Fostering Relationships: Parent = Leader
Parents are some of the most influential leaders on the planet. Following are four key behaviors of parents who make the most of this influence and are creating children ready for the best of times and the worst of times.
1. Secretly pay the debt for your children.
My wife is in the middle of a bible study that contains a key lesson of Christian leaders: we must pay the debt for others who are either not strong enough to handle it on their own or who can't pay it. We must unselfishly act with resolve, integrity and responsibility. Effective parents do this for their children. The key here is to do it "secretly" without ever expecting your children to earn it. They deserve it because they are in your care. You must be strong for them and never use these acts as a reward for good behavior. This creates a home environment filled with unconditional love and support.
2. Be filled with a genuine desire to learn and love their ways.
The generational difference can create barriers. It can block understanding, compassion and a sense of community in the home. Effective parents tear down these barriers each time they seek to see life through their children's eyes. A simple example is cell phones. Young people use their phones (via text messages, social media, photos, etc.) to create real community and connections with their friends. Embrace this. Set rules and help them understand the dangers, but be a team player in this area (and many others) with your children.
3. Create a home where mistakes are cherished, celebrated and communicated.
My PLI co-leader Ryan Underwood and his wife have a painting in their home that says something similar to this. It serves as a visual reminder every day that life is full of twists and turns and they will talk, learn and grow together as a family through them. Effective parents help their children understand that the best life does not mean a mistake-free life. The best life is created by responding positively in the face of mistakes. Help your children feel safe to risk big, try new things, and be comfortable with sharing their good days and bad days with you.
4. Time is where families grow.
Effective parents create moments in their day regularly where the focus is just on being together as a family. Do things that involve conversation, being present with one another and just enjoying each other's company. This creates a stack of moments that lead to understanding, connections and memories children can lean on for strength when the lonely times come that every young person experiences.
Parenting is tough for many reasons; stress, commitments, work, troubles, etc. However, it is primarily tough because it is the textbook definition of leadership. And leadership is difficult. Because it matters. Work hard to be a leader for your children. One that is inspiring, motivating and worthy of their unwavering trust and devotion.