Being a parent is by far the most important job any of us can have. We are not only responsible for the formation of another person, but in forming that person we have a share in shaping the larger world in which we live. This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly which is why I want to share with you what I believe to be the three most important tenets of good parenting.
When I work with clients, I often explain the different views we have of our lives. In the same way that a good photographer will use different lenses to achieve different perspectives, we can do the same thing in our lives. Sometimes we get a better picture using the wide-angle or big picture lens. At other times, we want the close-up view.
When parents come into counseling for parenting advice, they have specific complaints or problems in dealing with their children. It is often the case that they are feeling so overwhelmed in the moment that they have lost sight of the big picture.
I usually spend some time in session reminding parents of their purpose and goals. That is, I bring them back to the big picture. Once parents are back on track with the big picture, I can help them connect it with what is going on in the moment, the little picture. Parenting works best when parents are able to stay connected to the big picture, keeping the little picture in context. Keeping things in context gives parents the knowledge to stay consistent and strong when they need to be and avoid being manipulated by the child.
The three tenets that I am going to share with you build on each other. The first one is a foundation for the second, and the second is a foundation for the third.
Tenet 1: Our Children are on Loan to Us by God
This is the biggest picture, the foundation, and sets the stage for everything else. It means that I do not own my children. They have been entrusted to my love and care by God, our mutual Creator. I have a sacred duty to bring them up so that they come to know God, and live Godly lives. I need to keep in mind that this life is a journey back to God. I need to remember that God, in creating us, desires that we will live with Him eternally in heaven.
This is the major context for our lives. When I am focused on this, life decisions become clear. All decisions need to be made against this backdrop.
Tenet 2: Move from an External Focus of Control to an Internal Focus
This 2nd tenet comes from the fact that human beings must develop from a state of total dependency as babies to become independent, fully functioning adults. We then want to move from an external focus of control to an internal one, which means that we want children to eventually be able to control themselves. Until that time, we must set things up in such a way that we guide them into making appropriate decisions.
Tenet 3: It Makes a Difference whether we make Good Decisions or Bad Decisions
A crucial life lesson that our children need to learn is that good decisions tend to reap good consequences while bad decisions tend to reap bad ones. Without this knowledge everything seems random and up for grabs. This is the chaos that we witness in our world today. People are lost without a moral compass.
These 3 principles for good parenting help to keep the focus on the big picture.
Most of all, good parenting involves leading by good example. As parents, we need to be clear as to our own moral bearings in order to help our children develop theirs. The attitudes, behaviors and character traits we want our children to possess needs to first be seen in our own lives. Our children must witness us living a life called to holiness – of relying on the love, mercy, and grace of God to unite our will to the will of God in directing our thoughts and actions.
“Train up your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not depart from it.”
- Shepherd Me, Oh Lord! - December 9, 2019
- The 3 Most Important Tenets for Good Parenting - September 20, 2018
- Turbocharge Renewed Vitality to Your Life - March 13, 2018
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