Keeping it simple
There is an overwhelming amount of information on the subject of parenting, too much for most parents even to process, and yet I have found that the parents who I respect most are usually the ones who don’t worry very much about it. They choose to focus on the simple things instead.
Studies may come and go about the details, but kids need what they have always needed. They need to eat well and sleep well. They need to be physically and mentally active. They need attention, structure, and discipline. Most of all, they need love.
Most parents know this, of course, only it’s hard work. We’d much rather find a magic solution to our parenting problems in some book or conference or therapy or drug than just do the tough bits of parenting, and so the newest theory or medication becomes an excuse not to do what we already know. It’s not that the theories and medications might not be valuable. It’s just that they shouldn’t be an excuse to neglect our jobs as parents.
My challenge to all parents, to myself especially, but to all of you as well, is to start by doing the simple things, the things you already know. Take the time and the energy, even when it’s hard, to make a meal for your kids rather than just opening a package, to play a game with them rather than just sitting them in front of the television, to discipline them lovingly rather than just punishing them.
I think we might find that a lot of our problem behaviours would resolve themselves without any need for magic cures. It may be harder in some ways, and it may require more from us, but our kids and our families will be better for it.
Luke is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged eight, six, and two. He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university. He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.