I'm no expert and sometimes I wonder if I am getting this parenting thing right, but our children often seem to be an immediate gauge at our progress or lack of in this parenting model.
My children are not described as perfect or gifted but most often as "secure and morally based" which to me is an extreme compliment because that means we are hitting the mark on our ultimate goal.
Since starting Legacy Dad, I have received countless emails and talked with lots of parents on how to raise kids who turn out right. Most want a cookie cutter recipe to follow, just as I did, but unfortunately there is not one.
We've recently had talks with new parents looking for advice on how to go from birth to where we are now and the best advice we have come up with is this:
Moderation - You have to have moderation in all things: TV, video games, music, friends, etc. Going too extreme in restricting or allowing can lead to unintended results.
Healthy Marriage - The basis of the family is the marriage. If the marriage is strong, the family is strong. If there is conflict and pain in the marriage, there will be conflict and pain in the family.
Foundation - The family needs a strong foundation to build on. This includes faith, morals and values, and a set of family rules. Children need to know the boundaries and need to know there are consequences for crossing them.
Focus on What Counts - Basing a child's identity on their win ratio in sports, academic success and physical beauty are what the world deems important. We focus on character traits, relationships (including one with God), calculated risk taking and the freedom to express oneself and be different without ridicule or criticism.
Note: There is nothing wrong with success in sports, academics or physical beauty and if your child has been blessed with these traits that is wonderful. The problem is when we focus on these areas as the most important.
Parental Modeling - Study after study shows that it does not matter what we say, but what we do that shapes our children's being more than anything. The behaviors and example we set in everything, whether our children are watching or not, are the ones our children will adopt whether we like it or not.
Finally, remember that every parent leaves a legacy. Some good, some bad. Some mediocre, some significant. The unknown factor in the equation is not the child but the parents.
Keep up the great work dads, Happy Father's Day.