At this time of year—right at the beginning—we all have the tendency to take a fresh look at where we are in our lives.
And that is a good thing.
Most of us think immediately of our health and our finances, milestones we hope to achieve, and those we definitely have not, and we make decisions to change all that for the better.
But the one area that is often overlooked and can quite easily bring about the greatest impact in our lives is how we parent.
That’s why, to begin this new year, I am assembling the top 4 areas of our parenting that we can all improve in and make 2022 our best year of parenting yet!
If I could just throw in my two cents right here, it would be to say that I don’t recommend tackling more than ONE of the areas below. By choosing only one, you will not only increase your chances of being successful, but you will know why you are suddenly less stressed and more able to be the kind of parent that you want to be. Rather than wondering which of the areas made the biggest impact, there will be one clear answer. You will be able to say, “Oh yeah, it’s because I did (and continue to do) this!”
So with that in mind, let’s dive in.
The one area that is often overlooked and can quite easily bring about the greatest impact in our lives is how we parent.
NUMBER 4: Get Back to Play
I remember hearing many years ago that the world would be alright as long as moms and dads remembered to play with their kids, and I do believe that there is so much truth in that.
But why should this even need to be said? After all, it’s not like we don’t want to play with the kids.
Well, you and I know that over time (and if we’re not careful), the stresses of the days and weeks can take over our thoughts. And what seemed like a pretty solid routine of daily play can be forgotten for “more important matters.”
But the fact is …
Your children need to see you at your most playful. Heck, YOU need to see yourself as playful.
You are not just the warden, the one enforcing rules. And you are not just the adult, the one who has serious responsibilities to look after. Of course, you have to deal with these things, too, but somewhere inside you there is a kid too.
You are a child of God, remember?
Do yourself a favour and get back to play. It really does make a difference in the life of parents.
NUMBER 3: Model the Behaviour You Want to See
One of my favourite phrases for reminding myself about my role as a parent is: welcome to life!
Why is that?
Because no matter how little we might be actively teaching our children, or talking to them about right and wrong, or correcting their behaviour, or even discussing their studies—no matter what—our actions are still sending a message.
Now, that message can either be positive or negative. It could be serious or silly. But the most important part to realize is that for your kids, how you speak and behave is interpreted by their minds as the best way to speak and behave.
And why would they think that?
Because you are their original hero. They naturally want to like what mom likes. They naturally want to do what dad does. Your children want to interact with the world like you do because deep down, they really do want to be like you.
So number three on our list for parenting better in 2022 is to take our own words and behaviour seriously.
If you want your kids to love going to church then you need to love going to church. If you want them to clean up their potty mouths then YOU need to clean up yours.
Model the behaviour that you want to see in your children and slowly but surely you will find them following suit.
NUMBER 2: Communicate Like You Mean It
Yes, how you live life is definitely going to teach your children some very important lessons about their own lives and who they want to become, but we all recognize that we need to actively communicate as well.
This means that we have to find the right words with the right child so that they, as individuals, will hear what we are trying to say to them.
Practically speaking, this means tapping into the best communicative tools and insights out there so that we’re not missing a beat on our relationships.
If you want to understand your child’s general moods and approach to various stimuli, then you might want to take a look at their temperament.
If you want to make sure that your child knows that you really do love them, even though we as parents are often imperfect, then you might want to check out their love language.
And if you want to know how to evangelize your child so that they grow to become the man or woman that God is calling them to be, then you definitely want to check out their language of evangelization.
These approaches will definitely show you how to communicate with your kids, but you still need to make it a habit. And that’s precisely why improved communication made it to our better parenting in 2022 list!
NUMBER 1: Create the Family Culture That You Want
Far too many parents sit back and expect an awesome family culture to simply happen. But that’s not how it works.
Family culture is what happens when mom and dad actively seek to make changes in their home to reflect a dream in their hearts.
If they want their culture to incorporate music, then they might decide to play music quietly in the background throughout the day.
If they want their culture to be one that always considers the needs of others, then parents might decide that every dinner includes at least one conversation about how to help others in the community.
Nothing is left to chance. There is no roll of the die here.
When parents decide to focus on creating a family culture, they are filling in the gaps of their day with deliberate and intentional movements.
Because if they don’t …
Those gaps will be filled for them.
Music will still be heard but not the kind they like.
Others will be talked about but probably not for the same reasons.
That’s why number one on our list for better parenting in 2022 is all about family culture.
Actively working on implementing your dream for your family life and parenting just got ten times easier.
So what do you think?
Which of the areas do you think would make the biggest impact on your parenting in 2022?
Let me know in the comments below!
Patrick Sullivan is a Catholic Speaker and the President of Evango, a Catholic Media Organization that seeks to build a culture of Catholic evangelization and missionary discipleship. Patrick travels internationally to speak at Catholic events, parenting conferences, and to lead retreats and parish renewal missions. He is the creator and host of Me & My House, the Catholic parenting program that is transforming how we minister to parents in our dioceses, parishes, and communities. Patrick lives in beautiful Barry’s Bay, Ontario with his loving wife, Kyla, and their nine children.