring when my wife and I went to Guatemala our trip was enriched by the experience of my sister who lived in the city we were visiting. Your parenting will be enriched if you spend time with people who have been to the parenting place you want to go.
5. Communicate With Your Kids - Crazyball wouldn't have been fun for the players if the rules changed without anyone being told what was happening. Your kids don't like it either. Talk with them, explain the why's (a kid's #1 question right?), get their buy-in, and even incorporate them into the decision making process when possible.
6. Ask Your Kids for Forgiveness - This is so important. You're going to mess up. Some parenting strategies won't work. You'll make mistakes along the way. When you do, apologize to your kids. Tell them you made a mistake and you're working to correct it. Model for them way it looks like to deal with failure positively and to move forward towards a new solution.
My kids are all in school now and I absolutely can't believe how fast the time has gone by. I've made a bunch of mistakes along the way, but I'm learning how to be comfortable adjusting my parenting, so that through trial and error, over time, I can be the best father possible for my kids.
So, what about you? What things have helped you successfully navigate the journey that is parenting?