It’s one thing to spot the problems you face as a parent. It’s another thing to try to solve them.
Earlier this week we identified five signs that show you might lack integrity in your parenting. Integrity is such a core issue. Like a building that’s well constructed, a leader who has integrity survives storms in tact. And integrity is compelling. We all want to be around people of integrity. Why would our kids be any different?
The more integrity you have as a parent, the more your kids will appreciate your leadership in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, having integrity doesn’t mean everything goes swimmingly as a parent. It’s just better for everyone in the end, and you end up becoming far more of the person God intends you to be.
So, how do you build integrity? Here are five suggestions that can help you build integrity in any of the five areas in which you might lack it:
1. Park your pride.
There actually is a world of difference between wanting great things for your kids and wanting to be known as a parent of a child who does great things. Parents should encourage and at times even push their kids, but the best way to handle this, that I know of, is to do a motive check: Why am I pushing her? Why am I encouraging him? If it’s more about you than it is about them, get on your knees and confess it. God has a way of dealing with our selfish motivations.
2. Become the person you want your child to become.
It is so much easier to see the faults in others than it is to admit our own and deal with them. Start working on your own character as much as you work on your kids’ character. Enlist a friend. Go see a counselor. Educate yourself. Make it a personal priority. The healthier you get, the better chance your kids have of seeing what life can really be.
3. Get on the same page as your spouse.
Yes, this is hard work. And no, it can rarely be done in the moment. Sit down with your spouse when there’s no “issue” to debate and talk about your differences. Be respectful, prayerful and kind. Decide together you are not going to quit at this until you can find some common ground. Go see a counselor. Talk to friends. This is incredibly difficult work, but it’s so worth it. And where disagreement still exists, agree with what your partner said publicly and then address it afterwards privately, when the kids aren’t around. Your kids want you to be on the same page. They really do.
4. Do what you said you were going to do.
Doing what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it is actually the foundation of trust. If you have a habit of making empty promises, stop. Your kids can only handle so much disappointment. Be on time. Under-promise. Over-deliver. Become an expert at time and project management. Often, parents fail on coming through on promises not because they intended to lie, but because the budget got out of control, they lost track of time or they had too many things going on to do them all. Get a calendar. Keep a budget. Find a good to-do app. The more organized you are, the more you’ll be able to do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it. Your kids will learn to trust you.
5. Be authoritative, not authoritarian.
Authoritative parents encourage independence (that’s where your child is heading anyway, right?), but enforce boundaries and limits. Authoritarian parents rarely present choices, options, independent thought or freedom. They like control. Don’t confuse being authoritative with being permissive—authoritative parents might have the same boundaries as authoritarian parents. They just believe that by pursuing discussion, questions and by listening as well as speaking, their children will come to share the values they share. Most often, they do.
These are some strategies to help you and me weather the storms. What would you add? What have you learned?