I’m going to start this off by saying that I don’t currently have children. For some of you, you’ll immediately click away and think, “How can she tell me how to raise my child when she doesn’t have one?” And I certainly wouldn’t tell you exactly how to raise your child. However, I remember being a child and I was a very observant child. I watched other kids and their parents, and I saw what happened when they graduated high school and even now, how they treat their parents. So, there are some things I learned that you don’t need to have kids to know.
However, the most important part of this post is how vital it is to discuss with your husband how you want to raise your kids. You need to be on the same page. How should you handle certain situations? What punishments do you think are acceptable? Make sure you stand united so that if one parent says no, the other says no as well. Your kids need that consistency. But, here are a few other things I learned from observing parents and their children throughout my 30 years of life.
My parents made sure to not model hypocrisy before me. If they told me to do something, they made sure they were doing it as well. For example, my parents told me I needed to have a quiet time with the Lord every day. I watched them and saw that they had a quiet time, so I realized that I should do the same. If, however, I saw them never spending time with God, I probably wouldn’t have done so either. As parents, you need to remember that your children will do what they see, not what you say. (Monkey see, monkey do)
Of course, you won’t be perfect and my parents weren’t either. There were times when they told me to do something and I’d say, “But you don’t do that.” Thankfully, though, my parents would realize that what I was saying was true and instead of getting angry, they’d apologize and we’d talk about it. They weren’t afraid to admit when they were wrong, and that’s important for your child. They need to know that you are human and you make mistakes, and that’s okay because they’ll make mistakes too. Trust me, they’ll respect you more for coming clean and being honest than they will if you pretend like you’re perfect and everything you say is true and they should just obey you without question. Children don’t respect that and they definitely won’t respect you in future when they are adults.
All children need rules and boundaries, but we need to be careful not to go to one of two extremes.
I’ve seen both these extremes when I was growing up and the results it had on the child at the time and after the child left their parent’s house in the future.
The first extreme is to have too many rules. These parents have a rule for everything, don’t allow their child any freedom, and usually, if the child questions the rule the parent replies, “Because I said so.” The reason this doesn’t work is that no one wants to be completely controlled by someone else. When you do this, your child is going to rebel, I can guarantee it. Many times they don’t even respect you, instead, they either fear you or resent you, or a little of both. Yes, your child may obey you (or they may rebel), but once they leave your home 9/10 times they will go completely wild, break every rule you ever put on them, and rarely will they remain close to you. Meaning, you probably won’t see much of your child ever again because they see you as controlling and sometimes even cruel.
The other extreme is to not have any rules, or very few rules, because you want to be your child’s “friend.” These parents rarely have rules at all but let their child do whatever they want in hopes that the child will see their parent as a “friend” and want to spend time with them. They also rarely punish or don’t punish consistently. This never works either. When you do this, your child doesn’t respect you, and if you try to implement a rule later (like in their teen years) when you didn’t make them behave when they were children, they won’t listen to you nor obey you. When they grow up this child will almost always stay distant from you because they don’t respect you and see you as weak. If they have problems in life, they will almost always blame you for them and resent you for not taking care of them the way a parent should.
That’s why it is so important for parents to find a happy middle ground. Children need boundaries, teens need boundaries, but they also need some freedom to make choices, even wrong ones. Protect your child as much as you can, teach them how God wants them to live, but then let them make their own choices. It’s hard, very hard, because many times you can see that the path they’re on will only cause them pain. But sometimes we have to learn the hard way if we’re going to learn at all. One more important thing to remember is that you cannot control your child. The only control we have in life is over ourselves (our thoughts and actions). We can’t really control another human being because they have free will. Only God has complete control and we need to trust Him first and put our children in His hands.
One of the most important aspects of being a parent is that you and your husband’s beliefs are the same. If your husband isn’t saved, keep praying for him and modeling a godly lifestyle in front of him. But, if you are both saved, make sure that you agree on what to teach your child about your faith and how they should live, and again, don’t be hypocrites. If you want your child to live a certain way, you must live that way first.
Take it all to God. Ask Him to make you a better mom. Ask Him, as my mom did, to help you see through your child’s eyes so you can understand why they do what they do and you’ll know how to handle situations. God is the greatest Father in the universe, so He’s the perfect one to ask for help.
You’ll never be perfect as a parent and you have to accept that, but you can try your best, trust God, and above all else, love your child unconditionally. That is how we need to raise our children.