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Present Parenting Tips

Posted by Jeff Shankle on

Thanks to Stephen Van Dusen for suggesting this! We’ve compiled a list of the specific ideas that came out of our Present Parenting Workshop on September 23rd with Laura Schwarz and Rob McClellan. Also, we will be addressing several of the items that were mentioned by you in a future gathering. Thank you for your input.Here are a few of Rob’s notes from our first session. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it includes some helpful reminders and suggestions to use as you move through your day.

Your job is to be present, not perfect. Ask, “Is it clear to my child/children that they are my priority in this moment?” If not, is it clear to them why it cannot be?
Check in with these measures periodically to see how you’re doing:

The quality of the “soundtrack” your child/children is experiencing

How you would feel if you could later watch your parenting on video

The image of God you’re imparting on them with the quality of your presence

These measures are about opportunities for course correction. They’re not about guilt or failure. Be kind to yourself in applying them.

Repair encounters that didn’t go well. It may be as important (more so?) than getting it right the first time.

Adopt a posture of being curious with your child/children, inquiring first rather than prematurely judging or scolding.

Whenever possible, include your child/children in what you’re doing. Involving them appropriately builds relationship, trust, and sense of importance/role in the family.

Choose carefully where (and why) you make your stands.

Establish dependable structure and routine. It’s calming, helps them feel safe, and provides a space within which they know they can experience freedom and be creative.

Know and establish limits around certain distractive activities (e.g. media/technology) for them and you.

Recognize that modeling is more effective than instructing.

Embrace self-care as a way of caring for your family (It’s not the same as being selfish!). Remember, “If you don’t feed the shepherd, the shepherd will eat the sheep!” Give yourself and your partner the chance to do what she or he needs to do in order to renew, restore, and be the best version of her/himself.

Build in time for quiet.

Try the Ignatian practice of The Examine with respect to your parenting, making daily lists of where things felt in-sync, good, or successful, and where the struggles arose. Pay attention to the patterns that arise and adjust accordingly. Enlist your child/children in problem-solving.

Don’t go it alone. Join or create a parent group for mutual support, study, or simple companionship. Reach out to pastors for help if you have trouble getting one off the ground.

See therapy as a proactive tool rather than a sign of failure. Get a referral for a good family therapist.

Remember that you are beloved, not because you are a “good” parent, but because your God is good. Release yourself from shame, guilt, and regret as you make good faith efforts to grow in your parenting. In receiving grace as you grow into your role, you will more readily offer it to your child/children as they grow into theirs.


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