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Thriving Families w/ Coach Michele Johnson- Parent/Child Development Specialist

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Parenting: Is There a Blueprint?

Michele Johnson
ASBC Parent Coach

We are focusing on parents for the month of March. March has been identified as Parent Awareness month, International Parent Awareness Week is March 11-17 and National Single Parents Day is March 21.

Parenting is a journey that lasts a lifetime. Families are the most important institution, the most important resource in a child’s life. As parents our role is essential in shaping the well- being of our children. Every parent wants to be a good parent and I am sure you have asked yourself many times, what is the blueprint for being a parent? How am I supposed to do this? Today, there are so many parenting books available, and I am actually in the process of writing one myself. There are conversations, debates about what is the best parenting style and people sharing how to be a good parent. As Christians there is really only one blueprint for how to live our lives and this blueprint includes how to parent our children. The blueprint is the Bible. Before I jump into how the Bible tells us how to parent, let’s define parenting.

What does it mean to be a parent? Multiple dictionaries definitions of parenting agree on these elements:

  • The process of raising a child from birth to independent adulthood
  • Facilitating the upbringing of a child through all stages of development
  • Caring and nurturing a child
  • Fulfilling the parental responsibilities that accompany child raising
  • The act of caring for a child
  • Establishing a healthy environment as the child grows- taking actions to ensure social development and education that aligns with your values
  • Adjusting to the changing needs of a child as they grow and develop

The American Psychological Association defines three primary goals of parenting:

  • Keeping children healthy and safe
  • Preparing children for independent adulthood
  • Teaching values that align with the parents’ culture

Did you know the Bible has so many references, (one source says 1,900), that mention parents, fathers, and mothers. These references are in dozens of stories about families. Some are encouraging and some show very complicated family dynamics. Yes, the Bible has narratives of families who went through some of the same things you faced in your family and as a parent. The Bible also offers us guidance for how to navigate this parenting journey. The Bible expresses roles, realities and responsibilities of parents. Jesus shares with us the principles He asks of us as followers and these apply to parenting also. We should follow God’s example of what it means to love His children. Here are some specific ways the Bible asks parents to “disciple” their children.

  • Be intentional – we must be strategic in parenting. One of Franklin Covey’s Habits of Mind is to begin with the end in mind. We know we want to raise children who love Jesus and we want children who become adults who demonstrate the Fruits of the Spirit. (Prov. 22:6, Galatians 5:22-23)
  • Recognize children as a gift and blessing from God. (Psalm 127:3)
  • Help children love and live Jesus. (Ephesians 6:4)
  • Teach your children to delight in the Word by teaching them the Word. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
  • Tell your children the remarkable things God has done. (Psalm 78:4)
  • Parent your children in the right direction. (Prov. 22:6)
  • Model how to live for your children. (Titus 2:7)
  • Take care of your children’s needs. (1Tim. 5:8)
  • Discipline – disciple your children like Jesus did His Disciples with the Fruit of the Spiri.t (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • Maintain harmony and stability in your home. (Proverbs 11:29, Colossians 3:21)
  • Provide financially for your children. (2Cor. 12:14)
  • Aim to see your children become mature Christians. (3 John 1:4)
  • Pay attention to your walk with Jesus. (Deuteronomy 4:9)

Parenting and Mental Health

According to the CDC, the mental health of children is connected to parent’s mental health. Parents are the first source of support in children becoming independent and leading healthy and successful lives. Fathers, mothers and other caregivers who have the role of parent, need support, which in turn, can help them support their children’s mental health.

Parenting is a joy AND at some point you will feel overwhelmed and stressed. According to Dr. Bhutia, medical director of the adolescent and behavior health unit at Multi-care Tacoma General Hospital, “In order for our children to flourish parents should not neglect their own mental health.” Lowering your stress levels fosters connections that nurture you and your family.

Strategies for Parents to Support Their Mental Health

1. Take a few minutes to yourself every day. Caring for yourself just a few minutes a day is key to supporting your well-being across your lifespan. You will hear people say, fill your cup so you can pour out to others. I disagree, you need to make sure your cup is overflowing, so that when you pour out to others you have some left for yourself. If you fill and empty every day, it can be exhausting, your cup should overflow. Incorporating self-care activities every day benefit you and your child.

2. Pause and check in with yourself every day. Self-reflection can help you better understand areas that are going well and areas that need attention so you know what you need to thrive.

3. Ask for help. It is so hard for many of us to ask for help. Allow others to help you before you get so overwhelmed, you are struggling to cope every day and you find yourself yelling all the time or angry all the time. Help comes in many forms, reach out to people in your family, friends, community. If things become really difficult for you, seek professional help through parent coaching and therapy.

4. Take off the super hero cape. You can’t do it all, it is impossible to do everything. Do not overcommit yourself or your children. Model what it means to set limits for yourself and your children. No is a complete sentence. Say no to some things, take them off your plate.

5. Quality time – spend meaningful time with your family every day. Quality time means being fully present no matter what you are doing. Show up and be in the moment. “There should be at least one touch point in a day when you give your children your undivided attention…this touch point lays the groundwork for openness and good communication as they grow.” (Dr. Bhutia) Decide what these touch points look like in your home with your family.

6. It is not personal. Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the “Four Agreements”, suggests we make four agreements with ourselves, one of the agreements is do not take it personal. This is an important agreement every parent should make with themselves. Understanding when your child is behaving in a way that is upsetting, you don’t understand, seems disrespectful, know it is not personal. All behavior is a message, it is a representation of an unmet need. We all have some basic needs; the need for autonomy, acceptance, attention, appreciation, affection and connection. Please remember your child is not giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time. Children have difficulty expressing these needs and it shows up in their behavior. It is not personal.

Parenting is one of God’s most important callings. It is our responsibility is to shepherd the children God has given us. We are to trust God’s power to help us raise godly young men and women who love him with all their heart and soul. Parenting does not come with a manual, there will be a lot of trial and error as you figure out what works best for you and your child. The Bible gives us a blueprint for how to parent like Jesus.

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NOTE: due to an overwhelming response, counseling requests are being wait-listed and answered in order received.  Contacting your insurance provider, employer provided employee assistance program team or EAP team or larger platforms like Better Help or Thrive works may be a better option for an immediate request.