You show up for dinner at a friend’s house and older kids begin bullying, then excluding your kindergartner. The parents laugh it off. A trip to the neighborhood playground ends up a nightmare because 10 year olds are playing on the equipment expressly reserved for younger children and your daughter get knocked down by kids chasing each other across the rope bridge. The mother seemingly ignores the situation because she is in deep conversation with a friend, or other case scenario, there is no adult. Your 5 year old son hits your year old daughter for taking his Hot Wheel.
WHAT TO DO?
In a recent discussion I was a part of with parents under 30, the question was asked: Where do you get your parenting advice? The overwhelming agreement was that parents get their advice from peers, in other words, from each other. Research backs this up. This is a shift from the days when parents considered advice from the family and ”experts” and read books. Because of our cultural shift from book reading to short snippit articles on the web and social media, it’s much easier to hop on Facebook and ask, “What do you do with your strong-willed child?”
Although there is nothing inherently wrong with peer advice, the problem arises when parents only seek solutions from peers and when challenges arise. Or they decide that kids need to just work out issues themselves, or worse, that somehow the kids are responsible for figuring it all out and the parents are off the hook.
Here is some helpful encouragement about how to be an intentional parent:
1) DON’T WAIT FOR THE BIRTH!
There is no greater joy and fear wrapped into one cute bundle than when you strap that baby into a car seat and drive home. You probably decorated a nursery, friends threw you baby showers, and you made sure you had all the safety equipment like a proper car seat. BUT…did you read up or talk to people while you were pregnant? When we are in school, we prepare for exams and papers, when we are at work, we prepare and get trained, but oftentimes, we approach one of the most important jobs we will ever be given – that of a parent- as something that will just work itself out.
Looking for some good books?:
No More Perfect Moms by Jill Savage
No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are by Jill Savage
Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson
Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
Five Love Languages for Children by Gary Chapman
The Blessing by Gary Smalley and John Trent
No, it’s not a typo that “pray” is also #1. Praying for our children, over our children, blessing them with scripture are the most powerful words we speak.
Pray blessing over them: Numbers 6:24-26
Pray for them to be secure and not anxious: Philippians 4:6
Pray for them to encompassed by God’s physical protection and shield: Psalm 3:3
Pray that they will shine God’s light and that others will see it: Matthew 5:16
Pray that the Holy Spirit of God will give them power, love and self discipline: 2 Timothy 1:7
Pray that they will show justice and mercy and walk humbly with God: Micah 6:8
Pray that they will know how all encompassing God’s love is! These are some of my favorite scriptures in the Bible: Ephesians 3:16-19
2) IT’S OKAY TO ASK YOUR MOM
…Its wise to listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15b
Or dad, or grandmother, or aunt or sister.
It’s always good to have a couple of people you respect available for an emergency text. And your mom or aunt or grandmother might have the right piece of advice from experiences, or from learning from her mistakes.
3) ESTABLISH A PLAN OF ACTION before you go somewhere.
Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22
One of our daughters was a crash and burn type when she was a toddler. If we were at the mall, at the store, at a friend’s house, it didn’t matter. Hunger, fatigue and over stimulation were not her friends, nor mine. You know the signs of a toddler about to melt down? Yeah, well as soon as I saw them, I would gently tug on the arm of my husband the talker. “It’s time to go, ” I would whisper. “Em’s ready to go home.”
We had a plan. Now granted, sometimes my husband the talker would keep talking. Or I would get pulled into another conversation. Sometimes, people just didn’t understand. When we were young parents, it was embarrassing. But ask yourself, would you rather A) leave with a child who you can sooth in a car seat with a healthy snack, who may fall asleep on the way home, or B) force a screaming, tantrum throwing mess into a car seat? Me, too. Let’s go with Option A.
There should be established rules for places like the playground, grocery store, Target, the mall. Affirmative praise and small rewards help encourage good behavior for next time. Questions to ask yourself: How do you handle discipline in a public place? How do you handle toy sharing at the playground or pool? How do you handle whining and asking for toys? What about when grandparents visit and they may want to spoil your kids a bit?
COMMUNICATION and PLANNING are all essential. Intentional parenting raises GODfident, healthy kids into GODfident, healthy young adults.
Coming soon…part 2! Decide what works for your children and pick your battles.