Grocery shopping at the super store is a pretty brutal experience. Throw in a few under-5 children and the blanks in your mad lib shopping adventure multiply. We’ve all been there, either as an innocent (or quietly judgmental) bystander, or as the butt of the “your parenting skills suck” glare. And this is only the public parental shaming.
Many times a day we shame, compare, and lament to ourselves all of the many shortcomings we experience as parents moment by moment. You’re probably not ruining your kids people.
This is my first in a series of posts on parenting. In this post, I will outline my basic operating procedure as a parent, and I will point you to the resources that have best served me along the way.
What I’m Not Saying
With any summary, there are many things left out and many things assumed. A few of the things I’m going to leave out on purpose (note: I’m not assuming you know these things or that they’re not important) are the need to “shepherd your child’s heart” and how to catechize your kids.
I will talk about opportunities to show mercy and grace throughout this practical framework, but this is not a systematic approach to a teaching-centered approach to parenting. Don’t get me wrong, teaching is very important and we are teaching our children how to be in the world in every moment, but these series of posts and illustrations will focus more on parenting method and less on how to be a good teacher of theology to kids. Again, this is certainly not less important, but it isn’t what I’m writing about.
An Outline (that I’ll fill in later)
- Give yourself a break. Again, you’re probably not ruining your kids.
- Become the expert on your child. This is both a very simple task and a very difficult one. Most of the info and framework that I will be outlining here will come from an excellent little book called The Difficult Child: Expanded and Revised Edition. Essentially, I will cover how to know or categorize your child’s (complex) personality, in what ways we communicate to our kids that we’re not in control, and a few practical illustrations on how to move forward with (sometimes) difficult kids.
- I’m a dad of boys, so I’ll forward along a bit more expertise from Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. Really, this book has to be experienced in it’s entirety, but I will distill it’s basic arguments and will also include some (often times hilarious) illustrations.
- First time obedience (mixed with patience, grace, discipline, repetition, and consistency). This one is pretty self-explanatory and fun.
Note for parents of girls: understanding boys is essential reading for understanding your husbands as well (and by way of comparison, very helpful on discerning how to raise girls as well).