As I’ve mentioned before, there are 3 Things Every Kid Needs.
But there are three more things every kid needs, too. These three other things can help make the difference in how your kids turn out. Remember, parenting isn’t just about what happens today, in the now, but parenting about what you want your kids to become, in the future. This is parenting with the end in mind.
Those three other things? Here they are:
Kids Need Other Adults Who Can Speak Into Their Lives. While you might be the biggest influence on your child’s life, you aren’t (and can’t be) the only one. Smart parents will help choose who those people are, instead of leaving it just to chance, or to your kids (who will choose celebrities, movie stars, singers, and the like).
Find some great adults who can speak into your kids lives about the stuff you can’t or aren’t able to. These people can be coaches or directors, church leaders or mentors. They can be the mechanic who works on your car, or the neighbor who has that amazing yard. Find quality, well-respected, mature, good people, and help your kids connect to them. Church, school, neighborhood, sports field, neighborhood theatre. They can be found everywhere. They can encourage and cheer on your kids in ways that you never can. Your kids will have other influences–why not be intentional about who those influences are?
Kids Need Experiences More Than Things. We place a high value on things in our culture. Having what is new, owning what is now–it’s very important. Trouble is, things don’t last. That great new TV you just bought has already been made obsolete. Your phone is out of date, and you’re still in a contract for two more years. And don’t even talk about that computer. Sure, you will probably hold on to your house for a long time, but the furniture in it–it’s already dated, right?
It’s not new to hear that memories are the only things you can hold on to, but it’s true. If you have a house full of all the newest and nicest things, but never spend your money creating memories, you’re teaching your kids the wrong thing. Possessions come and go, but memories last forever. The National Parks I visited with my family growing up? The road trips I’ve taken my kids on? Those are shared experiences that we will never forget. I don’t even remember the color of the last two couches I had. Things are great, but they don’t last. Doing things with your kids and creating memories together? That lasts forever.
Kids Need Grace. Your children hear all the time about how they’ve messed up, how they don’t measure up, where they have gone wrong. As parents, it is our job to correct and train our children to make wise choices as they grow up. But when they don’t, what is the response? Parents, disappointed in their own failures, often maximize or blow out of proportion a child’s failure. I know–the response I’ve given to my youngest son over his lack of appetite when my wife has made an amazing dinner far outweighs the actual circumstance.
But what do I want most when I screw up? I want grace. And yet, I can’t show grace to a kid who thinks anything with green in it is poison? You get it–if we want to have grace-filled children, who are quick to forgive, slow to anger, and generally awesome, we need to be grace-filled parents. When your kids gets a less than perfect report card, it’s fine to have consequences–but measure them with grace. When your child spills that glass of wine all over the carpet, remember the grace you received for a much greater slight. When kids see grace lived out, they will live out grace as well.