My wife Ashley and I recently got a home security system. Previously, my only "home security" was keeping a Louisville Slugger under my bed! When people would ask me "Do you own a gun?" I would smile, flex my relatively miniature muscles and say, "Yeah, I own two guns!" Needless to say, it was time for an upgrade in our home security.
The high-tech system alerts us whenever a door is opened. We wanted the added security for two reasons: We wanted to keep bad things out of our home AND we wanted to keep good things (our kids) in our home. Now, we'll know if our toddler decides to unlock the front door and wander outside in the middle of the night.
The system makes us feel safer, but we've come to realize that the most important things we can do to protect our family can't be done by a high-tech security system, the protection must come through our actions as parents.
Below are the ways every parent must safeguard his or her family (in no particular order):
1. Be consistent in your parenting
Kids crave consistency. Especially in the areas of discipline, values and expectations, it's vital that we clearly communicate the standards and stick to it. When we don't, we're sabotaging our kids' sense of security and stability.
2. Be aware of what your kids are watching
In our on-demand, tech-savvy culture, kids have instant access to a world of entertainment and some of it (maybe most of it) isn't good for them. Most kids (on average) are exposed to pornography before they turn twelve-years-old.
3. Steer your kids towards healthy friends
Teach your kids to love everybody and show respect to all people, but also them that they need to be highly-selective when it comes to choosing their inner circle of friends. This has nothing to do with popularity or cliques, but it has everything to do with recognizing that our character is either strengthened or weakened by our closest friends.
4. Don't allow disrespect, drama or sarcasm in your home
The tone of your words will create the tone of your home. If you want to safeguard your home from negativity, then don't allow a negative tone to rule under your roof. Be encouragers; not critics.
5. Don't argue with your spouse in front of your kids
One way we can harm our children is by exposing them to adult problems too early which makes them feel overwhelmed and powerless over their lives.
6. Don't just teach "rules," teach "values."
Protecting your kids means showing them corrective discipline, but it also means encouraging healthy values which can be a compass to guide them through life.
7. Eat together
This was may sound overly simple, but research and life experience suggests a strong link between sharing family meals and the emotional health of kids. Sit down around the table and reconnect with food and laughter daily.
8. Teach your family history
I recently read a study that said the most important thing parents can to to create emotional stability in their children is to teach them their family history. The study said that a richer sense of the past gave kids a greater feeling of identity and optimism for the future. I'm not convinced it's the "most important thing," but definitely important.
9. Pray with and for your kids
Giving your children a foundation of faith will help them weather the storms of life and will give them a solid foundation for life.
10. Love each other
No parent is perfect, so you're bound to make mistakes, but love has the power to cover over all those places where we mess up. Love is our most important duty and privilege as parents.
This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.