Every year we all strive to get better at something. Whether it’s to steer clear of junk food or to start saving more money. But how often do you set New Year’s goals and resolutions for yourself in regards to your parenting?
As you spend time in reflection and consider how you want to do things differently this year, plan on setting some goals for your parenting too. As a Christian parent, you have the important task to not only raise well-behaved kids, but to lead your children to Christ.
And none of us are perfect at that…
If you’re like most other parents, you probably tend to overreact to your kids’ behavior too much, nag them too frequently, and more than likely you don’t feel like you spend enough quality time with them. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Parenting is (quite accurately) believed to be the hardest job in the world. And unfortunately children don’t come with an operator’s manual. So parenting is a constant learning process.
As you think about what the next year of parenthood will look like, here are 16 New Year’s resolutions that you can resolve to do as a Christian parent in the coming year.
Put God first and seek His will
As a Christian parent, it is vital to seek God’s will for the lives of your children. How you parent them should be guided by God’s teaching and examples in the Bible. This isn’t as straightforward as it seems, but it is important to seek God’s will for your children and your direction as a parent through prayer and Bible study. Putting Him first will help you to steer your children towards Christ and train them up properly in the way they should go.
Educate yourself in parenting tips, techniques, and tactics
There is a verifiable plethora of information out there to help you grow as a parent. The first place you need to look to is the Bible. But it can be challenging to pull the parenting advice from it (although it’s most certainly there). However, there are so many books, websites, courses, and more out there that can help you to grow as a parent from a Biblical perspective or just generic parenting advice. Resolve yourself to dig deep and learn more about how to better navigate parenting your children in a way that is God-honoring and effective.
Focus on your children’s positive behaviors
If it seems like you are always pointing out your kids’ bad behaviors and it’s not helping to resolve anything, then why not try to ignore more of the negative things. Instead, start trying to catch your kids being good. Children always respond to positive reinforcement the best (like adults). So they are more likely to develop good habits if they result in getting your attention.
Be more consistent with disciplining your children
Discipline is an important task. Because how you handle your childrens’ misbehavior will test your patience and your resolve, even if you’re calmest parent in the world. Be consistent when it comes to setting boundaries and limits. However, also consider negotiating more often and being willing to let some things go. Calmly respond to your children’s disobedience instead of resorting to yelling or other severe measures in an effort to “teach them a lesson”.
Stop with all the yelling and constant reminding to behave
Constantly pestering your children to behave or to follow through with the things you’ve instructed them to do doesn’t always help anything. And sometimes over-nagging and yelling can actually seem to create numb ears who don’t perk up at the sound of your instruction. So instead of resorting to yelling and frequently complaining about their behavior, research other ways that you can respond instead. Try to find different parenting and discipline methods that might be more effective in training them up to be obedient and respectful towards you.
Take regular breaks and alone time
Being a mom is a lot of work. And while it is a ministry to serve your family, carving out alone time isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity! Adjust your schedule and recruit your husband, relatives, or a babysitter to help, so you can have the regular alone time that you need in order to refresh and recoup.
Be persistent and consistent in encouraging your children
It’s believed that children will hear at least seventeen negative comments for every word of praise and encouragement they hear at home. Exposure to constant criticism and negativity can have awful effects on children. If encouraging others doesn’t come naturally, then try adding in positive comments to the things that you regularly tell them every day. For example, instead of just saying “good night”, tell them “good night, sweetheart. I love you and I’m so grateful for you.” This way, at least you can rest assured that you’ve encouraged them (at the very least) one time each day. And that’s a great start!
Plan some alone time with your husband
Whether it’s a romantic weekend out of town, going to a coffee shop together, or even planning regular date-night-ins, make sure you take some time alone with your husband — and don’t only talk about your kids! If you’re finding it hard to get out of the house together because it’s difficult (or too expensive) to find a babysitter, then try one of our date night in ideas from our free checklist. You have no excuses, mama. 😉
Don’t fear the guilt, learn from it
Let’s face it, there are plenty of things that parents can find themselves guilty about, and the enemy is all too eager to whisper thoughts of guilt into our ears. Guilt for things like having to work late at work, or having to put your children into childcare. Even when you have to discipline your children it can be a common source of guilt. Instead of trying to ease your guilt by being overly lenient on your children, or by spoiling them with toys, use guilt as a tool. Guilt can help to alert you of a genuine problem. Take time to think about if there’s any merit behind the guilt you feel, or if it is simply the enemy trying to tear you down. Pray about how you should proceed and strive make a change if necessary.
Make a plan to thrive through the chaotic times
Virtually no families are completely immune to those chaotic times throughout the day: morning madness, mealtime mayhem, and bedtime battles are pretty normal for most families. Identify and prepare for the most difficult times of the day for your family. Come up with an action plan to make these times more manageable and agreeable to everyone in the family. What systems can be set in place to be more organized during these times? What compromises can be made to ensure everyone is (fairly) happy? What distractions can be introduced to get through these difficult times? Make a plan to not only survive through the chaotic moments, but thrive through them.
Limit screen time usage
Screens are everywhere now. From the TV, to the computer, to the ever-present cellphones and tablets. There is virtually no getting away from screens altogether. But setting limits throughout the day can ensure that your family is still finding time to connect and that children have plenty of time to get the things done they need to do, and to just have time to play, which is a vital part of childhood. So set limits on the screen time usage throughout the day. And another idea is to establish one night a week that you set aside for a screen free family night. If you need ideas on what to do, our big list of screen free family ideas can help!
Don’t let yourself give in to temper tantrums
Do you find yourself giving in to your two-year-old when he throws himself down in the grocery store and thrashes around like a crab? If your teen stomps off to her room and slams her bedroom door because she didn’t get her way, do you toss your hands up in frustration? Tantrums are a method to emotionally blackmail parents into giving in to their child’s demands. The next time one of your children have a meltdown, remove yourself from the situation and don’t give in to those tactics. And if needed, implement some of those consistent discipline methods we discussed earlier. 😉
Let your children have the room to make (and learn from) their mistakes
A lot of times parents will try to protect their children from most of life’s struggles. But, by doing so, they end up robbing their kids of opportunities to learn from their mistakes, and to develop a sense of responsibility and independence. For example these kinds of parents will take their child’s lunch to school if they forgot it, or pay for their overdue library fines, or think chores are too much to ask children to do. But kids need to have room to be independent, even if that means that they will make mistakes or go through difficult times. Let them have that space to make their own choices, especially if it’s something that won’t hurt them. Making mistakes and going through hard times will help them to grow and to learn how to handle the harder things in life later on. So in the coming year, let your kids take responsibility for more of their own actions.
Keep bad behavior in perspective
There are probably times when you think you’re the worst parent in the world. Or that there can’t possibly be other children out there who act up as much as yours do. Think again. Children misbehaving is not a unique thing to you and your kids. All kids have their moments (some more than others). Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier. However, it can help to know that you’re not alone in this, and just because your child misbehaves doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Instead, try to focus on their positive behaviors (like we discussed earlier) and work hard at maintaining your relationship with them. Your perseverance will be worth it in the end.
Spend more quality family time together
In an era of long working hours, never-ending-busyness, and activities around every bend, finding times when everyone in the family is home at the same time is getting increasingly difficult. You have to be intentional with spending more quality time together as a family, or the years with your children will be gone before you know it. You could try things like striving to eat at least one meal together each day, or establishing a screen free family night once a week, or even making a plan to spend one entire weekend every month solely devoted family activities. It takes intentional and persistent planning to ensure that your family doesn’t lose sight of each other and comes together regularly to reconnect.
Give yourself room for grace
It can be all too easy to print out this set of resolutions, stick them up on the fridge, and then beat yourself up when you don’t knock every single one out of the park in the coming year. But remember that you are human, and none of us are perfect. Try focusing on just one or two of these resolutions this year instead of trying to tackle them all. And give yourself room to mess up and stumble. Instead of becoming discouraged and angry with yourself, learn from it. What’s working? What’s not? What can you change to make it work better? Give yourself the grace to not be perfect, but learn from the things that don’t work so you can grow as a parent and as a family in this upcoming year.
Resolve to grow as a parent this coming year
There are a lot of great resolutions you could make this year and a lot of areas in your life you could focus on. But focusing on growing as a parent is such a timely choice. Because your children are growing and changing everyday. And you can’t get back the time you have with them right now.
So make the most of the time you have with them, and resolve to grow as a parent and family who loves and serves God in the new year with these New Year’s resolutions for Christian parents. Which ones will you focus on this year? Share in the comments below!