Parenting advice seems to come from every direction. In addition to family, we now have Google and every social media site to influence the decisions we make with our children. Have you seen the lists scattered all over Pinterest of ‘100 Things to Teach Your Daughter” or ’15 Things Every Boy Needs to Know’? They’re awesome! I read them, reread them, and then thought ‘ I better print this out and keep it on my fridge. I’m never going to remember every one of these things!”
The lists are filled with great ideas and wonderful thoughts. But, goodness gracious, I will never remember to consistently remind Norah to dance when she’s doing laundry and I will probably never teach Jonah to build a bookshelf. I don’t even know how hang a picture right…
Parenting advice is overwhelming and that is the last thing we need as parents- more to overwhelm us. So, to set your mind at ease, my Parenting Advice 101 is this: Don’t be an Awkward Parent.
We strive to have functional friendships and relationships with our significant others, our peers, our coworkers, and everyone else…. why not implement those same rules of engagement with our kids?
I believe that my kids deserve my respect, the same way that I require theirs. I address them with love, hold them to a standard, and allow them to voice their opinions.
Even though Jonah’s opinion seems to just be “Ehhhhh!!!” and a finger point, I acknowledge his display of actions and tell him, “Jonah, we don’t whine. What would you like?” For Norah, it is more of a looong description of what she needs and why. It takes patience, but listening to her shows her that her words are important. Even if the final answer to my kid’s request is “No,” I want them to feel respected and know that I am listening.
Last week, while waiting for Norah’s gymnastics class to end I watched as two parents came in with their daughter who looked to be about 6 or 7. The Dad accidentally stepped on her toe as he sat down and he had this huge, overdone reaction about how he probably hurt her and was SO sorry. The little girl didn’t respond, she just starred at her Dad. She wasn’t hurt, it was an accident. A couple minutes later, she was playing with the toys they keep out and she tried to give a toy to another kid who was busily engaged in something else. Both the mom and dad started chiming in, “No! (Jane) No! No!” Again, no reaction from the little girl. She wasn’t being mean, I was watching her the whole time. She ignored her parents and finally, after about 10 times of hearing “No!” she moved on to a different area to play. She kept her eyes on the ground the entire time.
It was awkward. I felt like I was listening to two people trying to teach their lap dog to play fetch. The commands just weren’t cutting it. Would we ever talk to our friends like that? Make a scene over nothing? Yell “No” at them from across the room? I guess we would… if it was to save their life.
Why not ask the child to come talk to you or go to them; explain quietly why you want him/her to do something different; acknowledge that they are capable of making choices? Why not just show the child a whisper love and respect?
Don’t be an awkward parent.
Parenting doesn’t end here, but it its most basic form it gives a foundation for discipline, encouragement and relationship. If we respect our children, foster a bond, and teach them that this parent/child thing doesn’t have to be awkward, I think even we would enjoy parenting more.
We reference the love chapter when we talk about our significant others and our friends, but have we ever thought about applying it to parenting? I consider 1 Corinthian 13:5 a challenge,
“It (love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”