Kelly over at http://www.kellyskornerblog.com/ has asked us to share our best parenting advice on this week's "Show Us Your Life". So, here it is. My Top 10 Parenting Tips:
1. Let them be kids
Encourage your kids to play, and to act their age. They are only young once! I do feel that children should be expected to help out around the house by doing a small amount of chores. However, I DO NOT think they should be working their fingers to the bone every waking minute. Nor, should they be responsible for taking care of and raising their siblings. There will be time enough for that when they are older, and have families of their own. Don't try to make them grow up too fast. Let them just enjoy being a child.
2. Teach them manners
If you don't....who will? Teach them to say "please" and "thank you"and "excuse me". Teach them to chew with their mouth closed, be polite, not talk too loud or about inappropriate things in public, etc. You get the picture. Show them how to act in social settings, and give them opportunities to learn "on the job". Take them out in public so they can practice!
3. Give them a regular bedtime and don't let them sleep in your bed
This is for the parents benefit, as much as the children! At the end of a long, hard day, the last thing you need is a child who stays up all hours of the night. Parents need a break! You need time to just relax, or spend time with your spouse, without kids hanging on you all night. This also allows the kids to have the proper amount of rest that they need to function.
Now, not letting them sleep in your bed is a tough one. I was a nursing mother, and there were many nights where I just let the baby sleep in bed with me. We all got more sleep that way! But, I only did that for a short time, because we felt it was important to keep our bed "ours". If you start this habit, when do you stop? The child gets used to sleeping in bed with you, and it quickly becomes the "family" bed. If they never get used to it, you never have to break them of this habit! It is so important to be able to spend "couple" time together, and how can you do that if there is always someone else in your bed?
4. Be their parent and not their friend
You want your kids to like you, so this can be hard. They have enough friends, but only two parents. Make sure to discipline them, even if you don't want to. They must learn that their actions have consequences.
5. Allow them to do things/go places without you
It is tempting as a parent to want to shelter your kids, and keep them close to you at all times. It is scary to let them do things that might cause them injury or harm. Let them ride the zip line, go on that mission trip, do that thing that terrifies you. I'm sure you can think of many different things, just like I can. In the end, we just have to trust God to take care of them. We can't and won't always be there for them, but HE will.
Also, make sure that you allow them time away from you, especially when they are little. They need to learn that it is OK if you are not there all the time, that other people can take care of them. Make a regular date night with your spouse, and leave them with a babysitter. They will be fine, and you will be a better parent because of it.
6. If you have more than one child, don't compare them, and don't pick a favorite child
No one likes to feel like they are being compared to someone else, especially if they are not on the "winning" side. It is hard as a parent not to play that game, and I admit, I have been guilty in the past of saying things I wish I hadn't. Things like "Why can't you do such and such? Your six year old sister can!" That never ends well. I know that I don't like to be compared. NOT AT ALL. Let them be themselves. Each person is an individual, with their own strengths and weaknesses.
The Bible talks about what happens when a parent picks a favorite child and treats them differently. Remember Joseph? His brothers hated him, and actually sold him into slavery because of the special treatment his father gave him. Just don't do it. I have a little joke with my girls that each of them is my favorite. My favorite oldest, my favorite middle, and my favorite youngest daughter.
7. Don't allow them to show disrespect to you or others
If you think it is "cute" when they talk back to you when they are 2 or 3, they are going to think it is all right when they are older, and it is NOT so cute. Want an example? This is just one of many examples I could have shown you from this show. At the beginning, and then if you go to 2:53, you will see what I mean.
8. Don't let them be a bully
Teach them that it is NOT OK to hit others, belittle them, or abuse them. Even between siblings. Teach them to stick up for others, and to treat people the way they want to be treated.
9. Encourage them, but don't try to live your life over through them
Maybe little Susie doesn't want to play piano, but your dream was to be a concert pianist. Or, little Billy doesn't want to play sports, but you want him to be the captain of the football team. You had your chance. Maybe you didn't get to do all that you wanted as a child, or to be the star. It is not your child's responsibility to live your dreams. God designed them a certain way, with certain gifts and talents. You trying to change that is like planting an apple seed, and expecting an orange tree to grow. Let them live the life THEY want to. Find out what interests THEM, and encourage them to be the best they can be.
10. Teach them about God
Last but not least, teach them about God! Take them to church, pray with them, read the Bible and Bible stories to them. There is nothing more important that you could do for them, than to show them the way to Heaven. Nothing. This life is over in the blink of an eye. Then, there is eternity. Make sure they will be spending it with Jesus. Teach them how to live moral, upstanding lives. Teach them to be faithful, loyal, honest, and trustworthy. Teach them to live their lives in a way that pleases God. That is a lot of responsibility on us as parents. But, if God has blessed us with children, it is what He requires of us.