Price: Successful parents build relationships

Ron Price
Special to The Daily Times
Ron Price

Parenting is said to be one of, if not the, most challenging activities known to man. I find this surprising as I can truthfully tell you I have never made a mistake in parenting. Every decision I have made and every act I have taken has been flawless. Now I know some of you are thinking I must be a liar or a fool. There is a third option — I have never had children. Anyone who does have children and still claims they have been perfect is a liar, a fool or delusional.

Through my 29 years as a divorce mediator, I’ve witnessed hundreds, if not thousands, of couples who lost their marriage because they were not united in their parenting. To merge opposing views on how your children should be disciplined and raised is a daunting challenge, but doing so greatly enhances the odds that those children will successfully progress into adulthood.

While the typical mistakes parents make could fill numerous columns, I personally believe the No. 1 mistake parents make is to put too much emphasis on their children and not enough on their marriage. Today’s guest writer focuses on another very common mistake that you will likely recognize in yourself or someone you know.

Hopefully, you’ll recognize the name Barrett Johnson as he wrote the column for us two weeks ago. I asked him to write again to remind you that he and his wife, Jenifer, will be in our area very soon. They will hold a parenting conference on Sept. 16 and 17 at Grace Hill Church in Farmington called "Critical Conversations: Navigating Your Family In A Hyper-Sexualized Culture." You can get more information and buy tickets at gracehill.church/conference.

I urge you to consider attending the conference this coming weekend. There is no shame, or at least there should not be, in admitting you don’t know everything there is to know about raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted children. I’m convinced the investment you make in time and money will pay huge dividends now and well into the future.

"Don't be your kid's friend" and other bad parenting ideas

"I’m not supposed to be my teenagers’ friend. I’m supposed to be their parent."

We have all heard this … because it’s true. If your main objective as a parent is to be "pals" with your kids, then you’re an idiot.

Barrett and Jenifer Johnson

However, some parents take that premise waaaaaay too far. They actually strive to remain emotionally disconnected from their children. As one father I heard put it: "My goal with my teenagers is to make sure they don’t like me." He wanted to parent from the position of consistently being the "bad guy." In my humble (but accurate) opinion, I think he is missing the point. To put it bluntly, he too is an idiot.

The most effective parenting — the kind that truly shapes character and gives your kids a faith that settles deep in their hearts — happens when you and your kids have a powerful heart connection.

Jenifer and I sat in a conference with Stuart and Jill Briscoe a few years ago. This amazing couple, both in their 70s, had much to say about lessons learned through their years of parenting. I clearly remember Jill casually stressing the importance of the connection between a parent and child: "You want them to like you. If they don’t like you, they won’t listen to you. After all, do you listen to people that you don’t like?"

True that.

Sadly, many parents have bought the lie that their influence is minimal when compared with their teen’s peers. So they sit passively by, waiting for their teen to come to them asking for advice or insight. When, in fact, the truth remains that parents are still the most powerful influence in their kids. Furthermore, most kids (including teenagers) desperately want their parents to speak wisdom into their lives.

This all starts and ends with relationship: true, compassionate, tender, patient, open, grace-filled relationship. Sure, your teens will begin to pull away from you, but you can’t stop pursuing them. Or loving them.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to parent your children or teens without placing the highest priority on your relationship with them. You want them to like you. When they do, they will listen to you. Bypass that and all you are is the person who feeds them, clothes them and grounds them when they fail their algebra test.

Your kids need so much more from you than that. Mine do, too. What they need is us. It’s about time we started giving them that.

Ron Price is the owner and operator of Productive Outcomes Inc. and the author of "PLAY NICE in Your Sandbox at Work," an e-book available on Amazon. He can be reached at 505-324-6328.