We had a wonderful couple come and share with our small group last night about parenting as Christians. They had so many INCREDIBLE words of wisdom for all of us who are in the beginning stages of raising tiny humans. Their three children are all grown, and they have beautiful relationships with each of them. They shared so much, and I want to hold on to all of it!! Here are some of the key things that really stuck out to me:
- It is never to early to discuss the tough topics. It may go over their heads, but that's ok! It's better to go over their heads than for them to not be prepared for tough situations. (i.e. sex, lying, stealing, bad movies, etc.)
- It is ok to be different than your friends in your parenting style. Even some of your best friends may have differing opinions on things as children grow older, and it is important to stand firm in your own convictions on how to parent your children. (i.e. what age to give a cell phone, facebook accounts, buying cars, how to celebrate holidays, punishment, scheduling time on weekends, choosing friends, etc.)
- Parent your child's heart, not their behaviors. So many times, parents tend to focus on the child's behavior instead of looking deeper to the state of their heart that caused the behavior. Instead of just doling out punishment, sit and talk with your child (even at a young age) about why they did what they did, then explain the punishment to the child before it is given. This will allow the child to be able to recognize the need for change instead of leading them to rebel against authority.
- Get to know their friends. Pour into their lives and offer support where support is needed.
- Always make it clear how much you love them. period. no matter what.
- Give them grace; give yourself grace. You will make mistakes. Your child will make mistakes. There is enough grace for all of you! It's amazing how willing your child's heart is to forgive your mistakes if you humble yourself and ask for their forgiveness. This also teaches them that it is ok to admit mistakes of their own.
- Develop a family "mission statement". What does it mean to be a SHARP?! Remind your children to remember their last name: what they stand for and who they represent. This will teach them to take pride in their family and it's values, and it will give them a clear compass by which to make decisions in the tough moments of life.
There was SOOO much more that they shared, but these are the big ones!! Austin and I discussed last night, once we got home, what we want for it to mean to be a Sharp. We are currently working on our mission statement. I encourage you all to develop your own. I think it might change the way we function as families!