I recently had a good talk with Andrew, number one son. I asked him if raising kids was easier or harder than he thought it would be. He said he was a better parent before he got married and had kids. Children in the house made parenting more difficult. But he said, “I have mantras that help me manage.”
1 IT’S NOT THAT BIG A DEAL.
Parents need to relax. They are going to get it–hopefully soon than later. Doesn’t happen all at once. If everything is a big deal, prepare to raise anxious children. It is good for parents to remind themselves, “This will probably be a small matter by tomorrow.” That helps Dad and Mom from taking every issue to the Supreme Court. Remember–responding beats reacting.
2 THESE KIDS ARE NOT MY OWN.
They are on loan for a few years before they launch out and attempt to do what we are trying to do–and sometimes failing. They will probably do it better than we did. God gives us children to raise us. They teach us more than we teach them. Should we let them know?
3 DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.
I keep thinking, “I’m a bad parent. I am not getting it.” Hey, I am in process just like my children. I’ve never done this before. Call it on-the-job training–we learn as we go. We didn’t get a trial run before the real deal. We sometimes say really stupid things, like, “If you do that again…” or “One more time and…” Get a grip, Dad. You’ll get it right sooner or later, probably later. And the kids will forgive you if are vulnerable.
4 I NEED TO PICK MY BATTLES.
Everything is not a ten. I don’t want to stay in reaction mode. I create issues by making everything an issue. Kids do not learn primarily from discipline. They grow from loving parents creating an environment in which they can grow and learn and make good decisions. If you make everything a battle, your home will be a war-zone. It needs to be a happy place, light and joyful. How would you describe the environment of your home? Basically positive, happy, peaceful, light, friendly? Some environments are quiet, non-communicative, on your own.
5 THINK LONG-TERM.
They will get this potty-training down easily by the time they are ten. We only have them for about eighteen years. They will be out of the house before long, and then they will be missed. (Really?) So treasure the moment and know it will not last. Knee-jerk reactions are usually wrong. Parents need time-outs more than kids. Too many emotional responses. Relax! Trust God for your kids. He’s a good Father!