5 critical parenting traits to cultivate

by | Parenting with Courage


Parent with empathyParenting can be tricky at the best of times. My kids didn’t come with a self-help manual, but along with way, I realized that parenting is an art form.  It’s not a science, and every family is different.

There are, however, five critical parenting traits that you can cultivate to assist you on your journey of raising the next generation for success.

1. These parents don’t mind making mistakes

Parents are merely imperfect, loving moms and dads.  Parents make mistakes.  Kids make mistakes, and that’s ok.  The real issue is what do we do once we realize we have messed up?  Be quick to say you are sorry, sort things out with your child and extend forgiveness, then teach your children to do the same.

At a school recently, I noticed posters all over the communal area declaring:  “Go ahead and make mistakes.”  “Own your mistakes, own your successes.”  I wish my high school encouraged me to mistakes all those years back.  If we can release a generation that isn’t afraid of making mistakes, and they learn from them, then I think that they could be fearless. Encourage your children not to be scared of making a mistake, but reinforce learning along the way.

2. They are able to love with empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  When we parent our children with love and understanding, we are able to put yourself in their shoes and love them in the way they need to be loved.  Sometimes we forget what it was like to be 9 years-old or a pubescent teenager.  The high-school years can be rough on a person.  Take a moment or two and remember your own struggles as a child or teen.  Count to 5, take a breath and then respond to your child.  When you love with empathy, you allow room for the relationship to grow.

Empathetic parenting goes a long way toward understanding your child from when they are little. This skill can be cultivated, and this is especially needed as you parent them through their teens years.

3. Parents create healthy and appropriate boundaries.

The world functions on healthy boundaries.  If it were not so, the tides would flood our coastal towns, or the sun would burn 24/7.  Night and day are perfect examples of rhythms and boundaries.  So too, should a family live with healthy and appropriate boundaries.  These could include regular meal-times together, perhaps online limits or digital sunsets.

John Townsend says that in healthy development, your children, especially your teens, “will develop self-control and responsibility to the extent that their parents have healthy boundaries.” Over time, as your child experiences external structure, you give them something that they cannot provide for themselves. The result of this process is that your child will transition from external structures towards internalizing them as she grows older. For example, you would feed your toddler healthy, nutritious food so that she can learn what is good for her to eat and grow.  When she gets older, then she will realize that certain food types are better for her than others.

4. Parents who know and understand the power of consistency bring stability to the home.

Consistency is one of hardest things for parents to maintain.  It takes time and energy, but it’s definitely worth it.  As a family, decide what your values are and how you want to raise your children.  Then, take it from there.  If you live consistently out of your values, then this will helps you make better decisions for your family.

In my book, Parenting with Courage, I explain that consistency brings stability and freedom. In James 1:17 we read about the consistency of God.  “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” This gives us hope, that as we follow His example, we can be consistent in our parenting. The rules in our home shouldn’t be more strict or less strict because you’re tired, or frustrated. In our homes, the laws shouldn’t be more lenient because you’re having a good day. Being consistent with your rules, values, limits, and consequences establishes a good foundation on which to build the family.

5 Cultivate the skill of not taking life so seriously.

Life can be like a rollercoaster ride. Cultivate the skill of really enjoying your children. One of my friends helps the aging process how they lived when they are on their deathbeds. One of the most common reflections is that they shouldn’t have taken life so seriously. Laughter produces endorphins – the happy hormones – and everyone benefits when laughter rings out in the home.

Let love and a long-term view lead you as try these four skills out.  I’d love to hear from you so please email me at hello@mandihart.net or leave a comment below.

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