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Good Kids
Photo: Maureen Plainfield
Once I served as an election judge. My wife was one of my clerks. We left home at 5:15 a.m., worked non-stop all day, and got home, after dropping off the ballot box, at 11:00 p.m.. Exhausted, we had more to do. I still had to take the dog for her evening walk. My wife insisted that we both eat something hot before going to bed.

Entering the kitchen we found a surprise. The table was set for two. The house was quiet. Neither the dog, nor our youngest son greeted us. About the time we realized that neither one was in the house, we heard the front door open. It was my son, with the dog.

“Where were you?” I asked.

He gave me the look teens reserve for clueless parents. “I thought you and mom would be tired,” he said. “So I set the table, and walked the dog. Have you eaten?” 

“Mom’s taking care of it.” I said.

“OK,” he replied and went off to his room.

We had not asked him to do any of this. He did it on his own, because he thought it the right thing to do.

Of all of God’s blessings, children, you can be proud of, are the greatest. My wife and I are greatly blessed. We have three great kids. They are hard-working, honest, independent, and considerate. They are imperfect. A perfect child would not have given me the “dumb parent” look. I’ll take my sons with their flaws.

Something Right

One good kid may be dumb luck. Three means my wife and I did something right. What were our secrets?

1. Spend time with your children.  With us, one parent stayed home with them while they were growing. It involved sacrifice: driving old cars and tight budgets. What bigger investment do parents have than their children? If you cannot keep a parent home full-time, involve yourself in your children’s activities. Spending the evening at a scout meeting instead watching television is an effort, but it pays off. 

2. Set a good example.  Kids watch their parents, even when you do not realize it. Lie when it is convenient – even “white” lies—they will figure honesty is unimportant. Drink, and they will think sobriety is unimportant. Do the right thing around them—all the time.

3. Set and stick to reasonable rules. You are the adult—with an adult’s experience and wisdom that children lack. You know better than they do, even if they do not believe that. Stick to the rules yourself, setting a good example. 

4. Enforce discipline. You are a parent, not a friend. Enforcing rules may make you unpopular with your kids, but it is necessary. Keep discipline firm but not harsh—tinged with mercy when appropriate.

5. Show them you love them. Children need love like plants need rain—even teenage children. Show your children you love them, especially when they misbehave, and even when you have to discipline them.

6. Stick together. As parents you are a team. Do not let your kids play one parent against the other. 

7. Pray. God gives wisdom and patience so needed as a parent. (See James 1:5)

Does this work? It did for us.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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