I was scared out of my mind. My wife and I had just had our first child and the feelings of panic were already welling up inside of us. Driving home from the hospital with our first child felt like a scene from a movie. We kept looking in the back seat and saying two things:
- It’s Alive!!! (kudos to old Frankenstein movies)
- What have we done?
That was the beginning of the journey and it has been a real journey. We now have one in college and the other who will graduate from High School next year. We have a strong relationship
with our children and they bring a ton of joy to our life. Parenting has not always been easy and many times I was really just faking it and trying to act like I knew what I was doing. I read a ton of books and asked lots of people questions. Those things, plus lots of prayer and trial and error, we are brought us to where we are today. As I reflect back on the journey, there were a few key areas we made our focus and I think those areas could help many young parents today.
1. Be excited with them
- Our kids are not little versions of us. Too often parents try to “fix” the mistakes of their life through their kids, or try to live vicariously through them.
- Learn to celebrate who your children are and be excited about what they are excited about. It may be music and you are a sports person, or it could be dress up imaginary games and you have stuff to do that is “important.”
- Become a student of your child. Remember how much you changed as you grew as a child, they are going through that same kind of change daily. Make learning them and keeping up with their areas of interest a priority.
- When you are excited about what excites them when they are young, they will connect with you even if what they are excited about changes and it will! The point is never about what thing or activity your children are into, the point is they are into it WITH YOU!
The point is never about what thing or activity your children are into, the point is they are into it WITH YOU!
2. Make Security the focus
- Security for any child begins with the love they feel and see with their parents. When you show them unconditional love they can understand your love and God’s love.
- Security comes from parents who are secure in who they are as a person. Are you always trying to “live up” to another ideal? Do you make what others think of you the main focus of your life? Insecure parents will raise insecure children. You must deal with your issues so they don’t become issues for your children. This is hard, but no one said parenting is easy
- Your contentment and joy cannot be based on your child. Show your child that you are a whole person apart from them and it will help them realize that they are not the center of the universe. If your purpose in life is wrapped up in your child, they will grow up thinking everyone else in the world is there for them.
We will continue this next week, but for now here are a few questions to ask yourself as a parent:
- Are you learning your child, or just surviving the daily grind?
- How secure are you as a person?
These questions will help start having the right focus as a parent.