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Secrets of Parenting
Photo: Benjamin Earwicker
Being a good parent is simple, but, not easy. The principles are straightforward, really just common sense. Sticking to them is hard work. The results are worth it.

Set A Good Example. Kids grow up doing what their parents do. If you go to church, they will go to church. If you are reliable, they will grow up to be reliable. If you smoke, cuss and drink? Guess what they will do? Make the example they follow a positive one.

You Are A Parent, Not A Friend. Friends say yes. Parents say no. They have to. Parents set boundaries, fill their kids’ needs, keep them from doing dumb or stupid things and mean stuff like that. Children need friends, but they need parents more. They find friends. They only have one set of parents. It is not always fun, but be a parent first.  Set limits. Make sure they eat right and get to bed. Your children will become friends—when they are adults.

Be Consistent. Children need stability—especially with rules. Set a standard and stick to it. Do not allow them to do something one day and not the next “just because.” This does not mean rules can not ever change. Rules change as your children grow. Imagine using the same rules with your teenager that you had when your child was four? But have a reason for changing them as you do change them.

Two Parents Outvote One. What one parent says goes. Moms and dads often have different ideas about things. Kids figure that out. Dad says no? Ask mom if it is okay. Do not let your kids play that game. If one parent says no, then the answer is no. If one parent says yes, the answer is yes. Even if you would have said something else support your spouse. What if you think your spouse has blown a call? Or you are wrong but were first? Get together and decide the parent position among the two of you. Then tell the kids new ruling, and why.

Admit When You are Wrong—And Apologize. Even mom and dad make mistakes. You will jump to conclusions, impose punishments unfairly, or say something that is just plain wrong. What to do when that happens? Admit to your children that you were wrong. Explain why. Then apologize. Return the money you penalized them, or the baseball you confiscated, or whatever. It takes an adult to admit error. Your children will think more of you—and emulate your behavior.

Foster Independence. Parents succeed when the kids leave the nest and start families of their own—not when they are still living in your house in their twenties and thirties. Give your children opportunities to exercise judgment and responsibility. Start small when they are young, and keep adding more. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment. Let your children get experience when you can guide them.

These things are simple—but lots of work. Stick with it, and you will get a prize—adult children to be proud of.

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By Mark N. Lardas, copyright 2007, Mark N. Lardas, all rights reserved.  Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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