Any parent who has joyfully welcomed a baby into their family knows the feeling of excitement and love that comes with seeing their child for the very first time. The wonder of the miracle, the feelings of gratitude that the babe has finally arrived, and the ideas of what their personality may be-will they be like mom or dad?- are thoughts flooding through parents as they feel the love wash over them. What a beautiful time! A new life is beginning with anticipation of joy, love, and happy memories.
Then the baby grows into childhood and adolescence and the parents realize they don’t know as much as they thought. Now what? Many parenting techniques are tried. Some work, some don’t. Parents wrestle with their own feelings of inadequacy and wonder how to get their child to obey, be kind and respectful, do their homework, and everything else that is expected. It gets tiring. In fact, I felt helpless trying to solve all the problems we encountered in everyday family life. At this point, I began to use the Rope of Good Intention to manipulate and control my children to do what I wanted them to do in order for me to be happy (but strangely, I wasn’t…) and for my children to be perfect (and they weren’t….). I learned the hard way that the Rope of Good Intention is not a grand solution to parenting dilemmas.
How do we inspire our children to do the things that we see are best for them?
Evaluate your intentions. Make sure the reasons you want to guide them in a certain direction are in their best interest as well as the family’s. Be honest about why you want your child to behave a certain way or participate in a specific activity. If you want your daughter to love dance because you loved it and it’s good for a girl’s growth and development-but your daughter has no talent or desire to dance (that was me but fortunately, my parents weren’t into dance either), then maybe the whole dancing idea could be scrapped. Is it worth the blood, sweat, tears, and money to make her do it? Or is there something else that would be better? Do some exploring and find an activity that she will enjoy as she works to accomplish goals and build character. Evaluate your intentions for the path you’ve chosen for your child. As you do, there will be times you feel a deep inner knowing that your child should be directed down a certain path, but your child is not interested. Then what? How do you get them to do those things without the Rope of Good Intention?
Model: Children copy what their parents do. Little ones, especially, are learning about their world and relationships through doing what they see others around them do. Children take on the attitudes of the adults around them, so it’s important that we are aware of the direction we are leading them just by our everyday example. Be the kind of person you want them to be.
Create a Culture: In our family, education and learning is very important. For many years we homeschooled and for several years, all of our school aged children were in public school. Now we have a combination of both. Fortunately, the era we all live in gives us many options. Regardless of how we have chosen to educate our children, our goal is to create a love of learning culture in our home. It was a little more difficult with our children in school, because we spent hours with them every night doing homework, and that created a bit of a hate of learning rather than a love of learning. In order to continue our family culture of love of learning, we read aloud to our children and found ways to engage them in learning things together that our children were interested in. It works. Our children are eager to learn. In developing a family culture, what is important to you? Some families have a culture of music. That was the home I grew up in, and although I am not as innately talented as my sisters at playing instruments or singing, I do enjoy what I’ve learned and am grateful for that training. In some families, athletics are important. That was my husband’s family. All kinds of wonderful life lessons were learned
through their family culture of participating in sports. Create a culture of the things that are important that you want your children to experience with you. A love of learning will be a fabulous foundation for anything else you want to build upon in your family culture.
Inspire: When you feel there is something important for your child to learn, find a way to inspire him. Find people who are excelling in that area, and if you know someone local, invite them for an evening in your home to share about it. Find stories of people in history who were a great example of what you want your child to learn. Watch video clips, learn more about it yourself, and be enthusiastic in sharing what you are learning-not in a way that you want to force them to join you, but in a way that’s loving and invites them to join you in learning and exploring it. There are many ways to do this, and you, as a parent, have the ability to inspire your child. Give it a try!
All in all, in order to lead our children, we get to go first. We get to go first with love, modeling the good example, creating a family culture, and inspiring our children by our own excitement and love for life. Let yourself lead with love and your children will follow.
(Click Here for more ways to let go of the Rope of Good Intention)
What is the most helpful parenting advice that you’ve ever received?