10 Fundamental Guidelines for Healthy, Effective Parenting
1. Expect your kids to grow to be approximately as healthy, responsible, and emotionally mature as you are. This is not a guarantee, but it is very likely.
2. Be a facilitator of pain in your children’s lives. We’re not talking about cruelty or abuse here. Let’s be clear on that. But sparing your children from painful consequences when lessons need to be learned is not a loving act – it is a crippling one. Do what you can to be sure they suffer enough for their foolishness that they will think twice about repeating it.
3. Be sure your kids know you are their advocate. Create opportunities to openly encourage and build up your kids.
4. Put your effort into understanding your child before trying to “fix” your child. Compassion and grace are often more powerful motivators than judgment and fear.
5. Instill confidence and greater ability in your kids by challenging them. Give them opportunities (within reason) to take on something that is a little bigger than what you KNOW they can accomplish. This sends a powerful message that you believe in them.
6. Apologize when you know you were wrong. Kids are bright. They know when you are out of line. Model healthy relationships to them by admitting your errors humbly and directly. Authority is not just about position and power – it is also about integrity.
7. If you have teenagers, keep in mind that you are NEVER up to speed on what their culture and technology is really like. But work hard to keep from falling too far behind.
8. Lighten up! Life goes on beyond the bleakness and boneheaditis of today.
9. Keep learning as you go. Make the most of opportunities to learn from your mistakes, other parent-mentors, and good books and resources.
10. Expect your kids to grow to be approximately as healthy, responsible, and emotionally mature as you are. This is not a guarantee, but it is very likely.
p.s. – By the way, the above picture of my family at the beach is a great example of the significance of #1, 4, 6, 8, 9, & 10 in action. My son was not in the mood for taking pictures, and did not want to cooperate. I pretty much ruined the experience for everyone by getting bent out of shape with him and the whole situation, and commencing to act more immature than my five year old son. Say “Cheese!” What may look like three genuine smiles to the untrained eye are actually facial expressions of, “Yeah, you better smile, or I’m gonna wring your neck!” “This is the closest you’re going to get to a real smile out of me, so make the most of the shot!” and “Why am I on vacation with these two ridiculous boys?!”