Parenting techniques that are effective in today’s culture to help your kids see just how much you love them
Parenthood - Why being imperfect is a good thing
I have always been so hard on myself as a mother. It's good in a way because I know that I won't ever let myself settle for what my child deserves, but it’s also bad because I lay awake some nights wishing I had reacted differently, and then obsess about how guilty I feel.
Holding yourself accountable is good. Not forgiving yourself is bad. We all make mistakes, and the more we can admit to ourselves and our children that we are, in fact, not perfect, the better.
“Modeling perfection is the worst thing you could do as a parent.”
God doesn't hold you, I, or anyone to a standard of perfection, so neither should you. If you can start integrating this mindset, you will begin to have more grace for yourself, your children, your spouse, and that old neighbor lady who gives you just one look and causes you to start judging yourself. Remembering that others, as well as yourself, make mistakes and fall short of perfection.
Being transparent in our humanity can actually help your child feel more loved, which as a parent is our ULTIMATE GOAL - for our children to feel loved.
These are my personal opinions on matters of childrearing, but it doesn't mean I'm always right! First and foremost, you should figure out what is best for you and your children. These are just some ideas on what I have experienced as a mother, and ways that have worked for us.
5 ways to be a great parent and speak your child’s love language
1. First things first. Admit you were wrong or that you made a mistake and ask for forgiveness.
Back to that quote about modeling perfection. How can I expect to show my child that God loves him in spite of his mistakes if I can't even admit that I make mistakes? It is so important that your child sees you aren't perfect. It will make them feel understood, loved, and want to model your example of admission of wrong and asking for forgiveness.
In my opinion, asking forgiveness is just as crucial as saying you're sorry. It guides them to take action on their part as well and forgive. If we don't teach them how to forgive, then we aren't doing our job in preparing them not to hold grudges, which in turn will hinder them in all kinds of ways. You want them to also admit their own wrongs in their life, not only to you, but their friends, teachers, and down the road, their spouse.
2. From the moment they are born, listen to their hearts.
What do I mean when I say listen to their hearts? I mean, do your absolute best to in making sure they know you are listening to them, not only with your ears, but with your responses.
It's so easy to go off to Never Mommy Land and start drifting into your happy cloud (that glass of wine you get to have later while watching This is Us) as your child is telling you for the hundredth time that he knows what ten times ten is. Again, give yourself grace if you screw up, but if you have to, admit you were wrong and apologize.
My son knows when I'm not listening and his response is always, "Mommy, you don't care what I'm saying!" It breaks my heart, and I snap back into the reality that he just wants my love, attention, and for me to be proud of the fact that he does, in fact, know how to do math.
Here are few tips within my tips on how to better listen their spongey little hearts.
Acknowledge that they are talking by engaging in the conversation and not asking rhetorical questions.
Even if their interests don't interest you, it doesn't mean you get a pass to disengage.
Ask them how they feel, whether they are having a good day, or if they need anything from you. Just show that you care.
If they don't feel like talking, don't force them, but bring it up again later, when they are up for sharing.
Don't only engage with them on things you want to talk about, or with questions that you ask. Look for those precious moments when they start talking and sharing with you all on there own and treat it like it's the greatest treasure in the world.
Pray for them and see if they want to pray as well. There is nothing more special than our prayer times before bed or before heading to school.
Ask them what is going on in their hearts. Start referring to their feelings as their hearts. "What does your heart feel right now?" or "Is your heart having a hard time obeying?" When they associate their feelings with they're hearts, they can begin to understand to start protecting their heart's by not letting it become bitter or holding onto things that will ultimately scar them.
Teach them to forgive, even if it isn't asked for. I will never forget the moment I picked my son up from school, and he told me what he had learned that day. He said, "I learned today that if someone hurts you, then it leaves a mark on your heart. If you don't get the mark off by forgiving even if they don't ask for it, it will just keep hurting you." My heart exploded. What a great thing to understand about forgiveness. It was a moment when I needed to apply that to my own life as well.
Make sure they know just how much God loves them, by modeling His love for them. They are at an age where they don't quite understand the concept of love. They need you to guide them and show them what love is. Be so very careful with this privilege. It is so easy for your children to associate your love with God's love. So, if it's not good, then their relationship with God will be affected. All you have to do is love God yourself and make sure they know it while letting them come to you and open up to you about their relationship with God. Forcing them to talk about God will only push them away. Ultimately it has to be their decision to want to have a relationship with Him in the first place. If they don't, then that's their decision to make. But when they are little ones, you have the upper hand in showing them that a relationship with God isn't a burden, but a blessing. Don't make them feel like it's a chore or something they have to do.
3. Make being home for them feel safe, peaceful, and fun.
This one is probably the hardest for me, and that's also very hard to admit. It's hard because life happens. I get busy, so I put off one on one play time. I get in arguments with my husband, and that most likely doesn't feel peaceful to them. I put cleaning the house before engaging with my son. That's definitely no fun for them.
I go through seasons of depression which ultimately affects my son negatively. You name it. Life gets in the way of making him feel safe, peaceful, and cared for. Again, have grace for yourself and tomorrow is always another day to do better.
How to make you home a safe haven for your children
Work diligently at your relationship with your spouse. The best thing you can do for you kids is to have a healthy relationship. Avoid arguments in front of your children. I know, that's hard to do, but do your best.
If you have an addiction, a depression problem, are abusive, or are in an abusive relationship, then get help! Your problems WILL become your kid's problems, and they will start thinking that they need to fix your problems. Don't be selfish. I had to learn this the hard way. I struggle with depression, and the moment I realized it was affecting my family in a very negative way, was the moment I got a counselor and the help I needed. I woke up to this when my son started consoling me as I was crying my eyes out. NOT the responsibility of a 5-year-old. I'm not talking about a bad day now and then, but if it becomes a way of life, then that's where something needs to change. Whatever you're going through, you aren't alone, and there is always someone willing to help.
Make it fun - I want to do my very best in making my son feel like he can have fun at home as well as out and about. Plan different activities for the week. Go to a movie, go to the park, or on a nature walk. Play dates are good. Build something together, like a fort. Make little movies on your phone. Have a movie and popcorn night. When it comes to running errands with your kids, be creative and let them pick out a treat at the grocery store, or have a reward waiting when they get home if they can be patient. Make them apart of your life in a good way. Just remember, part of life is learning to wait, which means your kids need to learn this as well. I've always found that if I spend quality time with my son before getting my stuff done, it shows him that I put him first.
My son has told me before that it makes him have a bad day if I have a bad day. You can't always avoid bad days, but also do your best to separate the two. If need be, have someone watch your kiddos that day and take time for yourself. Also, don't feel guilty if you have them watch movies during that time if there is no one to watch them.
4. Put God first, husband second, and kids third.
There are so many people who put their kids first, but let me explain why this will go all wrong if implemented in your life. If your relationships with God and your husband aren't at the right place, then your kids will suffer. Nurturing your relationship with God will ultimately help you, which will, in turn, help them.
At the same time, if your relationship with your spouse isn’t healthy, your children will notice, and it WILL affect them negatively.
5. Last but not least. Remember that YOU’RE THE PARENT.
I'm the softy in the family, so it's hard for me to see my son struggle. I want him to be happy at all times. But sometimes making them "happy" isn't always the best. Your kids have no idea what is right and wrong. They need direction. If you don't give them direction and run wild on choice, they will end up ruling the roost. If you give them no choice at all, they will grow up and possibly resent you.
Let's have a balance, shall we? I have erred on the side of choice too often, and it has now has me in a difficult position. My son knows how to manipulate me, but when it comes to my husband, no way. It's frustrating because I've noticed that when my husband asks him to do something, he does it, most of the time. If I do, it's like asking a gorilla to attend my tea party. Yet, even though my husband is more disciplinary, my son still adores him.
When you discipline your kids, it doesn't make they will hate you. No, it makes them respect and obey you, which will ultimately make life just better all around for everyone. What discipline looks like is up to you, obviously, as long as it's not abuse. Knowing your kid well will help you understand what method works best.