School is back in session, the Christmas rush is over, and we’re well into a brand new year. I hope and pray the start of 2017 is already better than the end of 2016 (no matter how good or bad 2016 was).
Since everyone loves New Year’s goals and resolutions, here are 6 tips to achieving a worthy goal. Whether it made your list or not, being a better parent is always a top resolution at the beginning of the year. The best way to be a better parent, is to be a better person.
With those thoughts in mind, here are 7 Foolproof Ways to be a Better Parent in 2017…
#1 – Word of the Year
6 years ago, I jumped on a bandwagon which changed my life, and I never saw it coming. I committed to spending one year focusing on one word I wanted built into my life. The word that year was FREEDOM, and since then it’s been a regular part of my world.
Participation is simple. Choose a word, any word, and ask God to begin teaching you about that word in your life. You can journal, draw, paint, photograph, write, garden, read or watch to help stimulate ideas and thoughts about your word.
The key is being intentional. For more thoughts on the Word of the Year project, visit my website AndyBondurant.com.
#2 – Read Your Bible
If we want to be like Jesus, we need to know what He thinks. We can find this in Scripture, so the more we read the Bible, the more we become like Jesus.
There are lots of ways to go about this. You can pick up a physical copy of a “read the bible in a year” plan at the church information desk, or you can find a “read the bible in a year” bible online or at Mardel’s. You can read the 5 day a week devotions on the Cross Points Church app (Apple | Google).
Personally, I like to use the YouVersion Bible App. Here are several devotions I’ve read in the past, which I really have liked:
Community Bible Experience (currently reading)
Reading God’s Story: One-Year Chronological Plan
One Word That Will Change Your Life
Oswald Chambers: My Utmost for His Highest
Living a Better Story
Good or God
Bible in One Year 2017
#3 – Read One Book on Deepening Your Faith
Some of us are readers, and some of us are not. Some of us who read tend to read one type of book or another (fiction, non-fiction, business, leadership, Christian Living). No matter where you fall, I encourage you intentionally choose one book to read this year with the purpose of deepening your faith in God.
Here are a few books I highly recommend. Some of them are “classics” (and for good reason):
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
Wild at Heart by John Eldredge (for men)
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
30 Steps Closer to God by Andy Bondurant (shameless plug)
#4 – Plan One Trip Out of Town With Your Family
I was talking with a mother in our church who has two grown sons. For over 15 years they’ve annually traveled to Padre Island. One boy was married and the other engaged. This mother told me one of the highlights of the recent engagement is the fiance will be able to attend the annual family vacation!
We all know family vacations are the best of times and the worst of times. In the midst of griping, crying and fighting (at least on our trips), there is a reason these trips are important. They create a sense of belonging and history. They bring your family together. Done right, it’s something your child’s future spouse will want to be part of!
One trip I highly recommend is the CPC Mexico Missions trip the week after Christmas. It requires planning and fair amount of cash, but it’s worth it. It’s not your typical family vacation, but it will expose your children (and yourself) to needs we don’t understand inside our borders.
#5 – Plan One Trip Out of the House with Your Spouse
Maybe even more important than a trip with your family is a trip with your spouse. It doesn’t need to be long, it can be one night. It needs to be done.
Your connection with your husband or wife means more than your connection with your children. When your children feel comfort in your marriage, they feel secure in your family. You will continue to live with your spouse long after your children leave the house. Are you pouring into this relationship?
This year determine to deepening your relationship with your spouse for the sake of your children.
#6 – Talk with Each Child Five Minutes More Each Day
Full disclosure…each of the first 5 tips I’ve given I’m either doing or done. This one is a challenge for me too. With 4 kids, this means finding 20 minutes (more) in a busy day to connect and engage with them.
A 2014 British study found (unsurprisingly) that the happiest children talk with both parents more than once a week and quarrel with both parents less than once a week. The best way to achieve this is talk more with them.
One thing I’ve found to be most successful is not asking questions (How was school? How did your practice go?), but to simply talk. Talk about what you did at work, who you talked with, and upcoming events. Share stories from your childhood, and how your favorite sports team did. It’s amazing the questions they’ll begin to ask you. Conversation will ensue…
#7- Intentionally Change One of Your Parenting Styles
Change only happens when it’s done intentionally. It can either happen to you, or you can make it happen in your life. What is one thing about your parenting you can change this year?
I recently read the book, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. It challenged me to let my kids by kids. Allow them, and at times force them to be more free.
This year, I want to focus less on their “future” and be in the present. High school and college will come – and they’ll be ready. Am I allowing them to enjoy life and learn on their own through play and exploration?
That’s my own personal challenge. What is yours? What have you seen you are letting slip? What are too tight on? What do you need to focus on? Choose one thing – just one – and get better at it.
You can do it!
Being a parent can feel overwhelming. It can be a daunting task. I want to encourage you. You can do it! As you can see, my philosophy on being a better parent starts with being a better, more spiritual person.
The staff of Cross Points Church shared during devotions last year about the importance of taking the next step. Sometimes it can feel impossible to keep walking – even when we know it’s the right place to go. The key is to simply keep taking steps.
This year, keep taking steps. Keep walking toward what you know to do as a good parent.
You can do it.
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