I’ve found it. After years of looking for the perfect way to teach our kids the most important things in life, I believe I’ve found it. It’s not totally foolproof, as our kids still have their own decisions to ultimately make (that’s it’s own blog post). However, the secret for parenting with some semblance of authority on the things we want from our kids is this:
Do what you are asking them to do.
Internet Safety. Want your kids to make great decisions when it comes to the Internet? Then put the same guardrails in place for them that you live with. The exact same. It’s not near as strange for my kids to have me look through their email accounts, when they know my wife has the same rights to my email account.
Accountability to where I am. Want your kids to let you know where they are at all times? Then remind them that somebody always knows where I am. I don’t disappear for hours at a time, I live accountable to my job and to my wife.
Responsibility to work. I want them to work hard, so I make sure my kids see that I leave for work on time, and work hard while I’m there. Side note: I also show them healthy working habits.
Healthy relationships. In my house, this is communicated by letting my kids see the importance of our personal community group. These are the 4 other couples that we meet with every week throughout the year. It’s priority to have the right kinds of friends, so I demonstrate this in front of my kids.
Asking forgiveness. This is easy. I mess up enough that this gets demonstrated often in front of my kids. The secret lays in consistency and learning from my mistakes.
It really goes on and on and on and on…
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. – James Baldwin