(These are my top ten for being a good parent. These simply reflect what I am thinking about today. These are in no particular order. I will no doubt leave something out that you believe to be important.)
1. A good parent is humble. Some parents don’t seem to learn from others. In fact, they seem to be bent on reinventing the wheel. Ask someone in whom you have confidence how you are doing. Ask if they have any concerns about your children in particular. Read something that will help you grow as a parent. Talk with older people who have done a particularly good job of rearing their children. I once spent a couple of hours with an older couple to get their input on how I was handling a situation with my teenage daughter. That was helpful. Beware of being over-confident in your own wisdom.
2. A good parent is more concerned about doing the right thing than being liked by the children. Children are dependent on mom and dad to be just that–Mom and Dad. I want to really love my children. That means focusing on what my children need instead of focusing on my own emptiness and using them to fill it. Some parents allow their own insecurity to impact the way they treat their children. Consequently they are afraid to discipline their children for fear their children will not like them or will be angry with them.
Some parents give in to their children’s every whim. Children need a mom and dad who are mature enough to look ahead and who will be focused on doing what is right by their children.
3. A good parent understands that you either pay now or pay later. (Thanks to Charlie Coil, Jr. for the above line). Remember the Scripture that says that Eli did not restrain his sons? (I Sam. 3:14). I seriously doubt such negligence began when these guys became adults. When children are young, you must pay now or you will pay later. Your children will test you. She or he wants the security of knowing that there are limits and boundaries. Maybe she willfully disobeys. Maybe he talks back to you. Maybe you see in him or her, at times, rebellion toward you. I know it is exhausting to deal with this.
It is far easier to yell, threaten, or just ignore it. (I’ve done all three). Remember, it you don’t deal with this at an early age, it only gets worse. Deal with it now and future years may be a real joy.
4. A good parent understands the importance of following through. Following through is important in a golf swing. It is even more important for a parent. When children disobey or rebel in some way, too many parents resort to endless talking, yelling, threatening, explaining, etc. (I’ve certainly done all of these). The focus should be on consequences. As a result of this unexceptable behavior, what is the consequence? All too often, there is no consequence. Everyone gets upset. The parent threatens but there is no follow through. Nothing happens.
Perhaps a child throws a tantrum in the mall. His dad/mom warns him. He keeps screaming. The parent threatens. "Do you want to go home now? Do you want a spanking?" But–nothing happens. Twenty minutes later, the parent buys the kid ice cream. Uhhh. A mixed message.
I know this is difficult. I know it takes energy. But–following through is critical.
5. A good parent raises these children as if they weren’t hers. After all, they aren’t. They are on loan from God. As a parent, I am responsible for rearing them in a way that is pleasing to him. I am accountable to him for what I do with his children. My goal is to produce children who love God and ultimately desire to live in joyful obedience to him.
The other five to be posted later…