January 17, 2012

Parenting: How to Use Love and Expectations to Empower Your Children

Recently, we have been struggling to make some plans and decisions with our oldest daughter or at least I should say I have. Our oldest daughter is a very bright young lady and is having and will have many opportunities come her way. As a parent I struggle with knowing when to let go a little more of the reigns so that she can live her life, the life that God has designed for her. It is so hard to let go when you have plans for your children, but God’s plans are always GREATER. Yes this website is about marriage, but parenting is a part of marriage because the decisions you make as it relates to your children will ultimately affect your marriage.  On this website, we provide help around marriage and relationship issues from our perspective as coaches and at times from our personal perspective. It is important to us that we are transparent in our journey, because in all that we do, we want to bless someone else.

Children are definitely a gift from God and are given to us for a time to show them the right path. What do you do though when you have a plan for a path and the plans that God has are just slightly different? We as parents are called to guide and direct, but not dictate. Children desire to be given expectations and direction and then allowed to make choices and decisions; this has been one of our philosophies. No they won’t always make the decisions you want them to, but the ability to problem solve in any and all situations is a skill that we all need and frankly a lot of people lack.

Some of our other philosophies on parenting are:

  1. Children want to be empowered and challenged, which is the direct opposite of what people say children want. People think it’s easier to tell children what to do step-by-step, but giving guidance and allowing them to make choices is a lot easier. Empowering your children to be able to make decisions and rise to the expectation that you have set for them makes them want to achieve and rise even more. However, when they do rise to meet your expectation, make sure you give them praise for the effort they have done and point out to them what you see as the expectation and how they met it.
  2. Children want you to recognize and notice when they do well.  Recognize and praise your children when they do well. Go over the top sometimes especially when they have done something above and beyond your expectations.  
  3. Give consequences for behavior that goes against your expectations. Giving consequences looks like many things, but ultimately you want to make sure you are consistent and follow through.  Just as praise helps to shape behavior so do consequences.
  4. Give opportunities to stretch your children beyond what they even believe they are capable of. Allow them to have opportunities from failure because no one wins all the time. If your child is used to always doing a good job, always being praised, what do they have to learn from? We all make mistakes and do things that we wish we hadn’t but those are the things that make us stronger and help us grow.

Parenting is a lot like working on a marriage. Just like a marriage will have struggles and issues, so will your child and the way you parent them. The key in both is to use those struggles to grow instead of letting them destroy you.

  1. Know when to expect more from your child. Get to know them. Talk to them, know when they are capable of doing more and help them to move to that higher expectation. Parenting is like coaching. If you’ve ever played a sport, the coach is the one who hands out the plays and then guides and directs the players to implement the plays. The coach is also the one who can recognize the talent in the players and pushes those players that they believe can handle a little more. Coach your children to be the best they can be.
  2. Love your children no matter what. Whether giving them higher expectations, giving consequences or looking at their decisions, love them through them all. The love that you have for them will cushion any blow or make any triumph sweeter.

Our daughter is definitely a child that I could have never predicted the heights she has accomplished and will accomplish, but I am excited to see the journey. Being her mother has been an awesome responsibility causing me to grow and change in areas that I never thought about so that I could be a better mother to her. Watching her grow has also been a blessing to see how God’s plans for her have unfolded and it is becoming clearer and clearer that we are her guidance, her shepherds, her coaches, her parents, but her life is ultimately in God’s hands. Accepting that and letting go is a hard one, at least for me, because all parents want to shelter their children from hurt and pain, but I can’t always be there to do that. Trusting in God’s plan, having faith even in the uncertainty and thanking Him in advance for the grace, mercy and blessings is what I plan on doing even when it gets difficult. How about you?

Alisha Walker


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