I'm Pam, and I'm glad you're here. I hope my thoughts on family, faith, and the flux of life help you laugh, fire you up or just make you think.

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revisiting parenting principles

For the new year, I find it helpful to revisit key principles of parenting, faith and other things.  Here’s a post I wrote in the beginning of my blog about parenting:

togetherI lead workshops for parents to build communication and relationship skills.  I do this not because I’m a perfect parent (far from it), but because it helps me keep working toward getting better each day.  I also believe discussing ideas in community helps everyone concerned.  For this post, I quickly brainstormed my top ten parenting principles.  Please, look it over, and tell me how it fits with yours.

  1. Empathy is everything.  Understanding is the key.  It’s our best hope to diminish power struggles.  If our children don’t think we understand them, or don’t even care to understand them, there’s no basis to build a respectful relationship.  And family is all about relationships. 
  2. Consistency counts.  Kids will play the odds just like the slots in a casino.  If there’s a small chance they’ll beat the odds, they’ll keep playing.   If our routines and responses are predictable, they’ll adjust their behavior to meet those routines. 
  3. Some limits are required.  Our children look to us for direction and guidance.  They test our limits to understand the world.  We provide structure and security in their chaotic lives.  Our limits can be moveable, flexible, and reasonable, but they must provide some guidance. 
  4. Effective encouragement works wonders.  It sounds obvious, but I’ve learned this the hard way.   Most of us were raised that more praise = more confidence.  Not necessarily.  Effective feedback builds confidence through evidence and appreciation.  I might have to do another post on this one–it’s proven very powerful for me and my kids!
  5. Grace is available to all.  Children make mistakes.  Parents make mistakes.  It’s a far greater lesson to admit a mistake, forgive it, and learn from it than to hide or deny it.  We need to model this for ourselves, our partners and our children. 
  6. Accountability is learned through consequences.  To be responsible citizens of the world, children need to understand the consequences of their actions.  As parents, we help make those consequences more clear to our children.  Letting reasonable, related consequences teach—rather than laying on the lecture—is powerful.  They don’t need to be severe or painful, but just teach a lesson.  Positive consequences teach too.   
  7. Optimism breeds optimism (and happiness).   Positive thinking and finding opportunities in every challenge make for a happier person, whether you call it optimism, the attraction principle, positive thinking, hope or faith.  We need to teach our kids the essential skill of authentic, positive thinking. 
  8. Love ‘em no matter what.  No matter what.  It goes with grace.  Some days are harder than others, and we set limits and implement consequences, but we love ‘em no matter what.  And in order for that to happen. . .
  9. Grasping handsEvery parent needs relief.      Every.   One.     Whether single or married, paid or unpaid, parenting is a joyful, rewarding, relentless, twenty-four hour, seven days a week job with out a vacation or sick days.  Every parent needs a safety net and relief on a regular basis.  No judgment.  Just relief.  And in order for that to happen. . .
  10. We need each other.   To quote a cliche, it takes a village.  No parent (or doctor, or therapist) has all the answers.  We parent better in community.  We need to stop judging one another and start supporting. 

So let’s get started!   Did I hit upon your top ten?  Or How would your list be different from mine?

Visit Rocks in My Dryer for other great Works for Me ideas.

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10 comments to revisiting parenting principles

  • Great list. I feel that we are one of the first generations to understand what family really means. My parents don’t understand that family is primarily about relationship. They think we are obligated to be around each other since we are related, and obligation doesn’t lead to relationship. I agree, we need community for so many reasons.

    Audra Krell’s last blog post..Fireflies in December

  • Hello! I found you through Rocks in my Dryer. The list is powerful! Thank you for sharing. The only one I’d add to my list is prayer and daily Bible reading, for parents and kids. It keeps things in perspective and helps me get through the day. Thanks again.

  • I love this list! So true, and it sums things up so well. I especially liked the point about “consistency counts”. Amen! I can’t think of a time when I’ve been inconsistent with with my kids when I haven’t lived to regret it. They are little radars for inconsistency, hypocrisy, and unfairness. And they’ll remember that you let them break that rule about the ice cream before dinner six months from now, and remind you about it in front of dinner guests when you least expect it ;o) I agree about the prayer, too…if we don’t teach them what we believe, the world will do it for us!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, I loved “seeing” you there and your nice comment!

    Erica Hale’s last blog post..Living it out, part one

  • Very nice list. I especially like the part about connecting with your neighbors and community. To borrow the cliche, it really does “take a village.” When my son was in early grade school, I was lucky enough to connect with a great group of moms — both SAHM and working moms — who were active in my son’s parochial school. That support network was invaluable for years, and was lots of fun for kids and moms. We are friends to this day, even though our kids are in their early twenties.

    Today, I notice a lot of younger moms connecting more with other moms online — which is great too — but I don’t believe that Internet friendships can hold a candle to the deep connection of “real life” friends in one’s community.

    Cindy La Ferle’s last blog post..Getting unstuck

  • Thank you for sharing this. All very good reminders. It’s easy to get sidetracked and rush through the day without thinking about the things that matter and being deliberate about parenting.

    Blue Castle’s last blog post..Cowboy Boots + Plaster Of Paris = Bookends

  • I wish I had these when I first became a parent. Unfortunately, I had to learn as I went. And go.

    Your first principle? The most important, I’ve found, and the one all the others revolve around.

    Billy Coffey’s last blog post..In The Boat

  • Optimism breeds optimism. That’s the one I’m going to take into my evening. And hopefully beyond. : )

    L.L. Barkat’s last blog post..RAP: Found in the Outdoor Journal IV

  • GREAT LIST!!!!! These principles not only work wonders with little guys but also with older ones. I have two older children-one teenager and one 21 year old. My favorite principle is ‘love em no matter what.’
    Peace and Blessings…

    hope42day’s last blog post..Show Me Your Wallet

  • Another great post, lady!

    There’s a little something for you at the EO. :)

    Heather of the EO’s last blog post..From the mouth of Miles

  • EXCELLENT! I love this list. I love number 5, admit, forgive and learn rather than hide or deny. That is a wonderful way to put it. As a matter of fact I will talk to my children about this for our next family night. Love it. Thank you!

    LisAway’s last blog post..The Best Worst Sound

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