Sunday, January 20, 2013

My top 10 parenting tips

So my older sister blogged her parenting tips the other day and that got my youngest sister asking for my take on parenting.  Like I don't offer tips and advice enough as it is...!  But since she's pregnant and asking, I gotta!

Here goes.

1. Find out what works for you as parents and go with it. It doesn't matter who has named it, who endorses it, or even if everyone else hates it. If it works for you, use it.  This goes for bedtimes, teeth brushing, room cleaning... you name it. Just because people that seem to have it all together are doing something one way, if it doesn't help you, don't do it. It might not work for them, they might just be hiding it better.

2. Expect your kids to lie, cheat and steal. Pray that they get caught early in the game. As a teacher of a full generation of students now, I can tell you, that your kid is not perfect. Mine are not perfect. Kids will do whatever they think they can get away with. I highly endorse Love and Logic ( )  parenting. It gives boundaries and choices, but requires parents to be ACTIVE in their kids lives. I like that.

3. Continuing with the Love and Logic theme... give your kids choices so that they can learn to make good choices and feel like they are in control of their lives. Let's be honest, kids don't get to make decisions very often. They are told what to do, when to do it, how to do it and on and on.. so, find ways to get your kid involved and let him/her choose. You would be amazed at how quickly a toddler (or teen) will do what you want them to do if you give them options! If you don't give choices now, how will you expect your young adult to make good choices without you?

4. When your child doesn't do what you want them to do, figure out a punishment that works for your family and make sure that you are not punishing YOURSELF in the process!! I happen to love the timeout for the toy instead of timeout for the kid. For example, if the Barbies are not put away, the Barbies go away.. to time out for a few days. The punishment fits the crime and drama is held to a minimum. What I have found to be interesting is that for example, when the DS is placed in time-out, sometimes weeks will go by before it is remembered and asked for! I love that. I only meant for it to be gone for a couple of days, but there is so much active living that can be done instead that it gets forgotten until a slow day appears!

5. Make memories. My childhood memories are full of games played and things done. I only recall 2 typical family vacations from my childhood, but I remember all kinds of things we did... like playing "monster in the dark",  putting puzzles together, singing songs and helping my dad with his business. It doesn't take money to make a memory. It takes time. To be a good parent you invest time into your child. Nothing can take your place in your child's life.

6. Challenge your child. Doug and I expect a great deal from our kids and our kids are more than capable of this. In fact, outside of school hours, Maddie is taking Latin, clarinet and piano. We don't expect her to be the valedictorian...she could be if she wanted and we pushed, but we aren't. We aren't into pushing, we are into challenging. The difference is that when the parents push, the parents are the motivators and the ones actively working. When we challenge, we present an opportunity, provide the resources and let the child actively work (knowing that failure might be the end result.)

7. Be flexible, but have non-negotiables. Why??.. because if you don't, your children will wear you down and then they will win. More bluntly.. if you let your daughter have a boyfriend at 10, go on a date at 12 and prom at 15 why are you surprised to find out that she is having sex at 17?

8. Define yourself beyond being a parent. Understandably we all get caught up in parenting, but we have to remind ourselves that our worth is not tied to our raising kids. Yes, what we do with and for our children is vitally important, but we are all more than parents. We are individuals with hopes and dreams for ourselves. If we don't, then we are shells. Children need more than a carcass for parents so we need to make ourselves enough of a priority to have hopes and dreams and then work toward them.

9.Talk to your child everyday. Really, I mean LISTEN to your child everyday!! Find time to ask your child how his/her day was at school and then LISTEN to the answer. Ask a followup question. I would say don't multi-task during this time, but some of the very best, most important conversations happen while I am driving or making dinner. I think my girls know that they have my attention, but I can't look at them very often. The key here is that I am not on my phone!

10. Be civic-minded. Teach your children to make a difference in your community by helping in the community. Serve on volunteer boards, deliver meals-on-wheels, pick up trash... do something FOR your community. I am always amazed at how many people are quick to say that they serve in church and do mission work but they don't have time for a quarterly board meeting to help a local organization that makes a difference in the lives of people in their community.

And there you have it. Really, I have soooo much more to say, but I'll stop there.


  1. This is good! Very good! You've helped me out by reminding me not to punish myself in the process of punishing my child. Great advice!!


  2. Thanks for taking time to do this! I really like hearing the different perspectives.