Photo by Moritz Kindler on Unsplash
Photo by Moritz Kindler on Unsplash

Effective Parenting


Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the many things that go into being an effective parent.  What are some of the core habits that might helpful for me to focus on?


Many years ago I began to make a list (that I kept in my Bible) of some of the “healthy habits” I wanted to cultivate as a parent.  Just a few simple reminders of the essential basics of being a healthy earthly father that would reflect my heavenly Father.  Here is that list:

Time — Kids still love T-I-M-E.  There is no substitute for quantity and quality time with you.  Christ didn't just give His disciples lectures and tell them to go read the scrolls.  He spent a lot of time with them.  They heard, and saw, and touched, and were forever changed.  You will never “find” time.  You will always have to “make” time for the people that are most important to you.

Touch — Touch often says what words can’t.  Simple things like holding hands, high fives, brushing hair, wrestling, pats on the back can be a great source of affirmation and encouragement.

Talk & Listen — What we say, how we say it, and how well we listen speaks volumes to our kids.  In fact, good listening is one of the least used, but most powerful forms of communication.

Tenderness — Take the time to learn the unique love-language of each one of your kids.  Learn how to love them in ways meaningful to them.  Know you child’s heart and let them know yours.

Teaching — According to Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, we know that life’s most important lessons are better caught than taught.  Take them to church.  Teach them the word . . . AND let your kids actually see the very real difference that Christ can make in a life surrendered to Him.

Tenacity — Love them. Even when they are frustrating, not fun to be around, argumentative, disappointing, and even defiant. Even when they aren’t very lovely. When they aren’t fun to be around, sometimes these are the best times for them to see the power of your love, and the love of their heavenly Father for them.  Your presence, your love, your influence is everything!  Make sure they know that, like their heavenly Father, nothing they do can ever separate them from your love for them.

Timeless Prayer – In James 5:16 we’re told to pray without ceasing.  Make praying for them and with them an identifying mark of who you are as a family.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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