My children and I had as diverse an upbringing as you could ever imagine.
I was one of 6; they were one of 2.
I saw police frequently at my home; they never did.
I got my first job at age 9 to help support our family; they were blissfully unaware of financial responsibility at age 9.
I lived in the same housing commission home until I was married at age 19; they had travelled the world and lived in several homes by age 19.
You may be reading this and wondering, as I did, “how will I ever be a successful parent, given the upbringing that I have had?”
I can tell you from personal experience that even though your upbringing may have taught you more about what not to do than what to do, you can be the catalyst that brings lasting change, not just for your children, but for generations to come.
These are a few things I hope will help you (as they helped me) be that change:
- Find the courage to stay engaged in healthy relationships. By doing this, you can expose your kids to examples of who they could become. My mother, a single parent for many years, took me to a monthly men’s breakfast at our church and sat up the back while I interacted with men of great character.
- In the early years, I read whatever I could get my hands on with regards to parenting from reputable authors. Having parenting resources on hand was an invaluable parenting tool.
- Don’t be scared to ask for help from another parent who you admire and who has gone before you. [Tip: initiate a coffee catch up, keep to the agreed time and foot the bill – this shows that you value them and their input].
- I prayed a lot. God wants to give you His wisdom and guidance in your daily parenting choices: you are not alone. I also prayed for my kids while they slept.
- This may be a strange one, but have things in your child’s world that stay the same. I always wore the same “Kouros” aftershave. I later found out that if I was away, my girls would spray some on their teddy bears so they could “smell dad”. I think these tokens of consistency can be incredibly stabilising to a child’s environment.
- There is no better way to set your kids up for success in their own marriage than to love your spouse wholeheartedly. Speak highly of your spouse, be best friends, and encourage them to reach their full potential.
- I never forced my own faith on my girls but I lived my faith day in and day out. They would see me reading my bible, making Sundays at church the best day of the week, and being the same man at home as at the pulpit. Today, they love church, and are secure in their faith. Nothing blesses my heart more.
It’s never too late to be the change in your family.
Psalm 145:4: One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.