23 Apr 4 Christian Parenting Mistakes (that are Easy to Avoid)
Today, we’re chatting about four Christian parenting mistakes that are easy to avoid. If you are committing some of these mistakes, don’t feel discouraged. I’m going to give you some great ways to avoid these mistakes in the future.
Listen to this post on The Graceful Life Podcast!
As we go through these I want you to take an honest look at your own parenting and see if you are doing some of these things. If you are, I want you to really begin to be proactive about changing the way that you parent so that you can be the best mom that you possibly can be.
God Has Entrusted You
God has entrusted us with this huge job of raising the next generation of kingdom changers.
I want to raise godly kids. I want to raise children who are going to change the world. Part of that means taking a hard look at the way that I’m parenting now. That means acknowledging some of the mistakes I’m making, getting wisdom from other people, and then taking action on those mistakes.
Once we do this we can turn them around so that they become strengths instead of weaknesses.
Four Parenting Mistakes To Avoid
Mistake #1: Not Using Teachable Moments
The first parenting mistake that I see, and I first saw it in my own life, was not using teachable moments. This means using proactive discipline versus reactive discipline. This means recognizing moments in your day that you can use as teachable moments with your kids. You can begin to teach them the why and the heart of obedience before you have to discipline negative behavior.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t discipline behavior. It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to ever have to discipline at all, but using teachable moments helps. The aim of it is to change your child’s heart and not just their behavior.
For instance, if your child comes home from school and they say, “Mom, you should have seen what so and so did today. They had to go to the principal’s office.” You can tell your child, “I’m so glad that wasn’t you”.
You can find out what the situation was and then ask your child, “What would you do if you were in that position? What would you do if a friend was trying to convince you to do something and you knew it was wrong?”
You’re using someone else’s experience to teach them, so maybe they don’t have to go through that experience themselves because you’ve taught them ahead of time.
This can be especially helpful if you have kids with a little bit of space in between their ages. What the first child has done sometimes negatively impacts the rules that you have for the rest of your children, but you can use that in a positive way.
You can say, “Johnny did this, this, and this, but here’s how we can change that.” You can also use this in other situations. As your kids see things that come up in their lives, you can use that as a teachable moment, even in your own life.
If I’m struggling with something or I snap at my kids, I can tell them, “Son, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I was stressed out but I should not have responded to you in that way.” What that does is it teaches them, that mom makes mistakes too, but this is what she does when she makes those mistakes.
Ask The Lord to show you teachable moments that you can use to train up your children.
Mistake #2: Not Allowing Others Develop Relationships With Your Children
The next Christian parenting mistake that I see, especially with newer moms, is not allowing others to develop relationships with their kids. This is due to the mother’s own insecurity.
We all secretly love that first moment when someone’s holding our baby and the baby starts crying and reaches back for us. It feels like, “I’m their mother and no one can comfort them the way that I can.”
We can fall into this trap. It all boils down to pride. We feel like if they enjoy spending time with other people, then they must not love us as much.
Part of this originates from comparison. We send them to the babysitter and that babysitter has tons of fun time for them. Maybe your kids go to your mom’s house, she might have time to do things with them that feel more special. She paints with them and bakes cookies at her house.
You can’t let your insecurity rob your children of meaningful relationships with the other people around them.
This includes your husband. This is definitely a mistake I see with moms of small children. They have the misbelief that they’re the only ones that can comfort the child. They feel that their husband can’t take care of their child as long or as well as they can.*
Mistake #3: Not Valuing Service
The next mistake I sometimes see moms make is not valuing service. It’s easy to think that we’re so busy that we can’t serve in our church. That’s deceit from the enemy.
My family has a lot going on, but we are very tightly knit. We have dinner at home or dinner together almost every night in the week, but we also value service. It’s important for you to let your children see you value your church family. We do this by serving in our church and not just by prioritizing church attendance.
When I was growing up, I would always joke with my parents because going to church was non-negotiable. We didn’t have the choice to go or not go. I remember if I ever said, “I don’t feel good” they would ask, “Are you throwing up?” “No.” “Okay, then let’s go to church.”
I’m not saying that even if your child is super sick that you force them to go to church. What I am saying is you need to value spending time with your church family.
You need to value service.
I know having “family time” is a reason many of us don’t go to church. But I want to realize that attending church doesn’t stop you from having a close-knit family.
Actually, it’s just the opposite. What it does is makes your family closer. As you serve together, your kids start to see what you value and then they’re going to value the same thing.
If you only go to church once or twice a month just to get filled and then you leave without paying it forward, then that’s going to negatively impact your kids.
That’s going to show them that church is just for taking and not for giving, and we don’t want to do that. We want to serve. We know that we should follow after Jesus. He came to serve and not to be served and to give His life as a ransom for many, and so we want to do the same thing.
We want to serve God’s people. We want to serve our communities, and even if that means a little bit of sacrifice on our part, it is going to end up benefiting your children.
Mistake #4: Not Being Specific With Praise
The fourth Christian parenting mistake that I see is being really general with your praise. I want to share a video that I created about raising confident kids because this is something that I talk about in depth in that episode.
Related: Raising Confident Kids
I know I’ve struggled when my kids would tell me something I would say a lot of “wows” and “great job.”
Over-familiarity in praise results in those words not meaning anything at all. Every time you use the same set of words, they end up meaning less and less.
If you find yourself always saying things like “wow” or “great job” try to elaborate more. You can say, “Wow, I bet that took a really long time. Why don’t you show me how it works?”
If they made a Lego creation, which is a norm at our house, or if they draw a picture, you can say, “what made you decide to do those colors? I love those colors together.”
This opens up an opportunity for you to create a conversation with your kids. It shows them that you really care about them.
Sure, it takes more time, but it builds them up. You’re more present with your children and you set them up for success. You show them that it’s not about what they’ve done, but it’s about who they are.
Start noticing if you use the same phrases over and over, but don’t be discouraged. Instead of just saying, “Wow, great job!” allow that to trigger you to continue the conversation. Let’s give them the attention that they deserve.
Now I want to give you a bonus mistake because it’s not so much about parenting as it is about changing ourselves.
The fifth Christian parenting mistake that I have seen is expecting perfection from yourself.
God doesn’t work through perfection. He works through vulnerability. A situation happened with one of my sons recently. He messed up and he was crying. He just kept saying, “I can never do anything right.”
I know how that feels because I’m a recovering perfectionist. So, I sat down with him and I said, “Buddy, I know that it can feel like you just can’t do anything right, but you know what, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about just doing your best and getting better each time.”
Let’s break this down:
- I sat down with him.
- I got at his level.
- I showed him that I’m not perfect myself.
All these things helped him to see that I don’t require perfection from him. And more importantly, God doesn’t require perfection from him.
Raising godly kids is not the same as raising perfect kids.
Raising godly kids is not the same thing as raising perfect kids, so don’t base your work and your motherhood on any expectations of perfection.
Do your best. Lean on God to do the rest and that is going to make you the best parent that you possibly can be.
Allowing God to Parent Through You
Whenever you’re constantly spending time with the Lord, you’re allowing Him to parent through you. That’s when all of these mistakes can end up being flipped around and used for good.
What the enemy meant for evil, God can turn it around and use for good.
When we acknowledge the mistakes that we’ve been making we can begin to avoid them. We can choose to allow God to be real in our lives and choose to allow God to use us and use our vulnerabilities to impact His kingdom and our children.