Christian Parenting: The Need for Flexibility.
Successful Christian Parenting comes with a massive learning curve. There are moments in which it may seem like we are complete and utter failures, and there are other moments in which we are so proud of what our kids have accomplished, all we really want to do is just celebrate. There are also going to be times when a change in parenting style is needed. Each child is different, there isn’t one special way to parent a household of multiple kids. The important thing to remember for the Christian parent is to seek God’s wisdom for each child and to remain flexible to what each circumstance requires.
Change Happens, Embrace It
Recently, I started a new job. Where previously I was working evenings, and sometimes into the very early mornings, I now go to work in the opposite part of the day. My work day now begins around 7am and ends around 5pm. We thought it would be an easy transition, but it has actually been a huge adjustment. While we would have liked to just move from one to the other without any issue, it really hasn’t happened that way. We have all had to embrace and accept it and we all have done it in our own unique ways; especially our children. Here is where our flexibility in parenting style has had to come in.
As you may already know from my last article, my wife and I have 3 kids ages 4, 2 and 6 months. At first, my eldest struggled with the fact that daddy was no longer home in the mornings and couldn’t spend time with her when she would wake up. My son, well, he really had no idea what was going on and that was very confusing to him. Our youngest had to change her sleep pattern just as much as momma and daddy did. This experience was so much of a change for all of us that we all ended up coming down with a few bugs that were going around at the time. To be honest, we needed a little help. Shannon Serpette wrote a great article about When Parents Need Help, feel free to check it out, I’m sure you’ll find something that can help you out.
The Lessons We Must Learn
Flexibility has been vital through these changes. We’ve had to be flexible as we changed our schedule around, and flexible with disciplining our kids as they sometimes responded to the change by acting out. We needed to make sure our kids knew that we still cared about what they were going through. In my own response to our new lives, I was less motivated and more irritable with everyone. We prayed a lot about how we could work through this and while we are still trying to find our balance, we have learned a few valuable lessons in parenting.
- Our kids respond differently to the struggles we experience as a family.
- Our kids don’t understand change and neither does anyone else really.
- Working through change as a family makes it a whole lot easier to overcome.
- Help is always there when we need it, but there are times when we need to ask for it.
There are always going to be things in life that we as parents cannot control. It’s a part of life and even the smallest change can throw the balance off in our family routines. As parents, we need to be flexible with our spouses and with how we respond when the things we cannot control take place in our lives. The reality is sometimes change needs to happen, but we can strive to make the transitions as smooth as possible.
Responding with Love
In addition to being flexible, there are three specific things that Christian parents can do to help their children work through change. The first is to make sure your children know how much they are loved. A great book to help with this is called the 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman. Chapman explains that a child’s “love tank” needs to be kept full and every child is different in what they need to truly feel loved. In other words, each child speaks a different “love language.” These love languages are Acts of Service, Touch, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, and Gifts. Learn what love language your child speaks, so that you can top off their love tank through times of change.
The second thing that parents can do is to get back into a routine as quickly as possible. We need to be flexible as parents and discern what is important to keep doing and when, but children thrive on structure. While we may be working on how the new routine should be, it has helped our children to get the basics of their old routine back into place. It makes things less unpredictable and more stable when everything else is new and maybe a little scary for them.
The last step parents can take through times of change is to point them to Jesus as their firm foundation. We can teach them that through scary times, when lots of things are changing, God will never change. He will always be there to love them and help them through every circumstance. Some Bible verses that can go along with this are Joshua 1:9, Hebrews 13:8, and Romans 8:38-39.
There’s no doubt about it, successful Christian parenting comes with its ups and downs. What matters is the way we respond when the need for a change in parenting style comes. Remember, parents, kids tend to react differently from each other and this is why parenting will always need flexibility. We need to be ready to be flexible in how we respond to new circumstances, how we discipline and show love to each child, and in how we guide our families through change. With the help of God, and perhaps a few things listed here, we can successfully get through these challenging life changes.