When your child gets married and begins to raise their own family, it’s too late for parenting 101. How many times have we heard or seen that bossy, nosy mother or father-in-law cause problems in a marriage because they attempt to do the parenting — that their children lack. As mentioned earlier, parenting is not a skill learned in the classroom, it is life experience, in a way it is the mimicking of parental skills learned as a youngster. Some of it gotten through observation and maturity and some of it through education and repetition. But make no mistake, it doesn’t come with the passing of birthdays.
Raising kids with gratitude is extremely important; it may be the most important. The first step to creating gratitude in children is making sure they only receive about 25% of what they desire in the way of material possessions — any more gift giving than this is spoiling the child — literally suffocating the gratitude in the child. Give children everything they need, but little of what they want. Gratitude is one of the foremost secrets to a happy healthy life. The road to gratitude is through — of all things — frustration. Frustration disciplined by patience and the joys of anticipation. Necessary frustration builds character and self esteem and teaches children about the gratitude they should have for what they did received. Making the kids sacrifice and work for what they get — even if it is as simple as having to wait — is necessary frustration. Giving in to whining produces spoiled, dependent kids. We want kids that naturally mature and gently move into independence. The child that needs to be thrown from the nest kicking and screaming is very likely a product of the parenting they received. A Frankenstein monster and you are the doctor who brought it to life.
Toys, television and video games should encourage creativity, fantasy and day dreaming. There’s no positive development in just watching television to pass the time or playing mindless games, so make sure what is being watched and played is making the most of creative skills and mind expanding themes. Television and video games should never be used as a tool to keep a kid quiet or “occupied.” Worthwhile television and games can always be viewed by the whole family. If you find that you are dividing your families television and gaming time into segments by age range, you are doing your child and your home a disservice. Watch together. Dad can watch Hallmark or Disney rather than Sports Center once in a while.
Having a full time homemaker is vitally important to the raising of happy healthy children. In today’s world that isn’t always possible, but there is no way to make up for mom at home with her children — not daycare, not grandma, not nanny, nothing takes the place of mom. The day long interactions with an adult speeds the process of language and social skills. Children learn as much by watching their parents completing daily tasks, than by actually be told how to do something or learning in a hands on fashion. By being around a parent, the child picks up the intellectual traits and good habits that the parents possess. Spoiler Alert: The opposite is also true — hence, the apple never falls very far from the tree. 1 Cor 15:33 tells us “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Kids don’t start off as giants of virtue, the start off pretty selfish, so yes, it is required of parents who wish to instill good values in their children, to be virtuous themselves. Do good kids come from bad homes? Of course, but why would any loving parent put their flesh and blood at such a huge disadvantage at the starting line of their life.
Good parenting is also non-verbal communication. Many parents only show love when there is a conflict, a hurt, a wound. Communicating love and affection through touching, holding, hugging are invaluable supports to a healthy child. Human touch is vital. When a child is held and told they are loved only after they’ve been hurt by a scolding parent, or a fall from a bike, the child learns that the love is transparent and conditional. Kids know the difference between a parent who deeply loves them and cares for them and one who only comforts them when they are hurting.
The western world and specifically America has been on the cutting edge of technology and the perfecting of all that came before, making our lives so very comfortable and blessed but also taken for granted. Whether it is building a space station or satellite technology, lasers, microchips, artificial limbs, we have been able to do more, faster and more efficiently than ever before. With material items this can be accomplished and will continue at record pace. We all see the wonderful results around us. When it comes to raising children, on the other hand, we have seen the absolute opposite come true. The results of parental tinkering with what has worked for hundreds — no — thousands of years, can also be seen all around us.