By Jeff Borders
Parenting is easy.
Said no one ever in the history of the world.
I know that intro probably seems like clickbait. Well it is, and I’ve got your attention now.
I recently read a Facebook post from a friend talking about raising her children. If I might quote her, “The hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do is raise good humans…If we can at least teach them three things, we think they will be successful, contributing members of society. Those three things are: a good work ethic, a respectful attitude, and kindness. Sounds simple, but it’s hard to just teach character traits and attitudes, you must also model them. This is very difficult! Especially in a world that doesn’t always value those traits.”
My friend Trea’s words resonated within me, and I knew the next thing I wanted to write about. I think there are a few things that we can do as parents, to help our children become the adults we as a society need them to be. By no means am I an expert, in fact I’m positive that I’m still in the apprentice phase of parenting. But I do know where my resources are, so I went to my readers to ask what advice they would give. Here are just a few.
- Work it out. Be the example of good work ethic. Spend time together working and serving others. Teach them to get their hands dirty and know what a hard work looks like. It is often during this work, some of the greatest and deepest conversations happen and tight family bonds are formed.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Show them respect by how you treat your spouse and them. Whether you realize it or not, they are watching your every move. The tone and vocabulary you use in the home, will largely be mimicked in the outside world. You are setting the stage for their adulthood.
- Apply mercy liberally. Childhood is filled with mistakes. It is a time of great learning, and often great heartache from the learning process. While children must be held accountable for their actions, let us remember that grace and mercy go a long way in any relationship to strengthen bonds. Make your home a safe space where your children can fail, as well as a place of learning from those failures.
- Hug it out. Embarrass your children endless gushy text messages telling them you love them and are proud of them. Give them giant hugs, especially when their friends are watching. Spencer W. Kimball once asked, “How long has it been since you took your children, whatever their size, in your arms and told them that you love them and are glad that they can be yours forever?” Make sure there is no doubt that they know that you love them.
- Admit when you are wrong. I’ve never met a perfect parent. You can build trust with your kids by admitting when you are wrong and asking for their forgiveness. I know our pride gets in the way of this a lot of the time, because we are the parent, and we should always be right. But the truth is, sometimes were not. We are doing are best, and sometimes me get it wrong.
- Put down the phone and talk to them. Too often we find ourselves not actively listening when our children are talking to us. We need to find time without distraction to talk with them. Ask them how there day was. Talk about what they are interested in, even if it is the most boring subject to you. And don’t shy away from the hard conversations.
- Stop giving them everything. We need to eliminate the notion that we need to give our children everything they want, or we are failing as parents. It’s a fallacy that leads to entitlement and it must be stopped. Teaching them the difference between wants and needs will help them later in life. Thomas Paine once said, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem to lightly.” Life never gives you everything you want, so why should we give it to our children. They need to learn the value of struggle.
There is so much good advice out there, and let’s be honest, you could raise two kids the same exact way and they could turn out completely different. There is not a one size fits all instruction manual for parenting. I wish there was. By and large it is trial and error, because like me, most of us are still novices at this parenting thing. However, by implanting certain ideals, morals and ethics early in life, give our children the greatest chance for success in the future.
David O. McKay once said, “The Father of all mankind expects parents, as his representatives, to assist him in shaping and guiding human lives and immortal souls. That is the highest assignment which the Lord can bestow upon man.”
That is a huge weight upon our shoulders and one we shouldn’t shirk. But I think we are up to the task. What do we have to lose by applying some of these principles? The worst that will happen is that will end up with a world filled with responsible and respectful adults.