I don’t believe there’s a parent out there who’s mission it is to become the worst parent in the world. Everyone, in their own way, is striving to be a good parent.
Some succeed quite easily at it, and others, well, they could use some help. Maybe they are getting lost in all the advice you can find out there. But I believe that everyone desires to be a good parent. Every parent that loves their children, wants the best for their children.
Here are 3 simple tips on how to be a better parent. I said they were simple, meaning that it’s easy to understand. Although, you might need to practice a lot and work very hard to tick them off your list every day. Every day is a brand new day. If you missed something yesterday, just give it another try today. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Ask God to give you grace, mercy and a bit of extra patience and then try again. You were chosen by God to be your child’s parent. He doesn’t make mistakes. Trust in that truth.
1. Recognize that you are not perfect.
There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. You WILL make mistakes. It’s inevitable. Be quick to ask your kids (and spouse) for forgiveness when you’ve lost your temper, forgotten a child’s special activity, lost a toy, broken a promise, etc. If you never ask for forgiveness, they will expect perfection from you. When they don’t get this expected perfection, (which is inevitable, right?) they will be upset with you. When you DO ask for forgiveness, you are teaching your children that it’s normal, and quite common, to make mistakes. They will, in turn, be very quick to forgive you and others (siblings maybe?), and will also be less likely to hold a grudge. To key to this tip, is to recognize quickly when we have made a mistake and then immediately ask for forgiveness.
2. Take good care of yourself and your relationship with your spouse.
One big mistake many parents make is to place their children in the very centre of their universe. If it’s all about the kids and your life revolves around your kids, that has to change. When you vowed to spend eternity with your spouse, that meant before, during and after you have kids. You can’t put everything on hold just because your kids showed up. What will you do once they grow up and move away? You need to keep your marriage at the centre of your life (Well, God first, marriage second and children third). You need to constantly nurture this relationship and keep it healthy and well. Once your children leave the nest, you won’t be roommates with a stranger. Here are some free great date ideas to consider.
It is very healthy for children to see their parents show affection to each other as well as take time for each other. It is teaching them how to someday be a good spouse themselves.
One person you also have to care for, is yourself. You need to take time to recharge. Even if it’s just 5 minutes. Schedule it if you need to. Prioritize it like you would a doctor’s appointment. Exercise, read a book, visit a friend, watch TV, go for a walk, do a bible study. Whatever it is, don’t forget to carve some time for yourself. Ideally, you should have at least a few minutes to yourself every day. If that’s too much, maybe try to schedule one evening a week just for you. I have my small group bible study every Wednesday evening. I don’t miss it unless I’m out of town or everyone is sick. Find out what works for you and stick to it. If you keep giving everyone around you a bit of yourself every day, you won’t have anything left to give unless you take the time to recharge.
It’s simple, really. Your patience is running thin? Pray. You find yourself yelling all the time? Pray about it. You’re worried about your kids’ future? Pray. Your child is sick? Pray some more. Your kids fight all the time? Pray over that. Your baby won’t sleep through the night? Pray. Your daughter lies? Pray. Your son is being bullied? Pray.
Keep God at the centre of your life. At the very core. Don’t use him as a last resort. He probably won’t fix all of your problems. But he might give you the patience, the strength and the courage to keep going. He just might give you the fresh new perspective you need to address any of the parenting issues you’re facing. Instead of letting yourself fall into the darkness of parenting drama, give God all of your worries. Give him a chance to help you carry your heavy burdens. He can show you which path to take and hold your hand through it all. So please, stop using prayer as a last resort. It has made an enormous difference in my family. I want to see it make a huge difference in your family too. I know it can.
Here’s a 31-day prayer calendar to inspire you and to get you started.