There’s a popular meme that does the rounds every so often that features a mock gravestone with the epithet “R.I.P. Common Sense”. And, when it comes to all the unsolicited advice parents are given, it seems that common sense is often the one value missing amongst all the latest theories.
Yet common sense is a good guide on how to model the right values for our children. Christian writer Lynne Burgess is the author of two books on establishing healthy family relationships, All-In Night and the latest book, All-In2Night.
Lynne is candid about the practical things we need to know as parents, and for those of us in faith-based families, her book has some excellent advice for helping our kids grow in faith with us. But Lynne’s down-to-earth tips for good parenting are useful to everyone, and many have been learned over her own up and down journey as a mum of five children, and now as a grandmother.
One of the issues Lynne says affects our ability as parents is the judgment that society is only too ready to give us.
“We have a lot of guilt and judgment as parents—stay-at-home mums get the question ‘what else do you do?’ and working parents get guilt for leaving their kids,” Lynne says.
The other pressure is the busy-ness of our lives, running the kids between dancing classes, swimming classes, music lessons and parties. Sometimes kids just need to be allowed unstructured time to be themselves, as there often isn’t a lot of down time to spend together.
Lynne says that communication is vital, and that it is a two-way street. She says it’s important to share your feelings as a parent, and what you may struggle with, so that children can feel safe to share their struggles with you.
“Be careful of how you react to things they tell you, because if your kids think you will overreact, they may not want to share tough stuff with you. If you can start a healthy and open relationship early, it sets you up for later in life,” Lynne says.
One of the crucial things to do as a parent is to take some time for yourself as a person, which will make you a better parent. If you have a partner, don’t forget to look after your couple relationship as well—parents are also people, who have other names than Mum and Dad.
“If you don’t take time to refresh your soul and rest or refuel, you won’t be at your best for your kids. Taking a bit of time for yourself is not a selfish act and shouldn’t have guilt and judgment attached to it,” Lynne explains.
“Make sure you invest time and effort into your partner relationship because that not only helps you but it models healthy relationships and gives the kids a feeling of security and love.”
Thank goodness common sense is still a very helpful quality in navigating the challenge of good parenting.