I’m a 30-year-old dad. I have two kids, 4 and 6. I’m a rookie father, with very little skin in the game. My parenting strategies seem to change daily, if not hourly.
All that to say, I have zero clue as to what I’m actually doing.
Although I’ve spent the last 6 years stumbling my way through fatherhood, I’ve seen a few things work better than others.
Here are the 3 best parenting strategies I’ve learned, so far:
1. 'Play' Is the love-language of Children
We have access to literally millions of pieces of parenting information at our fingertips. This is both a blessing and a curse. With one press of a button, Siri will give me the latest food recipes and discipline techniques, all contained within one article.
Frankly, it’s overwhelming.
The truth is, my kids don’t need me to memorize the best parenting practices. They need my love and attention.
Kids aren’t complicated. They want you.
As a parent, don’t over-complicate things. If you want to connect with your children, simply play with them. Throw a ball. Act like a dinosaur. Explore your backyard. Paint a picture.
The love-language of children is play.
Of course, parenting is hard, but we don’t need to over-complicate things. Set the books down and go act like a 5-year-old with your child.
2. Parent their heart, not their behavior
One of the biggest traps I constantly fall into as a parent is trying to manage the behavior of my children. I deal with the symptoms instead of the root problem- their heart.
Our kids are just like us, they don’t have behavior issues, they have heart issues.
“For out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks” Luke 6:45
Behavior always exposes what is going on within your child’s heart.
In our house, when our kids misbehave, we’ve made it a practice to ask “what is going on in your heart?” We want our children to recognize that their heart is what is causing them to behave a certain way. Our hope is that as they begin to understand the brokenness within them, they will one day surrender their life to the One who offers them a new heart.
Don’t parent the symptoms, parent the source. Parent the heart.
To read more about parenting the heart, pick up Paul Tripp’s book “Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family”
3. Boredom is ok
Remember growing up as a kid and being bored out of your mind? Some of my greatest childhood moments came as a result of me being bored and having to use my imagination.
Our generation of millennials are the first generation to be “cured” from boredom. Most of us spent half of our childhood bored to tears until the internet came along. It was the first time we could access the whole world at any given time (unless your mom was on the phone. #dialupproblems) We literally spent half of our childhood experiencing boredom, and the second half stimulated to death by a computer screen.
Our kids have no idea what it means to be bored. And the truth is, we don’t help.
In our “fear of missing out” culture (FOMO), we pack our kids’ schedules full from the moment they wake up to the time they (and we) pass out at night.
We are addicted to busy.
As a young dad, I’m learning that it’s ok for my kids to be bored. In fact, it almost brings me joy when I hear them say that dreaded “B” word.
Boredom is one of the best secret ingredients of creativity.
It’s ok to put some rain boots on your kids and tell them to go explore in the backyard for a few hours. Heck, even let them drink out of the garden hose.