Family

I don’t need to be educated on parenting! My parent(s) did a great job! Look how I turned out! I’ll just do what they did.

I’ve also heard the opposite:

I don’t need to be educated on parenting! My parent(s) did a horrible job! Look how I turned out! I’ll just do the opposite of what they did!

For better or worse, it seems like most parents take the “what they experienced” route as their parenting “how-to” practices.

They either experienced wonderfully supportive and loving parenting or they experienced a harsh and neglected family environment. Either way, they will just mimic what they experienced or do a 180 on what they experienced.

Before I had kids, I had all the answers for parents.

I wisely didn’t share my answers with parents, but I had them. That is until I had kids and became a parent. Those “answers” quickly faded to many questions. And I’ve got to tell you, as an educated person who knows a lot about family systems and child and adolescent development, instead of heading to the plethora of parenting materials available today, I did what most every parent does: I took what I liked (and worked) from my parents, and I discarded what I didn’t like. I defaulted to the “what I experienced” route of parenting.

Now I’m not saying that learning from experience is bad.

On the contrary, down through the ages, I imagine that parents didn’t read and research on the Internet or plow through volumes of parenting resources, but their extended family parented their kids along side of the actual parents. Wisdom and action from grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc not only informed parents’ actions, but also went right along side of the parents.

So anyway… what am I trying to say? Good question… glad you asked (otherwise I would have kept going!).

As parents we need to be informed not just from what we experienced as a kid, but also from what others have experienced and possibly wrote about.

1. You don’t have to read volumes on parenting, just a few good ones that your church and friends and family you trust might recommend to you.

  • Love and Logic is a great resource for some practical tips on raising responsible children as well as a mindset toward choices and consequences
  • Focus on the Family – the old tried and true! They have an incredible rich history of providing extremely practical and worthwhile parenting resources for families
  • Chris Spradin over @ epicparent.tv blogs about parenting quite frequently. I have found this blog to be extremely insightful and helpful as a parent. Chris pulls no punches and speaks the things that need to be spoken. That’s why his blog is titled: “Honest, On the Edge, Creative Parenting”
  • Danika Cooley blogs over at http://thinkingkids.wordpress.com/ – her byline is: “Raising Thinking Kids in an Unthinking World.” Danika has some great thoughts about her kids, marriage, education, and life.
  • Oh yeah, and the Bible… God has a lot to say about parenting (both what TO do and what NOT to do)

Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Joshua 24:15
Proverbs (search for the words: father, mother, son, discipline, correction)
Ephesians 6:1-4
Colossians 3:18-25
Hebrews 12:4-13

These are just a few resources… I’m sure others would have many more to share… in fact, why don’t you leave a comment below and share a few parenting resources!

2. It’s also worthwhile to rub shoulders with other parents who are in a similar stage of life (with your kids) as you are. Sometimes those conversations are helpful as they normalize the feelings you feel and the way your kids behave sometimes.

  • Join (or start) a small group at your church with other families in a similar stage of life as yours. About six years ago, my wife and I, along with a few other close friends started a small group of young married couples. We didn’t have kids at that time. But six years later, almost every couple in our group now has 2 or more children! We have doubled our small group just in procreation!!
  • Attend a parenting workshop (LIVE, where you have to go somewhere, not just videos on the internet) where you can meet other parents. Not only will you connect with other parents who share the same struggles you do, you might also get some good advice.

My kids are still young (ages four and three) and I’ve still got a lot to learn (no more “answers” from me!).

My hope for parents is that we don’t stop learning to be better parents. And not just “better” parents so our kids will do exactly what we did with them or so we can all write the “best” parenting book or so we can be approved by God and society. We need to be “better” parents because God has entrusted these malleable lives in our care, and we have the most far-reaching impact on the trajectory of their lives. We should all be chastened by the sheer weight of responsibility that God has placed on us.

My hope for parents is that we don’t stop learning to be better parents.

And one more thing: it actually isn’t about being a better parent.

Nope. It’s about being a disciple of Jesus. When we suffer and love, sacrifice and lean, in our pursuit of Christ and Him crucified, not only are we providing our children with a great example of what a genuine Christ-follower looks like, but we actually get to know and care about the things of God’s kingdom and not our own. We, parents, are actually children of God, too.