Three Parenting Wins

September 15, 2016

It made my day when my daughter, Grace now 24, mentioned something that I repeatedly tried to teach my kids. She said something close to, “like you always told us …” It made my heart all warm and fuzzy inside for quite some time to realize that something I considered a foundational value or principle got through.

Young girl on dad's shoulders at the shore.

I’d like to share today three parenting wins that at least one of my kids heard and continues to have as a core value. In the next few days, I hope to elaborate on each of these principles. For now, here is a brief overview of the three principles

1.  Don’t Scream Unless It’s an Emergency.

For some reason, young children especially girls, can have a tendency to scream as they’re having fun. I remember trying to help my kids to realize that if they were always screaming when there is no danger, it could be hard to know when they were really in need of immediate assistance.

Now parents might be saying I can tell the difference between the screams. You might be right but I didn’t want to take the chance. Plus, a little less noise pollution in the world is always a good thing.

2.  Stop Means Stop.

This was a rule that we had especially when the kids were young. Inherent in the rule was the idea that even the youngest or smallest was empowered to stop whatever activity was going on if they were getting hurt in the process.

If the kids were roughhousing among themselves and one decided this was no longer fun and was starting to hurt, calling stop was to be honored whoever called it. That also empowered the kids in case the adults went too far.

3.  Emphasize the Positive (or Think Solution)

In life, there are always ups and downs, negatives and positives. It’s easy, perhaps human nature to focus on the negative. The child who has 10 options of things they can do but is not allowed to do one particular activity will often obsess over the one prohibited activity. What parent hasn’t heard, “then, I can’t do anything.”  Now, I don’t know that my kids did that too often. But, it could happen. After all, God’s first two kids did the same thing in the Garden of Eden.  Can we expect much different from our little angels?

“Emphasize the Positive” (or “Think Solution) was just an attempt to redirect our thinking to focus on the positive in the situation, whatever the situation may be. This is not unchecked “Positive Thinking” that denies the validity of anything negative. The negative may not be fun but often has to be addressed. However, if we choose to dwell or focus on the negative. It will take us on a downward spiral. However, when we consciously shift our focus to dwell or focus on the positive it opens us to creative solutions.

One evening, our family got together with a couple of other families for some social time. The kids and adults all knew each other so it was a very nice time. I remember Grace had come to me asking if she could do something. I don’t remember what it was, but for me, it was a clear “no”. When I answered, I could tell the disappointment starting to develop. I also was not willing to have a discussion on this while we were out visiting. I simply (and seriously) said four sentences. “You asked. I answered. That’s it. Now, think solution.” I could see the wheels turning as she processed the situation and the options. She came up with a great alternative that was immediately met with a resounding “Yes” and a heartfelt, “Good job.” and a high-five.

If you have kids or have ever been one, you know that not all of my parenting stories were parenting wins. But, it sure is nice to celebrate the wins when they come.


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Kevin Cunningham

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