Parenting Inside the Box

boxYou’ve probably had this happen before. You’ll be in a meeting at work or with a group of friends, brainstorming about a problem. And someone will say, “We need to think outside the box.”

I love when that happens. Because basically that means “let’s be creative.” “Let’s be innovative.”

And, in marketing especially, I love, love, love being creative.

But while I love new ideas and ways of doing things, sometimes it’s important to remember what’s inside the box as well.

Sometimes there’s a lot of good stuff in there. Some golden nuggets of wisdom. That’s how they became popular and widely used to begin with.

Of course, this isn’t just true in marketing. In can be true in just about any area of life. Including parenting.

When it comes to parenting and raising kids, I’m often asked, “how I do it?” I’m not always sure what IT is, but I often feel flattered that someone asked me. (However, I often feel like Oz in the famous book – everything looks good to those on the outside, but they might be very disappointed if they could see how things worked on the inside.)

Sadly, I don’t have many new or innovative ideas when it comes to parenting. Most of my parenting ideas come straight out of the box. Or, just about as often, from experience and what works for me.

Here are the basic strategies I use when parenting:

1. Routine. First, you need to understand, I am not really a routine person. Sure, I have certain things I try to do every day. But, in the past, I might not have always done them at the same time every day.

But I found that my kids, my son especially, responded much better to having a routine that we followed every day. I found that he needed this type of structure in his life. And it has forced me to be on a more strict routine each day too.

2. Be involved. I’ve always been fortunate to have jobs that were flexible enough that I could attend almost all of my kids’ functions and activities, whether at school or in the community.

But being involved is more than just attending. You also have to be there. You know what I mean. When our kids are talking to us, sometimes we’re not mentally there. I’m as guilty of this as anyone, whether I’m working on a project or, sadly, doing something on my phone, I don’t always give my full attention. But it’s my goal to be in my kids’ lives physically and mentally.

3. Be adaptable. At our house, we stay pretty busy during the school year, what with the kids’ schedules, and my schedule. And I’m sure it’s that way at your house, too.

You need to have a routine and rules. But it’s also important to know when to be flexible. When you need to make changes to the routine.

And you also need to be adaptable with your parenting. What works with one child might not work with another one.

4. Respect. I’ve always tried to treat my kids with respect. Not just because I think it’s the right thing to do, but also because our kids watch us. They learn from us. And respecting others in our lives and in the world is one of the most important lessons we can teach our kids.

5. Laugh. Often and easily. You might have already discovered this – in this world we live in, there’s a good chance that things aren’t always going to go right. You know the rule: if something can go wrong . . .

When things go wrong, it often comes down to our attitude. How we respond. Sometimes all you can do is laugh. Most of the time a good laugh will make you feel better anyway. And it will certainly make you feel better than getting angry and upset. Plus, if it wasn’t for stuff going wrong in life, I wouldn’t have many good stories to tell in my blog.

6. Love your kids. You can never love your kids too much. And you can’t tell them you love them too much. You say you already told them today. Well, tell them again.

Remind yourself everyday that your kids are a blessing from God. And then let your kids know that that’s how you feel.

So do these principles make me a perfect parent? No. I’m far from perfect. But I try to work each day to be the best parent I can be. And that’s all any of us can ask of ourselves.


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