Effective parenting is more than just feeding, clothing, and disciplining your child–a fact that most of you probably recognize.
It also includes paying attention. As parents, we’ve been told by experts to watch for symptoms and outward expressions of problems our children may be having. And yes, I’d say that’s definitely true.
But effective parenting cannot stop at the headlines.
That’s like picking up the newspaper or glancing through a blog and only reading the headlines. Headlines only shout out the sensational stuff. Headlines are written solely to get your attention.
How about these attention grabbers?
“Porky Pig allegedly assaulted at Great America.” — Chicago Tribune’s TribLocal (July 2010) The real story is that a woman employee of the park dressed as Porky Pig was assaulted.
“Butt seized by terror police.” — ITV (May 2008) The real story was that the guy seized was named Hassan Butt.
“Sad End for Bear with Jar on Head.” — BBC (July 2008) The real story is that US Wildlife officials who tried to capture a bear that had a jar stuck on its head shot the animal after it wandered into a busy Minnesota town.
We live in a society that thrives on reading headlines, and often rarely digs in to get the whole story. We are all guilty of standing in the checkout line at the store and reading the ridiculous headlines.
As parents, we sometimes do the same thing when it comes to our kids. We pay attention to the headlines they throw at us each day, good and bad: awards, sports success, good grades, lying, anger, a messy room, bad grades, rebellion.
And sometimes we stop at the headline. We react to it and act on it before we know all the facts.
Behind every headline there is a deeper story and effective parenting demands that we take the time to read past the headlines that our kids’ actions shout at us each day.
Effective Parenting Means You Must Take the Time to Get the Whole Story
Perhaps one of the most time-consuming tasks of parenting is taking the time to “read” the whole story behind the headlines that your kids’ behavior broadcasts to you each day. It’s much easier to read and deal with the headlines than to get the whole story.
Getting the story behind the headlines takes WORK.
- Hang out with your kids. I didn’t say lecture or psychoanalyze, I said just hang out with them sometimes, with no agenda. Enjoy them.
- Learn how to ask simple questions that will encourage them to talk. Don’t overdue the question asking though. I’ve done this many times with my kids and when I do, I always get the look.
- Listen. Alot. When they talk to you, when they talk to their siblings, when they talk to their friends (This is one of the reasons I always enjoyed driving my kids and their teammates to games). Refrain from gasping when things shock you–instead wait for a teachable moment to speak truth into their lives.
What headlines has your child been broadcasting to you? Have you taken the time to get all the facts?
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