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Parenting - Starting With The End In Mind

Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. -- Parenting is definitely one of the huge responsibilities we have as adults. Marriage and family is a fact of life and parenting takes a lot of work. And...we all know that no instruction manual comes with a baby. Many times, we learn from experience. Raise your hand if you have changed a lot in raising your 2nd or 3rd child compared to how you raised that 1st one. No wonder first-born children have attitudes! Experience can be a great teacher, but it is also good to learn from others so you can do things right the first time. Here are some tips I have been taught over the years on parenting that could be helpful for you. When it comes to parenting, us parents need to support each other. We need all the help we can get!

Stephen Covey, author of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" had some great advice about planning. He said, "Start with the end in mind." While that wasn't specific to parenting, it certainly applies! Take some time to ask yourself, "What do I want my child to be like when he or she reaches adulthood?" May I suggest that the focus should be more on character than career? Yes, we all want our children to be successful and find a career that will be exciting, give fulfillment, and put food on the table. But, more importantly, we want them to have character! Dr. Kevin Leman, in his series "Value-Packed Parenting", recommends three Rs to focus on - being respectful, responsible, and resourceful. If your children can take those traits away from all those years of parenting, they will have a great tool kit for success in life.

Another important aspect of parenting is spending quality and quantity time. You really need both. Sometimes, it is hard to be there as much as we want, especially if we have a deployment or something like that, but over the course of time we really need to be there in quantity and quality. I was once given three Ms to remember that have helped me in my parenting journey - modeling, moments, and memories. The most important thing we can do in parenting is set the example for our children. They need to see us modeling good character - the 3 Rs. We also need to take the day to day moments of life to teach our children. Take everyday situations and look for the opportunity to talk about values and decision making. Ask your children how they would handle a specific situation. Ask them what they think about what just happened. Point out great examples of character when you see it. Finally, make sure to create memories with your kids - vacations, fun times at home, holidays, etc. Make sure they grow up with some wonderful memories about family and experiences together. All these will work together to help them become the adults they need to be.

Remember:
3 Rs - Respectful, Responsble, Resourceful
3 Ms - Modeling, Moments, Memoris

Parenting is hard but it is also a joy. We are not perfect parents, but we can give it our best shot at helping our children become all they can be. Guess what? Your children either already know or will soon learn that you are not perfect. Perfection is not the goal. The goal is to love them and do your best for them - that's all anyone can ask for. It is never too late to be a good parent. Happy parenting!