As a parent of four, it’s very easy for me to spend a vast amount of my time cleaning up, watching out for, correcting, disciplining, planning, talking with, doing homework, entertaining, or resting from my kids. Over time, and sadly over a lot of wasted time, I’ve begun to realize how certain aspects of parenting are becoming more and more valuable to me. I’ve also realized how easily overwhelmed I can become by the vast amount of information that I simply don’t know, or know how to apply. My hope in this series of posts is to help simplify some fundamental parenting skills, so that you might be able to relax and actually enjoy parenthood (crazy idea, but every once in a while it is possible!)
To begin, I want to borrow from an old AA adage: It’s about progress, not perfection.
If your goal is to get it right all of the time every time, then I’m afraid you’ll most likely spend a lot of time disappointed. However, if your goal is to seek out how to love your child well in the best way you know how, then I think you’ll have a better shot at enjoying the process (not to mention your kids as well!)
For starters, I’d like to introduce the framework for these posts on parenting. A majority of this information can be attributed to Dr. Bill Richardson’s book ‘Loving Obedience.’ One way to think about the needs of our kids is to consider an analogy of a tomato plant. A tomato plant needs a few simple things, such as water, light and nutrient rich soil. To go without any of these essentials will find the plant starved, weak and frail, and yet if it has these needs met it can grow into a plant which produces great fruit. However, if you let that plant grow tall without the support of a trellis, chances are it might fall over, dropping it’s fruit to the ground to be spoiled, and yet if the trellis is too constrictive, the plant won’t be able to produce much fruit at all. Simply put, children need both love and discipline in appropriate measures in order to grow into ‘fruit’ producing adults.
We’ll take each of these in turn, but first I’d like to reemphasize the foundational principle that I am putting forth for healthy parenting- It’s not about getting everything right all of the time every time, but about seeking to love your child consistently in the best way you know how. Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection.
-By Branden Henry