The Toughest Job You'll Ever Have

Wanted: A "Perfect" Parent. Someone to love a child twenty-four ours a day. Should be an effective disciplinarian who can teach obedience and at the same time be kind, considerate, fun-loving, flexible, energetic, enthusiastic, and responsible. Must be a good listener and be willing to say "I'm sorry." Valid driver's license recommended. Salary: None. Please apply immediately. Your child needs you.

Do You Qualify?

Parenting is the most important job you’ll ever have. And the toughest. You may not be perfect. But you can qualify if you know the answers to these three questions:

1. How can you always love a child even when the child doesn’t deserve it?

2. How can you teach a child to obey without resorting to punishment?

3. How can you resolve conflict, so everyone feels like a winner?

How to always Love a Child

The key to loving your child is to picture that child as an empty cup that needs to be filled Love fills the empty cup. Attention fills it. Punishment empties the cup.

If a child feels unloved or empty, he will seek to fill himself with attention. Most children discover that negative behavior gets attention more quickly than positive behavior. The problem is that parents often react by punishing a child for misbehavior. And this ends up emptying the child’s love cup even more.

Instead of immediately punishing that “empty” child, we should first give him positive attention. Fill his cup to overflowing. A child can be loving only if he is so full he has enough love to give away. A child who feels sure he’s loved is better able to learn from discipline. So we won’t have to resort to harsh punishment to get our message across.

How can you always love your child? By filling your child with lots of love and positive attention. And keeping it filled with hugs and kisses. Speaking kind words. Doing fun things together. Respecting individual needs.

How to Teach Obedience

We must make it easy for our children to obey—and we have to start early. Here are some simple steps to take. Get your child’s attention. Make a reasonable, simple, and clear request. Then immediately move to see that your request is followed. For example, it’s time to eat. You ask a small child to come to the table. At the same time walk over and take his hand and lead him to the table. Don’t nag. Just make sure the child understands you mean what you say. Expect obedience, and the chances are much greater that you’ll get it!

How can you teach obedience? Just ask your child to do one thing at a time and then make sure you follow through.

How to Resolve Conflict

Conflict can mushroom or be defused with words. We must show we understand our child’s position. The key is to listen to the feelings behind the words. And we mustn’t be afraid to express our own feelings.

Cultivate the use of “feeling” statements. If your child is doing something that irritates you, tell him, “I feel irritated when you…” If the child is angry and screams, “I hate you!” don’t argue. He is asking that his feelings be recognized. Say, “You feel angry at me when I…” Instead of causing more conflict, the child has to agree with you. “Yes, I’m angry.” This defuses the conflict and makes it easier to find a successful solution.

How can you defuse conflict? Listen to feelings.

Becoming the Perfect Parent

You can qualify the “Perfect Parenting” job if you can answer the previous three questions---and put the answers into practice. When you forget, be sure to say, “I’m sorry,” and try again. Remember, a perfect parent is not one who never makes a mistake, but one who makes the same mistake less and less.

For a deeper investigation of the topic of parenting, read “Becoming a Successful Parent,” a vital part of the Winning Series of Friendship tracts.

Copyright © 1996, Published for NAD Church Ministries Department

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