My wife and I are one year away from having an empty nest. It is an exciting and challenging time as we let go of the reigns of parenting school-age children. Through the years of parenting four boys, we have learned a few things about being a parent. Today I want to share the three biggest lessons I know.
- You are to instruct your children. You are required to teach them about faith, love, service, behavior, attitude, actions, and everything in between. You need to tell them what to do and how to do it. You are the parent, and you do not need to discuss anything with them. A parent is required to lead and not be passive in the life of their child.
- Say “No” and mean it. I am not sure when it happened, but most of the young parents I know are afraid to say no. I think it might be motivated by the idea that we want to be loving toward them, and loving parents do not ever say no. I guess we are afraid it will hurt their delicate psyche. Hear me loud and clear; you need to say no. You need to teach them the correct behavior.
- Discipline is a necessary part of parenting. There needs to be a reward for positive behavior and punishment for negative behavior. I know it sounds harsh and can “hurt you as much as it hurts them,” but ungodly actions require a change of action. When they were tiny, we smacked their hand, and in elementary school, we swatted butts, and in high school, we took away phones and driving privileges. We told them what to do, and when they broke the rules, there were consequences to correct their behavior.
My wife has worked with children in the Church and the community, most of her adult life. She now has a job where she works with teenagers on a full-time basis. She always notes how children will behave differently for her than for their parents or anyone else. That is because she sticks to these three rules in every situation.
We are not perfect parents, but our children have turned out to be well-behaved and Godly young men of whom I am very proud. I know some people out there are struggling every day in their role as a parent. I pray this will help instruct you and encourage you as you walk this difficult journey.