Most of what Tracy and I have learned about parenting has come from listening to and being around other great parents! While we don’t always practice what we have learned, it has been encouraging and helpful to be around many men and women who are wise when it comes to the joys and challenges of parenting.
Here is a list with some of our favorite habits, practices, and bits of wisdom from parents we respect.
10. Check their children’s cell phones periodically.
This is not an invasion of privacy. Kids know that’s part of the deal. I know a lot of parents who do this including myself.
9. Make their kids eat what is prepared for dinner.
Tracy is very good at doing this. Please eat what is in front of you. Her kids are adventurous eaters. Mature your child’s palate. Require them to try new foods. They don’t have to like it now, but they may grow to enjoy it. This can be a battleground for some. Encourage them with patience.
8. Encourage relationships with other trusted adults
I heard Joe White, the CEO of Kanakuk Kamps and ministries for youth, talk about this subject. He encouraged parents to seek out an older, Christian mentor to go out for a Coke once in awhile with their kids. A college or older high school-er who loves Jesus and is “cool” who can come alongside your child and encourage him or her. Pray for someone. You will be surprised how God provides. He certainly did for my daughter and son.
7. Set aside time to talk one on one
Tracy’s husband started Monday Night Talks when their boys were almost 10. Every Monday night one on one talks in their rooms. No question is off limits. He talks to them about sex early and keeps an open dialogue.
6. Teach their kids about managing money
The 10-10-80 Rule. Give an allowance at an early age in amounts that are easily split into Give 10%, Save 10% and Spend or Live 80%. $2.50 is an easy allowance amount to teach this principle: 25¢ in Give; 25¢ in Save; $2.00 in Live or Spend.
5. Are interested in having good relationships with their kids’ friends
My mom was a great example for me in this area. She would sit at the kitchen table and chat with my friends and me. After I was off to college my high school friends would still stop by my parents’ house to say hi. This meant a lot to me. I enjoyed bringing my friends around.
Invite kids to stay for dinner, be intentional about talking to kids when they’re over and be Facebook friends. This means a lot to your kids and their friends. Good relationships are NOT defined by trying to be the “cool mom” who buys beer for a party! Be an example. Your kids will appreciate your effort!
4. Know that Rules without Relationship equals Rebellion
We’re not exactly sure who originally coined this phrase but I remember hearing this a lot from a friend and our youth pastor, Dave Schirmer. Dave and his wife, Amy lived out this principle with their own kids.
Dave and Amy had a rule about their boys not using a particular common teenage expletive. Mind you, it was a relatively tame one, but one they did not want to hear from their kids’ mouths. One of their teens came home lamenting about how he was the ONLY one who didn’t use this term among his friends at school. Amy gave him unrestricted permission to use the word for one evening at home. It was funny and it got it out of his system.
Amy showed her son some empathy without completely giving up on her standards. Sometimes it’s the little things that show you still care about how your kids feel even when you’re enforcing rules that aren’t popular.
3. Make it clear to kids that their marriage relationship is a priority
I have had several examples over the years of couples who put time and effort into building into their marriages. One couple I know personally is Bill and Binny Pearce. They are the parents of a good friend of mine. Tracy and I interviewed them. Hear how they have managed to make their marriage a priority for more than 50 years in radio show #142 Love Your Spouse which was part of our LOVE month last February.
I have also seen a lot of women in particular who are so enmeshed in their kids they leave no room for a healthy relationship with their spouses. The Boundaries Series is a good resource for this topic.
It can be as simple as holding hands on the couch, cooking dinner together without the kids but while they are around to see, pretending like you’re making out in the backseat…(my husband and I like to torture our older kids now that they sometimes do the driving). The point being, you enjoy each other and you make each other a priority. Kids see that mom and dad love each other. This can provide a lot of security to children at any age.
2. Know what makes each child feel loved
If you’re a parent and haven’t read The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, head to the library now.
Great parents know that their children are wired differently. All of us feel accepted and loved in different ways. Some kids need more words of affirmation, some feel loved by quality time, etc. This book has taught me a lot about that. There are other books in this series for marriage and other relationships. I highly recommend this. There is a book for teens too as your kids get older.
Lisa Jacobson is an exceptionally intentional and effective parent. She is the author of a very popular blog called, Club 31 Women – A passion for husband, home and family. Tracy and I interviewed her on the subject of loving your kids. Click on the picture below to listen to the interview.
Lisa shared how she connected with her teenage son by taking him out to his favorite barbecue joint for lunch and conversation. Simple. Lots of love communicated over a plate of ribs!
1. Are the spiritual leaders of the house. Pray often. Pray their kids “get caught.”
These parents don’t just take their kids to church on Sunday. They live out their faith with love and grace. They don’t just schedule family Bible studies, they talk about the Lord in everyday conversations. They pray for their kids OFTEN. They pray, not just for protection from pain, but that every experience (good or bad) brings their children closer to their own relationship with the Lord. I have been completely blessed to know parents who practice this on a regular basis.
I can’t remember from whom I first heard about praying for kids to “get caught” when they are involved in something destructive. This can include everything from lies to poor choices with friends or substance abuse.
Be prepared. If you pray this for a child, you will probably catch him or her. This is not meant to be controlling or threatening. It is meant to let the hidden or secret be out in the open in order to protect the child from more harm or address issues they may be reluctant to share openly.
My husband and I have experienced this with our own kids. A casual conversation with a friend leads to information that is important to know. Other times it has been a gut feeling that turned out to be right. Again, it’s not meant to hold over kids. It’s a way to show grace and love and to teach how choices have consequences.
This list could go on with more examples of parenting wisdom. I am so glad I have learned and continue to learn from others who have been there done that in a way that I want to emulate. I think the key to a lot this parenting stuff is balance in implementing any parenting practice above. Isn’t that with so many areas of our lives?
What are some habits, practices or nuggets of wisdom you have learned from experience or from other parents you admire? We would love for you to share in the comments below.
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