There are few subjects in life where we are likely to get a consensus from a group of individuals. Folks will argue and debate about anything and everything. The issues otherwise rational adults will argue about swing from the significant to the silly. Art, politics, the best burger and pizza places in any given city, the correct way to hang a roll of toilet paper, religion—if it’s a subject we talk about, then it’s undoubtedly a subject we argue about.
The one exception to this rule seems to be the topic of mindset or attitude. Everyone seems to agree that mindset can make or break a person. What one believes or thinks about any given subject affects how they behave concerning that subject. Some of my favorite quotes illustrate this truth:
If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. ~Mary Engelbreit
Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious. ~Bill Meyerange
Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. ~Katherine Mansfield
There is no subject where mindset matters more than parenting. There are mindsets or attitudes that we adopt, sometimes unknowingly, which can seriously affect our ability to parent well. Most of these mindsets are actually lies that we’ve bought into, and if we allow these mindsets to continue unchallenged, they can eventually ruin our kids. Today I will share four of the most dangerous mindsets parents can fall into.
Good parents do everything for their kids
There are a many well meaning Moms and Dads who are knocking themselves out to do everything but breathe for their kids. They do their dishes, pick up their stuff, pack their lunches, clean their rooms, pay for luxuries long after kids should have jobs of their own and sometimes even do their kid’s homework for them. This is dangerous because it teaches nothing, produces laziness, and encourages a welfare mentality. Parents should teach kids how to do things for themselves and hold them accountable for a job well done.
The 24-hour news cycle has produced a generation of adults who have weird priorities when it comes to anxiety. Parents worry themselves sick about protecting kids from things that will likely never happen, or that don’t really matter. They freak out over school shootings, Ebola, random kidnappings and what will happen if their kids don’t learn to play an instrument or get into the “right” school. Some of these same parents will allow their kids to be exposed to dangerous ideas and corrupting influences through television, peers and the Internet. Bad things happen, but kids are much more likely to be harmed by the influence of a friend than to become a victim of a school shooting. We should worry about the things we can control and trust God to protect our kids from random acts of evil or disease.
Parenting and guilt go hand in hand. Parental guilt begins in pregnancy, gathers momentum throughout early childhood, reaches a peak in the teen years and continues…well, until you die. Guilt is not automatically a bad thing. If handled wisely, guilt can be a powerful motivator towards change and better parenting. Guilt becomes a bad thing when parents are driven to do things, buy things or indulge their children’s whims out of guilt. Next time you feel guilty about a parenting issue, stop and analyze the feeling. If you can change something, (like yelling or not spending enough time with your kid) change it. If the guilt is coming out of something you can’t change, don’t try and compensate for it with stuff.
Blaming outside influences
Even the best kids have areas that need work. Kids will lie, mistreat other kids, shirk responsibility, and disrespect adults. Their flaws are a result of their human nature. These flaws need to be dealt with decisively. Not blamed on bad teachers, television, other children, gluten or video games. All of those things may contribute to a kid’s issues, but they are not the cause.
After twenty-five years of parenting I have learned that the time is short and we have to take advantage of the teachable moments. When we are deep in the trenches of diapers and temper-tantrums it’s hard to imagine that that our kids will ever grow up and make adult decisions and choices. They do, and they do it very quickly. Smart parents decide early on what kind of an adult they want produce. Then they are intentional about sowing those qualities into their children. Our attitude toward the process makes or breaks our ability to sow truth into our kids while we have them.
He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations~ 1st Chronicles 16:15