It’s normal to feel anxiety as a parent and wonder if you are giving your kids what they need as responsible parents.
Recently, I sat down with a group of moms and we talked, laughed, and caught up on each other’s lives. We also whined about laundry and tiresome dinner routines and the challenging ways of parenting.
One mom shared what a typical day serving her family looked like: Preparing breakfast every morning, packing healthy lunches, cleaning up her kids rooms, folding laundry and she usually waved off their help in cleaning up after dinner.
Her list was long and admirable. She was a great mom. “Serving is my gift to them. I do for them because I love them.”
There was a lot of head nodding.
“I’m not behind on laundry because I don’t do it for my kids. I don’t wake them for school or make their lunches and everyone pitches in for dinner cleanup,” another mom piped up. “I don’t clean their rooms and I require them to give more than they take.”
We all looked at her -some in shock, others in deep respect. Parenting looks different for every family and I love that in community we can talk about what we’re doing–not for comparison, but for consideration. I want to learn and challenge myself because parenting is hard and I don’t always get it right.
She continued, “I figure I am raising men. One day they will lead a household and work hard to provide for their families. There is a time for me to serve them and a place for me to teach them to be servants. I want to do both.”
Slow clap across the room.
There’s nothing wrong with a parent serving their family: it’s a calling, an honor and a responsibility. But maybe, at some point, giving them too much, is actually teaching them how to be great receivers and lazy givers?
What Is Responsible Parenting?
Responsible parenting isn’t just giving kids what they want, it’s also teaching them how to meet their own needs.
A parent’s job is to teach children right from wrong, teach them the meaning of life, and keep their children safe. In doing this, parents will have to make decisions that kids do not understand.
Family physician and author, Leonard Sax, “A parent’s job is to teach children right from wrong, teach them the meaning of life and keep their children safe. In doing that job, you’re going to do a lot of things a child won’t approve of and not understand,” he said. Sometimes, you have to be the bad guy.”
According to Sax, parents should focus on helping children develop skills such as self-control, humility, and conscientiousness, meaning they think of people other than themselves.
Those things are the biggest predictors of future success in adulthood, he said, not education or affluence.
10 Ways You Can Raise Kids Responsibly
1. Parents tell kids no because they can see what children cannot.
Parents have the gift of wisdom and maturity. They can see so much further down the road than kids can. Parents know that giving in on some things will teach them to give up on others. Kids thrive on the here and now and lean on their parents to look ahead and guide them
2. Sometimes it’s okay to be unhappy.
Culture has elevated happiness as the ultimate goal in life. But being happy every moment of every day is unlikely. Parents understand this fact better than anyone. Allowing children temporary unhappiness is okay. It is ultimately teaching them that life will have unhappy moments. Responsible parents allow kids to feel this short-term sting of this truth because they understand the big picture.
3. Discipline is a part of life.
When parents follow through on rules they’ve established and consequences they’ve laid out, they are teaching kids to respect authority, laws, teachers, and bosses outside of their homes. If parents constantly let kids off the hook, they are inadvertently teaching them they can do whatever they want and it will work out fine.
4. Unconditional love is a big part of parenting.
Even in the midst of discipline, parents want kids to feel loved—it is the reason behind discipline. Offering forgiveness, love, and tenderness in these moments speaks to a child’s heart. Actions are a product of the heart. A parent’s goal is to get to the heart behind the action—why did my child disobey or act out?
5. It’s not a parent’s job to fix all their children’s problems.
Loving parents do not like to see their kids struggling. There’s a part of every parent that longs to make things right in their child’s world. But it’s not healthy to create a false reality. Parents will not always be there to do so. If parents constantly rush to avoid problems for their kids, children are being robbed of the opportunity to problem-solve on their own. Fixing all their problems is really only creating more challenges in the future.
6. It’s okay to ask kids to work hard
Doing extra nice things for kids is a joy for parents. But children will often begin to expect it. Parents don’t have to give their kids everything they want. It’s okay to make them wait for things in life. It’s also responsible parenting to provide ways for our children to work hard and earn extra things they would like to have. When parents require kids to participate, they are teaching their children the cause and effect of hard work and its rewards.
7. Parents cannot be governed by guilt.
Often parents give in to their kid’s requests out of guilt. Parents foster the attitude of entitlement when they are ruled by a guilty conscience. For example, if a child loses something, it’s okay to ask them to be responsible for the item and to require consequences for actions.
8. Parents should teach kids that life isn’t always easy.
Parents often have an opportunity to make things easier for their kids. Parents could oversee and even finish their kid’s homework; they could not ask for help with dinner. Parents could give kids money instead of making them work for it.
They could rush to their children’s side every time they forget something and fix their problems so they don’t struggle. But it’s a parent’s job to prepare their kids for life and the future. Parents don’t know what life or the future will bring their kids; life won’t always be easy.
There will probably be heartache and struggle and pain mixed with joy, achievement, and uncertainty and parents will not be able to protect their kids from all of it.
9. Failure is a part of a child’s ultimate success.
“Some parents don’t wish their kids to fail. I admit I want my children to. I want them to fail, so they can learn how to get back up. I want them to not get every gift they want on their Christmas list, so they can appreciate what they have and work for what they don’t.
Lastly, I hope all of them get at least one or two teachers they hate. That way they will learn that in the real world, they will have to work with people (and bosses) they may not like,” an anonymous teacher said.
10. Teach Kids God is with them.
Parents can teach their kids God’s order. He set into motion cause and effect from the beginning of time. He protects his children so He can provide for them. There is order and when people go against it, there are consequences.
Parents have an ultimate responsibility to raise children who understand this truth and to teach their kids that no matter their choices, God loves them and is with them.
Choosing to Be a Responsible Parent Isn’t Easy
It’s courageous. It’s much easier to go with the flow, give in to demands and give kids everything they want. But deciding to stand firm, love them well, and teach them life lessons will raise kids who become responsible adults.
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