An Alphabet for Effective Parenting

On the second Sunday of this month (May 8), mothers have a designated day of celebration. On the third Sunday of next month (June 19), fathers have an official day of recognition.
As we honor parents and parent-figures during the next two months, may we also consider the following “alphabet” for effective parenting:

A is for Accountability. Hold your children accountable for their behavior.
B is for Boundaries. Set specific limits. Make clear the repercussions if those limits are exceeded.
C is for Consistency. Hold to the same principles and practices.
D is for Discipline. Make the punishment fit the wrong-doing. Never discipline in anger.
E is for Example. Children are in greater need of models than critics. Set a good example.
F is for Forgiveness. Practice it and teach the importance of forgiving.
G is for Giving. Teach the joy of giving, not only to family and friends but also to strangers in need. H is for Humor. Keep your sense of humor. Promote laughter with your children.
I is for Imagination. Be creative. Play with your children.
J is for J ustice. Be fair . Insist that they be fair as well.
K is for Knowing. Know your children’s friends, their families and your children’s teachers.
L is for Listening. Listen to your children—to their words and their silences.
M is for Morals. Be certain your own standard of conduct is sound.
N is for No. Use it, say it and mean it.
O is for Outdoors. Provide as much outdoor activity as possible. Teach respect for nature.
P is for Pressure. Reduce pressures on your children, but insist that they maintain high standards. Q is for Questions. Pay close attention to their questions, and give them simple answers.
R is for Respect. Show respect, teach respect, and earn respect.
S is for Strength. Share your own faith—your source of strength–with your children.
T is for Togetherness. Have special times to be together as a family, but also be flexible.
U is for Uniqueness. Understand the uniqueness of each child, and let that child be who she or he is. V is for Voice. Tone of voice can convey more to a child than the spoken words.
W is for Word. Keep your word. Broken promises destroy trust.
X is for eXamine. Examine constantly and be aware.
Y is for You. Take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.
Z is for Zowie! Who would have thought children would grow up so quickly?

Parenting is the easiest activity in the world about which to have an opinion. But parenting is the hardest activity in the world to do.
Even the Old Testament and New Testament offer parenting advice:
Teach children of the right ways. When they are old, they will not stray. (Proverbs 6:22) Parents: Do not provoke your children to anger, or they may lose heart. (Colossians 3:21)
Even so, the Old and New Testaments also feature examples of less-than-ideal parenting: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and David in the Old Testament; Judas in the New Testament.
As we remember both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, may we also remember that it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken individuals.
May God bless all parents and parent-figures with unconditionally loving hearts and well-conditioned guiding spirits.

Beside you in the journey of faith,
Rev. Barbara