Where does successful parenting begin? Does it begin at the birth of a child? Having a child makes you a parent but it doesn’t make you a successful one. Does it begin with reading books on child development or parenting strategies or techniques? While this can prove helpful, good parenting must begin somewhere else.
Then, where does successful parenting begin? It begins with the person you see in the mirror. That’s right. Good parenting begins with the person you are. Who you are, your character, is the most important issue in parenting. No matter what you “know” about parenting, no matter how prepared you think you are to be a good parent, the real and most important issue is who you are as a person.
Character is the ultimate issue of life. It is not what we accumulate or how successful we are by society’s standards that are most important. All those we leave behind when we die. But character is another matter. That is who we are and is all we will take with us.
If you have been entrusted to rear children you should pause to consider the meaning of your existence and seek to mold your character to that purpose. In practical terms this means to commit our life to God and his lordship in our life. Living out this commitment means to accept Christ as your savoir and grow in his likeness and to genuinely treat others as you want to be treated. This will bring your life into conformity with Jesus’ statement in Matthew 22:34-40.Once you have committed your life to live out life’s true purpose, then and only then can you guide your child toward that purpose. Think about it. Do it for yourself and your child.
One of the greatest challenges of human relationships is to keep our personal stuff from creating unnecessary issues. In other words, we need to learn to own our stuff. For example, if you are person who always needs to be in charge, you can make others uncomfortable with your need to control or have things your way.
Refusing to recognize and deal with our “stuff” may cause others to have little to do with us. However, our children cannot easily avoid us and may choose unhealthy behaviors to deal with our stuff.
Children often adapt unhealthy reactions to a parent’s angry tirades, abuse, anxiety or any number of other issues. One example of this is the child who becomes a “pleaser.” This child doesn’t dare do or say anything that might create discomfort for someone even if he/she has been highly offended by their actions.
How does a child come to be this way? Most likely they learned early to stuff her feelings out of fear of setting off a parent’s explosive temper. Their “pleaser” ways may protect them from the parent’s anger but can have a big downside. They may come to believe they can’t have strong negative feelings. So, feelings are stuffed or the person can become passive aggressive. Certainly, they can’t take the risk of expressing her feelings directly and openly. Continuing on this path of stuffing their anger may lead to avoiding all kinds of conflicts and develop very shallow relationships in life.
What do you think could happen an angry parent had becomes able to own their stuff? It would meant they could learn to apologize and the child wouldn’t have had to internalize the parent’s stuff. It would mean the child could grow up with a more balanced emotional life.
What stuff do you need to own? What, if any, unresolved anger or insecurity do you need to address so your kid won’t have to deal with it? If you don’t own it, it is quite likely your child, and perhaps others, will have to deal with it.
How does your child handle success or failure? Is there any connection to how you handle success or failure?
Your child’s view of his performance in school, sports, music, relationships and various other pursuits affects the way he sees himself. Obviously, if your child is able to have some level of accomplishment in these areas he gains confidence and, therefore, tends to feel good about himself. Over time the ability to accomplish may lead to venturing out into more challenging pursuits. All children like to accomplish and the feelings of pride and confidence that come with it.
You can greatly aid your child in this area by involving him or her in helping around the house. Your child wants to feel big and able to do important things. Start early to teach them to be a “helper.” Teach them to fold clothes, work in the yard, load the dishwasher and do various other tasks. Second, choose tasks they are capable of doing and congratulate them when they accomplish their work.
As you involve your child in helpful activities around the house you are doing several important things in addition to helping your child’s sense of himself. You are preparing him to learn to work. You are also demonstrating that families can and need to share in the work of the family. And, you are also preparing your child for the time he will become independent of you.
Defeat is difficult for all of us to accept. However,an occasional defeat can be a good thing if handled correctly. But, I’m not concerned here with the occasional loss of a game or getting a grade in school that is less than desirable. What should concern us as parents is a pattern of defeat which discourages our child to the point they feel hopeless. Your child can play on a team that loses every game but not have a defeated attitude about life. Why? Because other aspects of his life where he feels successful and secure can counterbalance occasional losses.
But, how do we create a balance which helps our child gain confidence without becoming prideful? Emphasize the the need to be grateful and recognize God as the source of our gifts and accomplishments. This will guard against inordinate pride and the sense that our worth is based on what we can do.