Thirty-six years ago, I was blessed to marry a wonderful man. My husband, Jim, and I have two grown children and two beautiful grandchildren. The world is a different place than it was when we married. And tips about raising children in today’s world are invaluable.
There are many challenges facing today’s children. Video games, constantly changing technology, bullying, competition for grades, and status in sports are all part of life. In raising my children and grandchildren, I’ve observed a few things. I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned.
1. Good old-fashioned play is wonderful. Kids do not need everything that beeps, talks, or makes noise. Building blocks, play kitchens, and books are inspiring ways to foster imagination. Take your children to safe playgrounds and areas where they can interact with others and release energy. Alternately, allow them quiet time to play and learn on their own.
2. Rest and sleep are important. I’m not in favor of television or computers in the bedroom. Good sleep habits are developed at a young age, and a bedtime routine with quiet time, reading or prayer, is something that should be encouraged.
3. Jesus is our friend. I loved to read Bible stories to my grandson from a young age. I wish I had read more of them to my own children. Teach children to love Jesus in their hearts and embrace the stories of His unconditional love.
4. Believe in helping others. I love to see parents bringing their young children to our ministry’s community breakfasts. Children as young as 5 or 6 can assist with serving, clean up, or welcoming. When you support ministries and bring your children, you are teaching them good stewardship.
5. Set an example. If you want your children to treat others as they wish to be treated, you must practice this yourself. If they are going to mimic us (and they will), we need to exemplify mature, honest, and responsible behavior. Attending church and supporting ministries sends the message that these things are important. If we are disengaged, our children will be as well.
6. Accept our flaws and imperfections. Only God is perfect. We should not have unreasonable standards for ourselves or our children. Projecting our own insecurities and unfulfilled aspirations onto children and teens can cause emotional problems later. Let your child’s own interests emerge, and help them develop the confidence to fulfill their dreams. Provide guidance and pay attention when they are stressed. Allow them to make mistakes and learn from them, not feel guilt or shame when failing.
7. Teach healthy boundaries. Children should not be free to set their own bedtimes and generally make decisions that belong to their parents. If you need assistance with boundaries, consider counseling or meeting with your spiritual adviser for guidance.
8. Practice forgiveness. The words “I’m sorry” should be a part of daily life. There is no shame in apologizing; actually it is cleansing. Confessions of dishonesty should be met with love and acceptance, not scolding or anger. Jesus preached forgiveness and we should remember that we are only human.
Being a good parent is a difficult job. The internet has created both good and bad sources of information on everything including parenting. Keep Jesus in your heart, and ask for help when you need it. A family grounded in faith can weather many storms.