Father Jim Chelich
Parenting does not consist of having a baby and then telling your child what to do for the next eighteen years. Parenting requires something more. Parenting means being willing to do yourself what you ask your children to do. If you ask them to listen when they are spoken to, then you must be willing to listen to others when they speak to you. If you your children not to cross the street with our looking both ways and holding hands, then you must to be willing not to undertake anything important without looking carefully and then reaching out to others to get help before you do it. If you ask them to take responsibility for that they say and do, then you must to be willing to take responsibility for the effect of your words and actions have on others. If you ask your children to learn, then you have to be willing to learn. If you ask them to change and grow, then you have to be willing to change and grow. Children are not objects for parental direction, they are catalysts for parental growth.
Three Secrets to Good Parenting
There are three secrets to being a great parent (or for that matter a great anything good).
First, you have to want to. This is not the same things as “wishing to” or “hoping that you will be.” You have to be humble enough to say—and mean: “I will do whatever I have to and whatever it takes to be a good mom or a good dad!” If you are not willing to say this and mean it with passion, its is not going to happen.
Second, you must have enough humility and raw courage to admit that you cannot do it by yourself, that you need help and be willing to ask for help. Jesus is where you do and who you ask first. Not just when you feel overwhelmed or even once a week, but every day and every time you are about to say something or do something that affects your children in any significant way. Stop for a moment and consciously bring to mind that Jesus is present with you. Then explicitly pray: “Jesus I need you. I need your eyes and your ears, and your wisdom. Let’s do this together.” It doesn’t matter if what you are about to do is read your child a story or talk to them about the trouble they are in. If you don’t see the help of Jesus when you read your children a story, you won’t do it when you try to connect with them when they are in trouble.
Jesus lives for you as a Savior. As a parent this means that he is at you side in every moment. But he can and will be of no saving help to you unless you stop yourself from moving ahead alone, turn to him and ask for his help. “Ask,” he says, “and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and the door will be open to you.”
Connecting your Family to the Big Family
The third secret to being a great parent is to regularly connect your family to that bigger family we all belong to: the family of humanity. You are the parent. This means that you have to rouse the troops (the kids): teach them to notice the needs of others; help them to come up with a plan to reach out to those they notice; lead them in an outreach. It might be just going down the block to shovel the snow off the porch walk of an elderly neighbor.
Doing things regularly for the needy members of the bigger family we all belong to is essential for a happy and content family. IF you don’t, you will notice that everyone in your household is constantly arguing with each other, picking at each others’ faults, discontent with the things they have, complaining about the things they don’t have, and never seem to find any peace with who they are, contentment with where they are or satisfaction with what they have. IF you regularly lead your family in getting “out of themselves” and reaching out to the needs of others, you will find your hearts growing warm and that you like more about each other than you dislike. You will celebrate with what you have rather than complain about what your don’t have, and discover a sense of purpose in your home and serenity in your heart. Families that don’t regularly connect themselves to the big family of humanity usually fold in on themselves and collapse.