Parenting At the Speed of Life

An excerpt from the "Nut House: Parenting In Sanity" series

Family life can get a little crazy. Any parent can tell you that. In fact, if you’re a mom or a dad and you haven’t considered checking yourself into the Nut House on an occasion or two, you simply haven’t been in long enough.

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Maybe you’re like me: you’re doing the best you can, but the crazy stress of raising littles just keeps showing up at the speed of life.

My kids are like yours. They’re growing up really fast. The clock is spinning quickly and I’m constantly grasping for strategies to stabilize my parenting. But the goal of parenting isn’t to help my kids grow up. They’ll do that whether I want them to or not. The goal is to help them mature before they grow up.

Ever met an adult who grew up but never matured? Maybe you married him. But our lives as parents are at their most influential when we help our children grow mature, solid lives.

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us how short our lives really are so that we may be wise.”

Life’s moving fast. There’s no changing that. But if we can appreciate the brevity of our lives, and approach God for help, we can parent at the speed of life with wisdom.

Here’s five key steps we can take to build mature children before they grow up:

[1] SHOW THEM HOW TO PRIORITIZE OTHER PEOPLE.

Ask any two-year old what his or her favorite word is. Better yet, try to take little Johnny’s favorite toy. He will give it to you without asking. “MINE!”

Left to their own devices, children will grow up thinking the world revolves around them, rather than selflessly and joyfully revolving around others. Great parents awaken this essential perspective in their kids.

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)

[2] TEACH THEM THE PRINCIPLES OF HARD WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY.

This one’s in short supply nowadays. Sometimes, parents—out of a misplaced sense of love and care—over-nurture their children to the point that they are ill-prepared to make their own way in the world. Save your kids the wounds of immaturity and teach them the principles of hard work and responsibility.

[3] LEAD THEM TO RELATIONSHIPS THEY CAN LOOK UP TO.

Your child will need more positive input in their life than just you. And smart parents lead their children to strategic, significant influences they can look up to. Great parents don’t assume their kids will pick it up by osmosis somewhere along the line. They don’t just cross their fingers and hope their kids choose good friends. Great parents inject themselves into those choices and lead their kids to life-giving relationships.

Who are you partnering with? Who’s coaching your kids in sports? What college young person is hanging out with your young person? What youth or children’s program is supporting you in parenting at the speed of life? Because as influential as you are as a parent, you need strategic partners to help grow your child into a mature person before they grow up.

[4] CHALLENGE THEM TO DECISIONS DRIVEN BY HIGH-CALIBER CHARACTER, NOT HIGH-OCTANE EMOTION.

We live in a society dominated by high-octane emotion. Entire industries are built around it. That’s why car dealerships even exist.

Only truly rare people make decisions driven by high-caliber character. What’s the right thing to do? What’s the wise thing to do? What’s honorable in this situation? It’s the step that asks, “What do I truly value—regardless of the sacrifice?” and makes decisions from there.

That kind of value system actually protects our kids from harm.

“May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.” (Psalm 25:21)

[5] MODEL THE VALUE OF GRACE AND GRATITUDE.

If you’re child never values grace, they’re doomed to be a judgmental, critical person. If they never embrace the value of gratitude, they will become an entitled brat. And you and I both know plenty of adults who grew into judgmental, critical brats without every maturing into something better.

Your kids don’t need everything they want in order to live a great life. In fact, if you could give them everything, you’d ruin them in the process. They need to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them. But that if they will mature in the value of grace and gratitude, they can revolve around it with a profound joy that the world will marvel at and be drawn toward.

 

What do you think? Drop some knowledge on us with a comment.