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We have three grown kids, one grandson, and one grandchild on the way. We love all of our kids and they love us. As I reflect over my parenting years, I’d give myself a solid “B+” in the parenting department. But, I also would have parented differently in several ways. In a recent family service at our church, I shared these four things I wish I could do over as a parent. As you read them, ask which might apply to your parenting style.
If I could re-do my parenting, this is what I would have done differently.
1. I would have not gotten so uptight when surprises came.
I’m sometimes guilty of catastrophizing. That is, assuming a worst case scenario, an “it’s the end of the world” mentality. Sometimes I did this when one of my kids blew it. And when I responded that way, I would turn the entire emotional tone of our family negative. It’s a phenomenon called emotional contagion. Leaders, dads, and influential people set the emotional tone of those around them, in either good or bad ways.
2. I would have dealt with my own insecurities.
I was insecure as a young dad. To bolster my self-confidence I would sometimes try to control my kids’ behavior in an overbearing way. It was a blind spot. Back then I wish I had invited someone wiser into my life on a regular basis to help me deal with my own junk … a counselor, a coach, or a mentor.
3. I would have been less driven to fix things and “doing,” and more focused on process and “being.”
I’m a problem solver and that’s a good quality. But with relationships with our kids, sometimes it’s not the best solution. Sometimes when they face difficulties they simply need our presence, for us to simply be with them. This goes against our cultural push to be human doings rather than human beings. So, when something in my kids’ lives needed fixing, I wish I had simply offered my presence rather than my solutions.
4. I wish I had asked a lot more questions to make my kids think more for themselves.
This idea relates to number three above. Sometimes we should not fix things even though we clearly see what needs to be fixed. Sometimes the best thing a leader can do, whether in a church or a family or a business, is to ask questions so that the other person comes up with his or her solution. When that happens, the other person owns it better. As an example in parenting, let’s say your child clearly disobeyed you on an issue. Perhaps part of discovering what the consequence should be would be to ask your child, “So, if you were in my shoes what would you do? What consequence would you give if you were the parent?” Such dialogue could have helped my kids think more for themselves at an earlier age.
What kinds of things would you do over as a parent?