Parenting is not easy. It can be one of the HARDEST job someone could have. It requires so much of us, which is probably the reason that it can cause us to grow as a person in so many ways. Through parenting, we can learn to exercise patience, forgiveness, wisdom over emotion, self-control, organization, leadership, time management, and of course, love.
I say love because love is something that has to be exercised. Real love, the one that’s not solely based on just how you feel, but instead, the one that sacrifices on behalf of another, seeks to benefit others, even if it means putting yourself second.
I’ll be honest. I’m not a natural to love. I wish I had lots of the natural feelings attached to love that come to some parents. You know, that mushy gushy feeling some parents get over their kids. Now, I know not every parent struggles with this, but I know that some do. I was talking to a friend not long ago just being honest and sharing this and she said, “I really appreciate you sharing that with me. I feel like that a lot.”
Now, not having those feelings doesn’t justify not doing the right thing. If we did everything based off our emotions, we would likely end up with some messed up kids, either too spoiled (giving them whatever they want to please them) or too hurt (demeaning or demoralizing them because we lack self-control).
So, for this reason, it’s important to create family values for which you want your family to do their best to live. Simply doing this is an act of love in itself. It takes time and commitment creating such a thing, but it is for the greater good. Once your family values are laid out, you have something to evaluate with; something to go back to and see if your behavior, or your child’s, meets up to your family values and is not just falling back on the feelings and emotions of the moment.
Creating family values creates VISION. Where there is no vision, the people perish. Great companies all have vision statements. People who change the world start with a vision. If you plan on leading your family to success, it’s important to have a vision and create a value system to match it. You could also call these values a mission.
Your values can be anything:
“We will speak to each other in a respectful tone, with a calm face, voice, and body.”
“We will leave the house looking clean, tidy, and smelling good from head to toe. We will be modest in our choices of clothes.”
That way, when someone doesn’t fulfill the values, instead of getting upset, you refer them to your family values.
Having a value system helps me keep a more positive home environment. I am far from perfect, but I’ll be the first to admit that I need order and peace in my home. Grace and compassion are not easy for me so having a value system helps fill in the gaps and helps me not go into panic mode when my kids make mistakes or behave poorly. It also helps me be accountable for my own behavior.
To balance a loving home atmosphere with one where there is discipline, I make an effort to spend quality time with my kids. This means putting down my phone, laptop, or book and just reading to them or having conversations. I don’t think it’s always easy because it feels like I have lots to do all the time, but if I want to develop a good relationship that balances out discipline and relationship, then it’s something I have to hold as a priority. It is the same for them as well. They may not realize the value of spending time together as a family so, for now, you have to decide that for them. Have them turn off their screen time or not go to their friend’s house so you can all connect and know each other. It can be easy to think that just because you all live in the same house and eat out of the same fridge you know each other, but life moves quickly and lots of things can get missed in the hustle and bustle of life.
I also find that nighttime conversations are the best times to just talk about stuff. Kids tend to open up a lot in the calmness and quietness of bedtime and it seems a good time to have good dialogue and address concerns.
Consistency is also important. Figure out what really matters and be consistent about it. Don’t be wishy-washy. Your kids have figured you out and they need to know you are serious when you say something and not just hear meaningless words. Not following through only makes things more difficult for you later so you have to make the effort now so things get easier later, not worse. By the way, not following through is the same as lying. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. Eventually, people stop believing you. Eventually, your kids stop believing you and they will do what they want anyways so why set yourself up for that? Instead, be a person of your word. Let your kids know that when you say something, you mean it!
Getting to know my kids’ love language is also valuable. If you’ve never taken the love language quiz or read the book, you should. It’s a great way to know how your spouse and kids like to receive love. Some people feel loved through gifts, while others through quality time. I may be trying to reward my kid one way, but they may receive it much better another. Of course, there is no harm done in rewarding, but we can make them benefit in a way that speaks to them best. For instance, getting gifts is not very rewarding to me, but quality time or words of affirmation do mean a lot to me. Although I appreciate gifts, I really enjoy when people take time out of their day to hang out with me.
Parenting isn’t all instincts. It takes thought, strategy, wisdom and being open to the good advice of others. It means both taking the time to know our kids while also creating reasonable expectations for them. When we give it our best while trying to balance love and raising good citizens, we are doing a great justice to our family and the world. Our decisions and investment make a great impact on our kids. It’s both a responsibility and privilege!