Leading At Home: Parenting With Presence, Fun & Structure

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My wife and I have been attending a six-week parenting class at our church. Even though we’ve been parents for over eleven years, we’ve got a lot to learn.

 

We have three boys and one girl; ages range from eleven to five.

 

It’s a lot. It’s wonderful. It’s challenging. And time slips away like water in your hand.

 

Being a parent is more important than anything you do at the office.

 

To keep that idea going, the following are a few inexpensive ideas to help us in our parenting.

 

Presence

I had the greatest interruption of my adult life on a recent Friday afternoon. One of my best friends showed up at my door unannounced. He lives in Washington D.C. I live in WI.

 

The 40 minutes together were so sweet. We smashed as much as we could in that conversation.

 

Why did it feel like I’d not talk to Troy for another year? I could text or call him anytime.

 

And why was it such an enriching moment in my day? (Outside of not expecting it)

 

He was here. We were together. My very good friend was at my house.

We were focused on the conversation. The only distraction was the limited time we had.

 

As parents, our presence can not be understated. Much like the difference between a text exchange and a friend at your door, our kids need us WITH them.

 

Ideas:

  • Put your phone away
  • Weekly alone time, just you and the child
  • A surprise visit to your kid’s school
    • Take them out a few hours early?

 

Here’s a quote Troy dropped on me during our time together.

“The essence of parenting is presence.”

-Kevin Vanhooser

 

Fun

Kids must see their parents laugh, be silly and enjoy simple games. One of the main reasons I believe this is that fun aids in building relationships.

 

It communicates something words sometimes can’t. Fun knits conversations together and becomes a pattern of interaction.

 

As parents, we know it’s not all fun and games. It’s a ton of correction, guidance, and discipline.

 

Relationship precedes effective discipline.

 

Ideas:

  • Dinner time, play the question card game
  • BirthDATE = special night
    • Monthly
    • The date is of the child’s birthDAY
    • Stay up later, eat something sweet, watch a movie, play a game
  • Mini “Yes Day”
    • I am not advocating for an all out yes day like the movie...that’s cra cra
    • Dollar amount, timeframe, parameters
  • Family movie night!
    • Weekly/monthly
    • Rotate who gets to pick  


Structure

The creativity of your child will not be damaged by you setting boundaries.

 

Mary Shelly--words and ideas to produce Frankenstein.

Jackson Pollak--paint and a canvas to produce paintings.

Stevie Wonder-- notes, time signatures, and instruments to produce music.

Christopher Nolan--180 minutes or less to convey an epic story.

 

I’m oversimplifying to make a point.

These creators all have restrictions. The rules of their craft don’t dampen their creativity.

 

The rules of your family don’t have to damage your child's creativity.

One functional way to look at boundaries for our kids is to establish routines.

 

Routines give comfort to children because they know what to expect. And they know what’s expected of them.

I’m not saying routines will spark creativity. My point is that structure/boundaries/restrictions/routines don’t have to result in impeding creativity.

 

Ideas:

  •  “Books before breakfast.”
    • My buddy Ryan does this with his kids
    • No TV, video games, or toys before breakfast
    • It doesn't mean they MUST read before breakfast
  • Bedtime
    • Starts at *enter specific time*
    • Read, sing a song, ask one animal question, say a prayer...etc.
  • Celebrating Saturday
    • Doughnuts, chocolate chip pancakes, or some other goodness
    • Mom gets to sleep in; coffee and breakfast brought to her by the kids
    • Pajamas all-day

 

Take what you like, leave what you don’t.

 

Soak up the kid years; they’ll be gone before the work years are.


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