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Being a Parent & Raising Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

~ Kahlil Gibran from On Children
  1. Support your child’s exploration of their identity. Your child’s identity may not fit into traditional gender or sexuality categories, and that’s okay. Encourage them to explore and discover who they are and support them throughout the process. Remember, your love and acceptance can make all the difference. Listen to your child without judgment or assumptions. If your child is questioning their gender or sexuality, listening to them without making assumptions or judgment is important. Allow them to express themselves in a safe space and try to understand their perspective without imposing your own views. This can help them feel heard and validated.
  2. Create a safe and accepting environment for your child. Your child’s emotional well-being is crucial. So, create a safe and accepting environment where they can be themselves without fear of judgment or discrimination.
  3. Teach your children to think for themselves and not just follow what you say. Every child deserves the chance to develop their own opinions and make their own decisions. So, encourage them to think independently and form their own ideas. By doing so, they’ll develop critical thinking skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
  4. Celebrate their small wins and achievements. Encourage them when they fail and help them to find the lesson in it (versus a trophy). Praise honest effort.
  5. Expect your kids to do well, and always express to them that you expect them to do something worthwhile with their life.
  6. Let go of the guilt of becoming the man your father envisioned, and instead, strive to be the man you’d want your son to emulate. This shift will illuminate your true convictions, desires, and goals, inspiring you to reach your highest potential.
  7. Figure out what your kids want, what their passion is, what they are good at, and what makes them happy. Allow their gift to reveal itself…then support it. Tell them how proud you are of them for succeeding in their chosen path. Tell them again and again until you are sure they believe it.
  8. Do not spank your child. It is a sign that you might be a lazy parent (or even that your child is smarter than you) if you must result to violence to punish bad behavior.
  9. Do some research on discipline, and always choose your words carefully (mainly when you are upset). Set rules and be consistent. Be kind but firm, and explain the rules and the punishment for breaking a rule.
  10. Step back and let your kids figure things out for themselves. Encourage your children to explore their interests and passions. Each child is unique and has their own talents and interests. So, give them the freedom to explore and find what they love doing most. This can help them develop a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
  11. When you talk to any child, always try to get at eye level with them. This will mean that you will have to squat, sit on your knees, or sit on the floor.
  12. Love, listen, support, and empower your child. Raising your child in a loving and compassionate environment will make them more affectionate and kind adults. Make sure your child knows that your love for them is unconditional.
  13. Sometimes the only way you can have your own personal time or be able to get work done is when your child is asleep.
  14. Be mindful of how you handle conflict with or around your child. Getting angry, being sarcastic, or making fun of your child or someone else will only make situations worse and is a bad example. Your children look up to you, especially when they are younger, so behave in the way you would like them to act.
  15. Never tolerate your child being rude or disrespectful. At the same time, never be rude or disrespectful to your child.
  16. Pay attention! Learn how your child communicates, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and the things they are interested in. Combine what you learn to develop an environment specifically for them that fosters creativity, growth, and confidence.
  17. Always tell the truth. And if you make a mistake, own up to it and apologize.
  18. Raising kids is like assembling IKEA furniture without instructions; eventually, it all comes together, but there are some confusing moments.
  19. Stick to your rules and know what your family values are.
  20. Quit buying so much stuff! Teach your children how to take care of their things and to be grateful for what they have.
  21. Give your children chores and an allowance. Teach them how to save and buy things with their own money.
  22. Teaching children the value of giving to others fosters a deep understanding of interconnectedness, revealing the profound impact our actions can have on the world around us. Guide them towards a life rooted in compassion and unity, where giving becomes a natural expression of our shared human experience.
  23. Help your children appreciate and respect nature. Nature is all around us, and it’s important to recognize and appreciate its beauty and importance. Encourage your children to spend time outside, learn about the environment, and respect the natural world. This can help them develop a sense of awe and wonder that can inspire them throughout their lives.
  24. Avoid being too strict or controlling. Instead, allow your children to make mistakes and learn from them. Nobody’s perfect, and children need to learn from their mistakes. So instead of being too hard on them, offer guidance and support when they make errors. By allowing your children to take risks and learn from their experiences, you can help them develop resilience and self-confidence.
  25. Limit the time you let an electronic device babysit your child. And monitor what they watch and interact with.
  26. Encourage your children to live in the present moment and not worry too much about the future. It’s easy to get caught up worrying about what might happen in the future, but kids need to learn to enjoy the present moment. Encourage them to be mindful and appreciate the little things in life. This can help them feel more grounded and centered.
  27. When you take your child to the store, remember that from their point of view, they are at some kind of wonderland, filled with endless and overwhelming items to touch and discover. Set some ground rules before you go in, that they can see and feel things, but that you are not going to buy them something every time you go to the store. Try to avoid going when they are hungry or tired and give them a job to do. It is okay to give them a treat if they do well in the store, but never give them a reward to prevent or stop a meltdown.
  28. Show empathy. Empathy is one of the most important emotional skills you can develop. Learn what it is, practice it, and teach it to your kids.
  29. Teach your child gratitude and take time each day to talk to each other about what you are grateful for.
  30. Children are stronger, smarter, and more resourceful thank you think.
  31. Be loving, respectful, and affectionate with your partner in front of your child.
  32. Using praise and rewards is much more effective than yelling, put-downs, and punishment. Be sure to find things that your child is doing right and praise them for it right when they are doing it.
  33. Read, snuggle, dance, and sing with your child.
  34. If you have an adult child still living at home, do not just kick them out. You should continue to support their life and career goals, but eventually, you will need to withdraw your financial support. Emotionally, your child may just be afraid of being on their own, and you should reassure them that you will always be there for them, no matter where they are. Do not make them too comfortable and treat them like the adult that they are. You should beef up the work that they must do around the house, as well as make them financially responsible for their own food, gas, and even rent. Once your child gets a taste of freedom (especially from you), real responsibility, and independence, they will want to leave your nest. Once they are out creating their own world on their own terms, they will look back and wonder why they had hesitated for so long and what they were afraid of.
  35. Avoid comparing your children to others instead of focusing on their strengths and abilities. Each child has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. So, instead of comparing them to others, focus on what they’re good at and encourage them to pursue their passions. This can help them develop a strong sense of self-worth and confidence.
  36. Create a safe and fun environment for your children to explore, learn, and play in. This should be a place disconnected from the TV, video games, and the tablet/phone. The only media source might be something that plays music. Do not let them manipulate you into entertaining them (they are smart about this), but find ways to help them discover their own creative ideas to entertain themselves.
  37. Take care of yourself, rest when you can, and know your limits. It is always okay to ask for help!
  38. If you are a father, you must learn, invent, and tell Dad jokes…no matter how dumb they are, how embarrassed you make your family, or how stupid they make you look or sound.
  39. Try not to stress out and fight with your child about food. If they refuse to eat what you have made, just let it go…they will not starve. When they ultimately come to you saying they are hungry, offer them a healthy alternative. No snacks or treats until they have eaten something healthy. The hungrier someone is, the more they will be willing to try something new. Try to make it fun.
  40. Put your phone away whenever possible when you are with your kids. Especially when you’re at your child’s practice, don’t be like all the other parents who are missing their kid checking on you to see if you’re watching them.
  41. Having a star chart is a great way to help establish positive habits. Set goals that you know they can achieve and keep this in a place where everyone can see and track progress. Give a good reward for completing a goal.
  42. When it comes to your child’s health, trust your gut. Take them to the doctor even if it only makes you feel better (ignore what anyone else but what your doctor suggests). Make sure they are vaccinated, brush their teeth, and take baths often. Use sunblock, make sure the right car seats are correctly installed, and never leave them in the bathtub alone.
  43. Never lie about who or where your child’s biological father is, even if he was abusive.
  44. Teach your children to embrace change and not fear it. Change is a natural part of life; kids must learn to adapt and embrace new situations. Encourage your children to be open-minded and not fear change. This can help them develop a sense of resilience and adaptability.
  45. If your child never seems to take your advice, then focus on living the way you want them to live. Be a good example for them to follow and look up to and have high standards for them and yourself.
  46. If possible, drive your child back and forth to school versus putting them on the bus. Sure, it takes a chunk out of your day and is not very convenient, but that journey back and forth is an amazingly special time you can have with them. Rock out and pump them up on the way to school and talk about each of your days (or just about life) on the way home. You will learn much more about your child’s day than you ever could at the dinner table. Besides, you will have them willfully (and legally) restrained, so they do not have much choice but to communicate with you.
  47. Let your kids play with their food. Have fun and be creative when serving up your meals. Kids will eat more if you make their food look fun and if you make a game out of it.
  48. Although it is plenty scary, it is essential to give your child their own space and privacy from time to time to help them learn independence. Be protective (but not overprotective).
  49. Help your child to live up to their potential and to be the best person they can be. You cannot be passive about this, as your child will need your loving guidance and support.
  50. Do not force your child to play sports.
  51. Help children connect with their inner selves through reflection, self-awareness, and meditation.
  52. Listen to your children and try to understand their perspectives and feelings. Children have their own thoughts and feelings, and it’s important to listen and understand. By doing so, you can help your children feel heard and validated. This can help them develop a sense of self-worth and trust in their relationships.
  53. Encourage children to develop empathy and understanding of others by exposing them to diverse experiences and cultures.
  54. When playing games with children, resist the temptation to let them win easily. Instead, teach them strategy and offer a challenge. The day they triumph fairly over you will be etched in their memories with pride.
  55. Provide children with opportunities to learn and grow through challenges and difficult experiences.
  56. Foster a sense of purpose and meaning in children by encouraging them to explore their values and beliefs, and to engage in meaningful activities.
  57. Never make fun of the way your child talks, walks, or does things. And never make fun of someone else’s child.
  58. Discover what your children enjoy, what they excel at, and what brings them joy. Give their talents time to show themselves, and when they do, provide your unwavering support. Tell them how proud you are of their achievements and keep telling them until they are confident in their abilities.
  59. Take any abuse or shortcomings you may have had from your parents as lessons and motivation to make you a better parent.
  60. Have your children participate in regular household chores, and they will respect what you do a bit more, be more mindful of the messes they make, help them develop a good work ethic, and it will make them feel better about themselves.
  61. When you keep telling your child they are bad, they will live up to your expectations.
  62. If any child wants to show you something that they have created, stop everything you are doing or any conversations you are having and be 110% interested in what they have made. If it is a picture, ask them questions about it. If it is a song, listen to all of it, and do not allow yourself to be distracted.
  63. When making a decision, try to include them and ask for their opinion.
  64. At some point in your life, your children will figure out exactly the kind of person you are, just like you figured out the kinds of people your parents are. Make every moment count and strive to be a person they will be proud of when they figure you out.