Being a parent is no easy task. Every day we’re challenged with an onslaught of kid-questions, spills, messes and urgent decisions. It’s enough to make a sane person crazy, but it’s also an incredible blast. I mean, who else gets to lead a tiny army of adorable people into the world, right? With that in mind, here are some parenting tips to make sure you keep it together and help your kids grow in grace. Consider this your parenting gut-check for the day.
1. Stay Calm
Don’t freak out. As a parent, it’s so easy to blow things up. Someone spills orange juice and we turn it into a national crisis. Chill out. Things are rarely as bad as they seem. There are exceptions, but they don’t happen every day and they never have to do with orange juice or carpet.
2. Don’t Argue About Stupid Stuff
Stick to the point. I don’t know how many times I’ve argued with my kids about little details like who said what and forgot all about the big lesson I’m trying to teach them. Don’t lose the big picture in the minutia.
3. Remember the Rule of Relationships
When your kids are young you can force them to get in the car seat and eat their veggies (well, kinda). When they’re older you need to parent by relationship. If you don’t build a relationship with them when they’re young—you will have no influence when they’re older and bigger than you.
4. Be Crazy
This is simple but it’s amazing how often we miss this parenting gem. Do something crazy and silly with your kids. Try a dance party, karaoke, crazy board games or just serenade them in the car. Your kids need to see the fun you. Don’t save your fun side for your 20-year high school reunion. Those people don’t care about you anymore. It’s the little people in the car seats that count now. Impress them.
5. Invade Their Privacy
Yep, you read that right. I mean, I’m sure there’s a point when you can stop meddling in their drawers (not a good idea when they’re married), but in our house everything is free game. Why? Because I want to protect them and have the conversations—in the open—that need to happen around the dangers of porn, bullying, purity and social media. We make this clear upfront so it’s never a surprise.
6. Be Thankful
Gratitude spills over to others. If you build a culture of thanks and humility in your house—it will make a huge difference. Be thankful for the sunrise, your job, food on the table, your beat up car, music, hugs, grass on bare feet. Don’t underestimate the power of thankfulness for small things (see Ann Voskamp’s amazing book 1,000 Gifts). The reverse of this is also true. If you’re entitled then your kids will likely be the same. Don’t raise mini-jerks.
7. Say I’m Sorry
When you blow it, don’t hesitate to go back to your kids and tell them you were wrong—and the EXACT reason why. This could be the best way to model humility, authenticity and forgiveness—by letting them forgive you.
8. Step Away From the Device
You kids need to see more than the back of your phone. One of my friends has a phone bag on his door and when anyone comes in his house they have to leave their phones in the bag. This may sound extreme, but it definitely models the value of relationships over technology.
9. Love Your Church
Whatever you do, don’t make church about keeping the rules and walking the line. Why do we think so many kids turn away from church when they’re grown? Maybe it’s because we forget that church is a party about forgiveness and not a punishment for wayward sinners. If you love your church—and the people—that will spill over to your kids. Period.
10. Parent With the Gospel
Your kids need discipline, but they also need grace. Make sure and take every opportunity to remind them of who they were created to be and their deep need for a Savior. If your parenting is always about behavior, you lose. Make your parenting about the Gospel and God’s stunning grace for his kids.