Raising children in today’s world is quite a daunting task. At times their friends, society and even their schools seem to offer nothing but pitfalls and negative influences.
We want to raise our children to be a certain way and to have certain values, while the world around them applies constant pressure in the opposite direction. Don’t let this discourage you though. There are ways to successfully raise children of integrity in this pressure cooker of a world. You’re not alone, and you can do it!
Why should you listen to my advice? What makes me so “wise”? Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers. There is no instruction booklet to follow. Furthermore, I realise that what works for one child doesn’t always work with other children. However, I do have quite a bit of experience in raising the next generation. Yes, I am a mother of two.
I had to raise my children in A LOT of different environments – everywhere from homeschooling to public city schools, suburbs to military bases, Midwest farming country to the heart of Washington, D.C.
I was also military leader, responsible for as many as 300 young people at any one time. I have also been a teacher and mentor for numerous children ranging in age from 8 to 19. So, I’ve seen the spectrum. I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.
There is one piece of advice that is more important than anything else I can say. If you read nothing else, read this. Your children learn most about who they are and what they should be by watching you. You have to set the example. It sounds simple enough and is pure common sense. However, this can often be the hardest thing to do, and it is where many parents fail their children.
It’s easy to tell someone else how they should live, but actually doing the right things ourselves day in and day out in this world is hard. Remember, your children are watching your every move. For a child to believe it’s possible to live right in today’s environment, they have to see that the adults can do it.
Spiritual and Social Training
The next piece of advice is to give your children a foundation and support system as early as possible. We all know that children develop both mentally and physically, so we use school and physical activity to train their minds and body starting at a very early age. We train and train until things become rote.
What many forget is that children also develop socially and spiritually. Spiritual and social faculties require training just like any other area. Values, morals, and faith have to be taught and discussed over and over again. It has to be part of their daily routine and expectations.
Studying the Bible needs to be just as high on the priority list as studying math. You also have to be there every time for when they have questions or when they fail. They need to know that they have a loving support system that can help put them back on the correct path.
The only downside to you being a support system is that you won’t always be there. One day they will have to make it in the world on their own. That is why values, morals, and faith have to become so ingrained.
Through faith, your children will learn that God is part of that support system. God will always be there to help answer questions or “right the ship” when needed. With God, they are never alone. With God, they can tackle anything this world can throw at them while staying true to who they are.
We all know that life isn’t easy. It’s not always sunshine and roses. You can’t shelter your child from all the challenges and difficulties they will face. That’s why it’s imperative that your child’s support system and foundation include faith and reliance on God.
No Can Be a Powerful Word
The last piece of advice I can give you is to be a parent first, and a friend last. Too many parents nowadays are so afraid of losing their children to the world that they back off when it comes to discipline. They tiptoe around their youngster to avoid confrontation. This will almost guarantee failure.
I’ve seen it time and time again where I would get an unruly child as a military leader or as a teacher. Many times it was simply a matter of not enough rules and discipline imposed on that child by their parents.
Children thrive on discipline, structure, and borders. If you grow up in a wishy-washy household, you learn to be wishy-washy in your own values and faith. Self-control is a learned behavior. If you don’t provide structured boundaries when they are children, how can you expect them to act within the proper boundaries as an adult?
It’s hard to be a parent. It’s even harder if you’re a single parent. Sometimes you want to be the “cool” one who listens and doesn’t judge – the one with whom your kids want to confide their gossip and hang out.
As they get older, you feel them start to pull away. I hate to tell you this, but it’s inevitable. It’s part of the process of transitioning to an independent adult. However, you shouldn’t mistake wanting to be close to your child for giving into your child.
You have to be the bad guy sometimes and say no. In fact, there will be times when it seems like all you say is no. Your child may even tell you you’re the worst parent ever and that they hate you. Don’t worry. It will pass. The lesson they learned, thankfully, will not. And that is the very essence of parenting. Your job is not to coddle and play with your children. The Bible says very clearly that your job is to teach and discipline.
Your children may not appreciate it now, but believe me they will appreciate your rules and discipline later. When I got those unruly children, I had to be the bad guy for quite a while in order to change those kids around.
It was not easy, and many times they hated the sight of me. But there were wonderful, rewarding moments, as well. After all was said and done, they always came back afterwards to thank me. They knew I must have cared greatly for them or I wouldn’t have gone through all the trouble.
They thanked me for showing them that they can be great and successful on their own. Just think how much better and easier their lives would have been if their parents had given them boundaries and the skills of self-discipline in the first place.
One last thing about being a parent first and a friend last. The earlier you start, the easier it is on you and your children. You should establish very early on what you will and will not tolerate in your household. That way, your children always know what is expected of them.
If you say “no” in the beginning, your children will learn what is right and wrong. It’ll keep you from having to say it constantly when they get older – or at least not so much. They’ll know when they broke the rules, and when they deserved to be punished – even though, of course, they’ll never admit that to you.
So, will this advice make parenting a breeze? No. It’s the toughest job out there for a reason. However, this advice will help make you successful in raising children God’s way. From my experience with my own children, as well as shaping and leading hundreds of other peoples’ children, every successful parent – and I mean every one that I encountered – had implemented these three pieces of advice.
~ Guest post by Aundrea Richardson