Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Parenting...Be Available

I have read just about every parenting book out there with strategies and techniques ranging from extreme permissive to Nazi-like control. But I think there are basic things parents can do that help kids grow into healthy, happy, normal adults that aren't going to require daily therapy. So here is my seven things parents can do to raise happy, healthy kids:

1. Be available to love. Children need to be told they are loved at least once a day. This can be done through affirmation, praise and just saying "I love you," "I care about you," "I like you," "I think you're pretty cool," and "I am proud of you."

2. Be available to listen. Kids have things on their mind and they will talk about it if given half a chance. They ask questions. They say immature and naive things that crack me up. Treat each statement with respect and they will continue to talk to you as a teen and adult.

3. Be available for affection. When your kids hug you, hug back. Show your kids physical affection at least 5 times a day. Give them a back rub, hug , wrestle, kiss, hold hands, pet, and snuggle. Affection is the most effective way to communicate love, deeper than just saying it. Dads, be affectionate with your sons...don't hold back even as they get older.

4. Be available for help. Kids need help. They need homework help (or may pretend to to get one on one time). They need help learning about life and how to operate in their world with relationships. They need help cleaning, organizing and learning the healthy habits that will sustain them into adulthood.

5. Be available to play. I have spent many an hour throwing balls to my sons. We have wrestled, tackled, chased and laughed together. Play Uno, Skipbo, Risk, and Catan. They thrive on it. It teaches them to take life a little less seriously and just to have fun. It also teaches them to be a good sport, whether they win or lose.

6. Be available to practice awe. Take the time to worship God and teach them about the things that have deeper meaning a purpose. Stand on top of a mountain or a canyon or look at a beautiful flower together and marvel at the hand of God. Encourage them to read scripture and teach them gratitude for what they have been given. Help them discover awe in their life.

7. Be available for celebration. Celebrate often. Christmas, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, victories and a game well played. Go all out. Put up the Christmas tree, wrap the presents, put candles on the cake, go to Braums and eat a victory Rocky Road ice cream cone, or break out the Blue Bell ice cream. Take the time to treat each other special.

What would you add to the list?


  1. "Be Available" What a powerful parenting mantra. Great post!

  2. Great post, Chris! Oh, if only there were more fathers like you out there.

    Regarding games, I did not grow up playing them, but they're an indispensable part of our family life. However, Settlers of Cataan gets our blood pressure up. ;)

    If I were to add an item, it would be to apologize to your wife and kids, whenever you mess up. It takes a lot of courage and humility for a father to admit he's wrong, and it's a great example to his kids. After all, repentance and a humble heart are prerequisites to salvation.

  3. Settlers drives me nuts because I get either really low numbers, really high numbers, or the desert. Never have won it...I just watch as everyone else's self esteem gets stroked at my expense...I build my kids up by fair is that.

    The humility to ask for for forgiveness is something we could all use a little more of. Good point man.