It Takes A Team: How to Find Other Parents to Mentor Your Parenting
Dan Seaborn’s passion for encouraging families to love God and follow Jesus moved his heart to begin ministry win at home in 1995. But its indeed Testimonials for writing about parenting and family are that Dan and his wife Jane have been married and living together for forty years, are raising their four children and are grandparents of seven. Let’s gather to hear Dan share practical insights into how he and Jane came up with “Mom and Dad’s House Rules” as he visits the farm’s table today…
Guest post by Dan Seaborn
I was a youth pastor and family life pastor for ten years, so I’ve had the privilege of seeing many children grow up before we ever got past the “childhood” stage with our own children.
As I watched teen after teen graduate from high school and into adulthood I learned that very different parenting approaches all seemed to result in mature and well-adjusted teenagers. The opposite of this was also true: Very different approaches to parenting also seemed to result in immature teenagers who had trouble adjusting and who struggled with discipline and making good decisions.
“Over the years I’ve seen that kids can grow up in very strict families and they can be great – or not so great. This was also true of very forgiving households.”
Over the years I’ve seen that children in very strict families can grow up and become great – or not so great. This also applied to very mild households. I found that this was not the essential piece of the puzzle for good parenting.
That surprised me.
Growing up I was always taught to be stricter with your children is the best for your family.
My own home life wasn’t great, so I’ve always suspected that wasn’t entirely true — and over the years it has I’ve discovered that some beautiful things can come from thinking differently than many of the people around you.
While this can be exhausting and exhausting at times, raising your children to have a biblical perspective on life and be prepared for the world that is to come can be very productive.
When our oldest children were little, I started paying attention to parenting styles. Both strict and indulgent parents ended up having some great kids, so we knew there had to be more to the story than we initially thought.
To learn more about what these parents did to succeed, Jane and I identified three couples we admired for raising mature and well-adjusted teens and young adults, and we took them out to dinner and talked to them about what they valued as parents.
We wanted their insights because we saw their children growing up to love the Lord; they were ripe and in a good place (Proverbs 19:20).
To get different perspectives, we chose a couple that had firm rules and standards, one that had very few rules for their children, and one that fell somewhere in the middle.
“Surprisingly, all three had commonalities such as the importance of treating people kindly, the importance of faith, and the importance of parents setting the standards for the home.”
Surprisingly, all three shared similarities such as the importance of treating people kindly, the importance of faith, and the importance of parents setting the standards for the home.
We didn’t just take these threads and use them as our new family rules. After that, Jane and I spent time praying and listening to God what the rules and expectations would be in our home. We ended up with five things that we called “Mom and Dad’s House Rules.” We printed and framed them. Even though all of our kids are grown and out of the house, we still have the original copy. The design is outdated and it’s obvious that we created the file in a word processor over twenty years ago. But while the design and layout are relics of the past, the rules themselves still apply.
I will not share these rules with you here. If I did you would be tempted to try to replicate what Jane and I used. But I encourage you to look at parents of children who are ten to fifteen years older than you and who you admire. Talk to these parents and work to build your own list!
If you’re a single parent, this can be especially beneficial: you face trials and tribulations that many people will never encounter or even understand. It will also be helpful for you to get perspectives from other adults, some of whom may be more wired like your kids than you are!
If you like this idea but don’t know what to ask, here are a few questions to get you started:
- What would you have liked to have handled differently?
- Which of your rules are you most glad you prioritized?
- Did you have any rules that you gave up at some point because you no longer saw any value in them?
- What do we need to prepare for that you didn’t see coming? What surprised you the most?
- Did you have some rules that worked perfectly for one of your children but failed spectacularly for another?
- When you didn’t agree on an approach, how has parenthood strained your marriage? How did you deal with it?
“There is no ‘formula’ that guarantees your children will go down the path you hope they will.”
Now I would like to offer some disclaimers and warnings:
First of all, there is no “formula” that guarantees that your children will go down the path you hope they will. Your job is to teach them the truth and the right values and morals. But just like everyone else, our children have the opportunity to make their own choices (Proverbs 1:8, 9).
We all hope and pray that they will grow up to love and serve the Lord, but there is no step-by-step guide to ensure this happens.
Parenting isn’t as simple as making rules and sitting back while you watch your children and teens happily follow them.
Children are very good at testing boundaries and can work absolutely tenaciously to find out exactly Where’s the line you can’t cross Just be aware that even if you dream up the perfect set of rules (which I don’t think actually exist), you’re still going to run into problems. I only mention this because I don’t want you to throw away your rules after a few months of the process because you feel they don’t work!
Eventually, manufacturing Rules is a whole different thing than strict Rules.
If you are finding it difficult to implement rules in your home, I strongly encourage you to seek out a counselor who works with children or young people.
Many counselors work exclusively with families going through these types of growing pains, and it’s helpful to know that you’re not alone and that bumps along the way don’t mean you’re doing “wrong.”
Parenting means broken people raise broken people.
And Jesus, our “healer,” is always most drawn to the broken, to bring a hope that truly heals.
Dan Seaborn, MA, is the Founder and President of Winning At Home, an organization that supports marriages and families. Dan uses humor, practical illustrations, and real-life examples to teach others how to win at home. In his latest book Winning at Home: Addressing issues that confuse children and scare parentsDan addresses the myriad of hard-hitting issues that are often not addressed from the pulpit for parents trying to raise children from a faith-based perspective
Parents need tools to help them deal with the pressures of 21st-century parenting, and author, pastor, and speaker Dan Seaborn, in collaboration with his team at Winning At Home, offers answers. So bring your questions to these pages, where you will discover a wealth of wisdom and resources to help you meet the challenges of 21st century parenting. It’s time to reverse your losses and win at home.
[ Our humble thanks to Salem Books for their partnership in today’s devotion ]