First off, I have to be honest and say that it is an honor to team with Paul on this series of posts. I have followed Paul’s blog from afar and look forward to meeting him in person one day. Also, I must begin with a few disclaimers regarding my “Top Five” lessons.
- Disclaimer #1 – Most if not all of the credit for my children belongs to my wife. She is the rock of our home and has taught me as much about parenting as she has our children. I often tease her that she is raising 4 children (I would be the 4th).
- Disclaimer #2 – My son is 6 years old. My daughters are 4 and 2. So the “proof is still in the pudding” as they say. I don’t know if what we are doing will win any awards, but I know that it’s the best that we know how.
Now, on to my “Top Five”
- 5. Each child is different – I have learned that each child is different. Each one needs and requires a different approach with discipline, coaching, teaching and encouraging. The key has been really getting to know how they are different and then adjusting accordingly.
- 4. “The John Eldredge Rule” – I make every effort to let my girls know that they are my princess and my son know that I believe in him. With the girls that means dancing to a song, letting them know they look beautiful, even doing some make believe if that is what it takes. With my son it is not changing the light bulb while he watches (for example), it is showing him how to change the light bulb, then letting him know how well he did that. Each one requires a validation from me that is huge. My fear is that if they don’t get it now, at home, then they will seek it elsewhere.
- 3. Be consistent – My wife is great about this. Ever since Austin was born, we have kept the same routines with bath times, prayer times, nap times and bed times. There will always been occasional exception, but we have done our best to stay the course. Sometimes we have to miss out on things later at night, but we know our kids need their rest and what time that means they go to bed. This also gives us time at night to do what we need to do to keep things balanced.
- 2. Decisions and consequences – When my son and first born was going through the terrible two’s, I called my sister who is a veteran of getting 4 children through that period. She taught me a valuable lesson about “decisions and consequences”. We have tried to teach our children that for every decision they make, there is a consequence. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing. Just as it is for adults in life, when we make good decisions, for the most part, we realize good consequences. However for those times when we make a bad decision or choice, there is a consequence. We don’t hold it over their heads, but rather try to use each time as a “teachable moment” and train them to better understand the next time that happens.
- 1. The gift – At the end of the day, even those which cause the best parent to wonder what they are doing in this role, I try to remember that each one of these children has been entrusted into my care by a loving God. Each one was predetermined to be with me for a period of time for which God is banking on my ability to mold and shape them. When I feel like I am failing, I try to remember that God knows my heart and how I am wired. He wouldn’t have put a child in my care that he didn’t equip me to raise. My time with them is brief so I do my best to savor each moment. I also thank God for the gift of each one for they are teaching me more than I think I could ever teach them.
Again, the Lord only knows if we are doing the right things. I know there have been days when I have failed to be the parent I should have been that day. In those cases, I acknowledged it with the child I felt I had let down. One thing is for sure, I am always learning and seeking to be a better parent. It’s the least I can do for the 3 little ones that the Lord has given to my wife and I. May God bless each one of us as we strive to be the parents he has called us to be.
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