We all want to be good parents.
And considering that raising a child is one of the most important things we will do in our lifetime, it is amazing how unprepared we are for the job. We wait till our children arrive and then try to figure out what to do, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. We may have spent some time studying up about “the first year”. And of course we decorate the nursery and buy cute little onesies. However, I think mostly we are terrified of what is about to happen.
Thing 1 and Thing 2 (discussed below) describe the groundwork for a way of thinking about being a parent. So even if your children are teenagers, read on. It’s not too late. In fact, it is never too late to become a better parent.
Thing 1 – Relating and Attaching
Thing 1 (a) Relating and Attaching to God
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37
I have loved you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
How do you as a person relate to God? Do you strive to follow Him daily? Do you understand His love for you and how he desires to have a relationship with you? Although this is an ongoing lifelong process, as a parent, it is necessary to be aware of where you currently are in this process, and to be actively pursuing God more and more.
Thing 1 (b) Relating and Attaching to Your Spouse
Let each one of you love his wife as himself and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33
The best gift parents can give their children is to love and respect one another as husband and wife. When children see this on a daily basis, they feel safe and secure. Children will learn how to relate well with others by observing this in their parents. One day they will probably duplicate in their own lives what was modeled for them.
Thing 2 – Planking into Parenthood
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5
Probably not exactly what you would expect as a verse applicable to parenting. But let’s look at this verse from the aspect of emotional and relational health.
One of my favorite analogies to illustrate this idea comes from the airline industry. Anyone who has ever flown knows the “oxygen mask spiel” given by the flight attendants before every flight. We are all very clear that if the plane is about to crash and the oxygen mask falls down, we are to first put on our oxygen mask before assisting the small child next to us. The theory is that you have to be helped before you can help your child. Makes sense, right?
This works from an emotional/relational standpoint as well as from an oxygen enrichment standpoint. Parents need to be as emotionally and relationally healthy as possible so they can help their children be emotionally and relationally healthy. We as parents need to remove our plank of unhealthy ways of dealing with emotions, and unhealthy ways of relating to people, so that we can see clearly to help our children.
If you have never worked on your own emotional issues, (and we all have some), begin the process now. You will be amazed at what you will learn about yourself. You will begin to change your patterns of relating with others to more healthy patterns. You will make better decisions. You will feel more closely connected to God. If you already have children, you will relate to them better. If you aren’t a parent yet, you can start off healthier from their very first day.
Here are a few suggestions for more reading:
About Relating to God, (http://www.disciplebuilding.org/2012/02/10/pocket-principle-relating-to-god/)
About healing emotionally, download How Emotional Problems Develop. (http://www.disciplebuilding.org/ministries/restorative-ministry/)
About one young parent’s thoughts on beginning her healing process, http://www.disciplebuilding.org/2012/04/23/restoring-your-heart-a-participants-story/
As you begin your journey towards becoming more healthy emotionally, check back on our website soon for the next parenting blog, where we will talk about some parenting goals and how to implement them.
What have you done or what will you do to begin your Better Parent Process? We would love for you to share your thoughts and insights with us.