Does your job require travel? If so, how often do you travel and for how long? Do you enjoy or dread the experience? A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual Missouri Basketball Coaches Association basketball clinic. Being a high school teacher and coach I don’t travel out-of-town for work much.
I was excited to get out-of-town for a day and a half and just be by myself. I don’t like being away from my wife and kids, but I think it can be a very good thing. Afterall, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I find it makes me appreciate more the things I take for granted, such as: your kid asking for the one last extra kiss before bedtime, kissing my wife before bed and hearing her say “I love you”, hearing my boys play and laugh together,or helping them put the “jammies” on after the 20th request to do so. I find going out-of-town recharges your battery and provides gratitude for all your blessings.
Driving home after the clinic I thought about my sons and how my wife and are trying to raise them. I reflected back on the things we’ve read, listened to, and learned about raising children within the past year. I’d like to share them with you and get your feedback.
Pick the right friends for your kids. As parents we have control over who our kids play with. We also have control over the adults we associate with and their level of involvement with our kids. If we want our child to be a 10, we can’t be hanging around two’s. Associating with parents who have the same values as us is key. It’s okay to not be friends with everyone. There’s nothing wrong with having acquaintances, because we must choose our inner circles wisely. Kids are extremely observant and as parents we want our friends to model and reinforce what we believe. It’s safe to say if the parent models the behavior and values you desire, the kids will too. As the saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall from the tree.”
Practice what you preach. I’ll be the first to admit I fall short here at times. I don’t want my kids to react with anger, but yet I find myself having a short fuse or letting my emotions get the best of me at times. When this happens, I try to tell my sons that I’m sorry and I was wrong to react that way. I ask them to forgive me and tell them that I love them. It’s crucial to remember our kids watch and model our example. Practicing what we preach is far more impactful than preaching what to do. We must act the way we want our children to act. It’s the best teaching method a parent can use.
Don’t be their best friend, be their parent. Our pastor delivered this message a few month’s back. Your child doesn’t need a best friend, they need a parent. Now, don’t get me wrong, my boys and I are “buddies” and we do a ton of stuff together. But, they know I am their dad first. And I have to be. I can’t wait to be their best friend when they’re adults, but for now I need to provide the parental discipline needed to raise successful young men. And trust me, it’s a challenge. An exhausting one at times. But is it worth it? You bet. Additionally, your spouse should be your best friend. I know my wife is mine. If we spend more time being best friends with our kids it will not only harm our relationship with them, but with our spouses as well.
Encourage them. Be the biggest encourager your child has. Be their number one cheerleader. Once school starts they have enough people telling them they can’t do it this way, this isn’t right, or it must be done this way. Encourage your child’s creativity and uniqueness. Embrace the fact that they are “not like everyone else.” Encourage them to ask questions. Once a child learns to stop asking questions they lose their creativity. Each child is wired differently, and I think we as parents discourage our children from following their true dreams and goals because of our desire to fit in. We don’t want to have the “weird” kid. Who cares? The world has enough sheep in it, encourage your child to take their own path to greatness.
Pay your child to read books. This was another message our pastor shared and is one I am implementing. Why pay our children for chores? It’s nice to teach responsibility, but think of how much more we’re teaching when we pay them to read. We teach them a love for learning, and that is the best gift we can give our kids. Kids who love to read are more successful as adults than the non-readers. If we can instill this value at a young age we open so many more doors for our children. Leaders are readers.
Listen, I am by far no expert on parenting. I’m just trying to figure it out everyone else. But I trust and believe in these concepts, along with the people I’ve learned them from.
I’d like to make this a recurring theme on “The Pivot.” What are some other topics regarding parenting you’d like to me to discuss?
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.