We’ve been doing some pretty serious “how to do church” posts the last couple of weeks on the blog. so I thought for the rest of this week we’d look at more life lesson stuff. One of the most challenging and rewarding parts of my life is being a parent, so I want to share some lessons from the last 25 years of parenting. I originally wanted to call this series, “How to not suck as a parent”, but I was worried how that might show up in search engines. So let’s talk about How to Grow Kids You (and your friends) Enjoy.
Lesson 1: Children make lousy centerpieces
Little kids, at least mine, are so cute and cuddly it is easy to make them the center of your universe. “What can Mommy and Daddy do to make your little life more wonderful?” The goal becomes maximizing happiness while minimizing pain no matter the cost. The problem is that catering to their little wishes and whims turns children into pests that your friends want to squish like cockroaches. (I’m serious, ask them.) Eventually you too will be looking at the can of Raid and thinking thoughts of pesticide. Stop the madness before it starts.
The best advice I got on parenting was from Gary Ezzo who taught me, “Treat your children as welcome guests in your home. You and your wife had a home before they showed up, and you will have a home after they leave. The children need to know that the home does not revolve around them.” My parents lived by this motto long before Gary was wrote a book. My siblings and I always knew that we were loved, we were cared for and we were welcome in our home as long as we knew our place. And that place was not the center. Center was for God, next to God was mom, right next to mom was dad. I think I came somewhere between my little brother and the sofa. At least I was ahead of the dog. I think. And oddly enough we all turned out fairly normal, mildly successful and mostly happy. Who knew?
Start early and stick with the program. Sometimes you will say no because they don't need what they are asking for, sometimes you will say no because you can't give them what they want, and sometimes you will say no because there is no better lesson in life then to learn how to deal with no. And sometimes you will say yes just because it is so much more fun than no. Love your kids, play with your kids, care for your kids. And remind your kids often that their happiness is not the goal of your home. The goal is to raise kids people like so that when they leave, and they will leave, they will have a successful life and you will have a happy home.
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