There are no perfect parents. No one knows that better than someone who is a parent. When you’re growing up, you are very aware of the mistakes your parents make with you. You promise yourself that when you have children you will not make these same mistakes with them. And for most of us, this is true. We made a different set of mistakes.
Often, parents place themselves under the burden of being perfect. However, being “good enough” is all that is necessary. Here are five things “good-enough” parents can do to give their children a head start in life:
Give Your Child a Healthy Self–Now
This can be accomplished in the first 3 to 5 years of life. First of all, just consistently love your child. You want to be sure to keep your approval within your child’s reach and when your child performs up to the level of that approval commend the child.
Give Your Child a Healthy Respect for Life
First of all, you can do this by just teaching your child to be affectionate with other people. Hug the child, smile at the child, and encourage the child to hug you. Encouraging the child to hug his father, his mother, his brothers, his sisters is important. And for them to hug him. That’s teaching the child to be affectionate with people.
Then you teach your child to affectionately care for pets. This is one of the first caring relationships he/she has when you buy your small child a dog or a cat. You teach them to care for their pets and how important it is to stroke that animal and to let that animal bond to them. This will bring on the characteristic of compassion and make a caring person out of the child.
Brag on your child. With a very young child, clap your hands for the child. The little baby understands that language and that’s where self-confidence is built in the child, by reaching the level of approval that the parent sets for the child. So you want to communicate love to the child and by keeping your approval within the child’s reach, you want to create self-confidence in the child.
Certainly you want to discipline the child and you need to differentiate between discipline and punishment. Discipline is the comprehensive term. It includes punishment, but you only punish the child when the child is in physical danger during this time.
By far the most of your attention should be approving the child’s behavior when you can, because it’s in rewarding that approved behavior that you’re teaching the child what to do. You should be certain to verbally approve your child’s good behavior. Because that’s where discipline does its best work. The child then knows the behavior that the parent wants. I sometimes say reward the behavior because you’ll get the behavior you
I also think it’s a wonderful thing to teach a small child to plant a seed and then take the child back to where the seed is planted day after day after day to see that seed become a plant, a beautiful, living part of the child’s world.
Give Your Child a Healthy View of God
Your child’s concept of God will grow out of his or her relationship with you, and the child’s relationship with the father is particularly important. Remember, Paul says in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, bring your children up in the nurture of the Lord… For the child’s relationship with his father on earth provides a major input to the child’s relationship with his Father in heaven.
If you want the child to see God as a loving God, then love the child. If you want the child to feel God’s approval is within his reach, then keep your approval within the child’s reach. Then if you want the child to trust God, develop a trusting relationship with the child.
You develop that trust by following through on your promises. Treat your child’s trust like a treasure. Don’t break that trust, because trusting the parent is the first link to trusting God. I know that we can’t be as reliable as God to keep His word, but we certainly can demonstrate over time that we are parents who follow through on our promises, who keep our word with our child.
That is vital in building a base for the child to later trust a God who keeps His word.
Give Your Child a Healthy Love for Others
This begins by teaching your child to respect the person and property of others. When the first child comes that’s reamed by teaching the child to respect your person and your property so that you don’t allow the child to use crayons on the walls and you don’t allow the child to destroy the furniture. Then you extend that to the brothers and sisters as they come along in the family.
By loving the child and drawing on that affectionate relationship you build with them, you can temper even the strong-willed child and teach him to be unselfish. Then you need to teach your child how to play fairly and that the fun of playing is the reason you play. You don’t just play to win.
Finally, we need to teach our children how to assess the character of other people. Believe not, this kind of assessment can begin very early in life. Children sense very quickly when they’re dealing with a bully when they’re dealing with someone that unforgiving or unfair in the way they relate to other children. And although it will be several years before they’ll have the abstract intelligence to explain that morally, they have the innate sense to know that at this time. Reinforcing that is very important.
Give Your Child a Sense of Meaning and Purpose In Life
Be sure your child understands how unique each person is. Begin to explain to your child that God has a purpose in life for each of us. You can do this very early. The 3-, 4-, 5-year-old child has a simplicity about his ability to trust God, to pray and to believe God. That’s the time when the child’s mind is first open to spiritual things, so that we can begin to make the child see how important it is to discover God’s will and purpose for his or her life.
Help your child understand that God’s purpose is discovered through His gifts. Cultivate curiosity in the mind and heart of the child as to how God has gifted him and where God has gifted him.
These gifts are discovered through the abilities God has given, so notice what your child does well and notice what your child obviously has delight in doing. These are the early hints of where God will lead him. These are early indications of the purpose God has in store for your child’s life.
You want to teach the child that work is fun, that work is enjoyable. Remember, your child will spend more time working as an adult than in any other activity but sleep. It’s really an injustice to teach the child that work is non-fun activity. People who really enjoy work are the ones who are going to get the most out of life.
Teach your children that work activity is an enjoyable activity. And when they find the kind of work that they are good at, that they are gifted in, whether it’s in their heads, their hearts, their hands or a combination of these things, one of these days God will help them earn their living and represent Him among people in this kind of activity and this kind of activity will be enjoyable for them. So you educate your children to enjoy their work.
A child furnished with these strengths is well prepared for life. Take a look at the demands you are placing on yourself as a parent. Are you majoring in minors? Stop parenting by the moment. Get the big picture. Our primary responsibility is to prepare our children for the future. When we do this, we are positioning the child to know God’s highest and best.