When Ashley and I became parents a decade ago, we were pretty clueless about how to take care of this little human being who was now our responsibility. Along the way, we've been collecting good parenting advice for mentors, books and anywhere else we can find it. I need all the help I can get, because parenting is the hardest (and also the most important) responsibility I've ever been given.
Below is a list of the some of the advice that's helped us the most. I've still got a lot to learn, but these tips have been a tremendous source of instruction and encouragement, and I hope they're encouraging to you as well.
In no particular order...
1. Be there
for your kids in the moments that are important for them, not just the moments that are convenient for you. Kids measure your love by your time.
2. Don't miss out
on a beautiful moment with your kids, because you're trying so hard to capture that moment to share it on social media. Put the camera away sometimes and simply savor the moment. Encourage them to put down screens too. Families need less screen time and more face time.
3. Give clear rules and expectations
, but remember that rules without relationships lead to rebellion. All our rules must come from a place of love or they'll eventually lead to rebellion (and sometimes they'll lead to rebellion anyways, but keep loving your kids).
4. Don't try to make your kids think you're "perfect."
Just be real with them. Kids aren't looking for perfection; they're looking for authenticity.
5. When you've blown it, apologize
It doesn't make you look weak. A genuine apology from you is the best way to teach your kids how and why to apologize when they mess up.
6. If you have multiple children, try to block off some time each day
(even if it's only 10 minutes) where you can have uninterrupted, one-on-one time with each child. The relationship dynamics completely change in a one-on-one setting.
7. Teach your kids to be honest
more than you teach any other virtue, because honesty is the foundation for all the other virtues, and trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship.
8. The Bible (which actually has all kinds of great parenting insights) says,
"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6) In other words, don't just leave your kids on autopilot. Be intentional about defining the right path and helping them stay on the right path.
9. Don't put your marriage on hold
while you're raising your kids or else you'll end up with an "empty nest" and an empty marriage! One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is to have the kind of marriage that actually makes them want to get married someday.
10. Through your words and your actions, constantly communicate your love
for them. The Bible says that "love covers over a multitude of sins." That means love has a way of healing all those areas where we blow it as parents. If love remains our top parenting priority, everything else tends to fall into place.
This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.