Good parenting is exhausting. Because good parents don’t stand around and just watch, they go all in.
Let’s use the Grand Canyon as an example. If you’ve ever been there, there’s two ways to experience it. There’s hiking it down through the canyon and up to the rim, and there’s just enjoying the view from the rim.
Author Mark Batterson talks about this in his book All In. He and his son hiked through the canyon and when they reached the South Rim, they stood next to the people who had not hiked it, the “rim huggers”.
“I felt sorry for them, ” he writes. “Why? Because they were seeing it and missing it at the same time. ” He called them rim huggers because they stand and stare, but never hike into the canyon.
Good Parenting Means You are Not a Rim Hugger
What does it mean to not be a Rim Hugger parent?
- It means you join in, and let yourself experience adventure with him. Good parenting means that you hike the canyon with your child instead of standing there watching from the rim (if you are physically able). It means you go outside and play with him every now and then instead of watching him from the window. It means you enjoy movie night on the couch with him instead of letting the movie babysit while you get work done.
- It means that sometimes you have to break the rules. I know that structure is often necessary, but there are times when parents need to loosen up and break the rules. How about the can’t-stay-out-late-on-a-school-night rule? Or the no-ice-cream-before-dinner rule? Or the don’t-get-dirty rule? Or even the don’t-throw-food rule? (as long as they clean it up!) Sometimes going all in as a parent means not being afraid to go all out and just let yourself have fun with your kids.
- It means that you look at their interruptions as opportunities. If your child is interrupting you while you work, while you read a good book, or while you clean the house, it’s way too easy to brush him aside and say later. If it’s at all possible (is that work so important that it can’t be delayed for 10 or 15 minutes?), take the opportunity to focus on the child who is asking for you. You have been given his undivided attention, at least for a few moments, because he wants something from you. If you see this as an opportunity instead of an interruption, it will change your attitude and could give you some precious time with your child.
- It means that you let yourself be silly. If you add silliness in with values, respect, love, and good communication, you have the recipe for a great home environment. Sure, your child may roll his eyes or even act embarrassed, but don’t let him fool you. He may not even realize it, but silliness and laughter are building bonds that will last a lifetime. Laughter is amazing medicine and the family that laughs and gets silly together, in my opinion, has a better chance of staying strong and close as they grow up.
Good parenting means that you don’t see your child grow up secondhand, but you experience it firsthand. It’s the difference between knowing about your kids and knowing your kids. As Batterson says, “Hikers know the canyon in a way that (rim) huggers never will.”
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