This post is a primer of sorts, adapted from notes I took from my pastor, Joel Gregory, from a message entitled, “The 12 Steps to Parenting” in October 2011 (I had to make the blog title fit the A to Z Challenge!). The points are his, but the commentary is mine except where noted. (Note: These are in a random order- not necessarily in order of most importance.)
1 – Make sure your children are taught to respect authority. You have to model this yourself as well–it’s not just for the kiddies. You like to run every yellow light you encounter, talk back to cops, and speak to other adults in authority in a rude or impatient manner, it doesn’t matter what you tell your kids to do in school. They will learn from your behavior more than your words. “Be careful to be respectful even when you’ve done right and authority seems to be wrong. [In such cases,] God will deal with that authoritative figure.”
2- Don’t spare the rod. Spanking is something I grew up with. I didn’t get a lot of spankings, but the few times my parents chose to spank or smack me, I deserved. I wasn’t scarred for life. However, if you don’t want to use your hands to discipline your children, I get it. I stopped using my hands on my daughter a long time ago because I focused less on discipline with her and more on relationship. The disclaimer my pastor gave for “Don’t spare the rod” was this: “A spanking should hurt long enough to leave a mark on their conscience–not their body. Don’t use your hands to hit or spank your child, and do not embarrass your child.” Correction should come from non-physical forms of discipline whenever possible.
3- Communicate and have fun with your children often. “Don’t let correction be the only voice they hear.” (My comments were covered in #2.)
4- Don’t let your children constantly complain. We live in an age where kids today have more, faster, and better than ever before. Whether it’s toys or technology, they are spoiled! Americans are spoiled period. For all its faults, we still have so many rights and freedoms that generations before us didn’t have (and I say this not only as an American but an African American). The Civil Rights era ended shortly before I was born. I grieved when I visited Memphis last year and took in the site of MLK’s passing. No matter what trying circumstances you are dealing with, never forget that there is ALWAYS someone in this world–maybe even in your neighborhood–that’s worse off than you.
5- Teach your children to forgive. (Originally: “Don’t allow your children to be bitter.”) In dealing with other human beings, our lives have the potential to become stagnant if we let disappointments, setbacks and betrayals from others (or ourselves) fester into bitterness. We have to learn how to let things go.
6- Choose their schools wisely. My pastor and his wife have their children enrolled in private school and talked about the financial sacrifice. I homeschool by myself and incurred a financial sacrifice as well as time, but it’s worth it.
7- Protect your children’s associations. You (and your kids) are very likely to become just like the type of people they spend the most time with. Keep them busy with activities that will keep them out of trouble.
8- Monitor what they see and hear. I’ve talked about the critical media literacy role that parents play regarding what kinds of games, music, movies, and magazines their children are exposed to or have access to. We have to teach kids how to think for themselves and learn social responsibility.
9- Cover them with prayer. For many years, I have blessed my daughter every night at bedtime with a verse out of Numbers 6, of all books of the Bible. We can’t be with our kids 24/7, but God is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. Following this one step will help you with all the preceding 8 steps.
Do you agree? What do you think is missing from this list?