Ten years ago, Joe White, Director of Kanakuk Kamps, taught me 10 life principles that changed the way I think about people. On the sandy shores of Table Rock Lake and in the two summers I spent with Joe and his team, I had some of the most formative experiences of my life. Joe’s philosophy on ministry and teaching young people has changed the way I view life, approach my work, love my wife and parent my children. Joe is an expert at youth, teens and all things family. I hope you’ll find the following list of simple concepts helpful as you parent your own children.
#1- Safety First, Safety Last– God has appointed us as protectors and providers of our children. This means we need to pay attention to things they watch, see, experience and listen to at all times.
#2 – A Child’s Name is the Sweetest Word in the English Language– we should call our children by name and do so often. Names are personal and communicate that people have value.
#3 – Enthusiasm Rules- Attitudes are contagious. The excitement or apathy with which you view life will be adopted by your children. The Bible reminds us to be joyful in all things and we can daily teach this biblical truth to our kids by the example we set.
#4- Praise Motivates, Criticism Kills- The words we speak either promote growth or poison others. We should praise our kids for the things they do, cheer them on in life, highlight their uniqueness and accentuate their gifts. We should construct rather than criticize our children, and do so with patience and in love.
#5 – The Closer, the Better- Young kids best understand love in measures of time and action. Words matter too of course. With young kids this means we should sit on the ground, wrestle on the floor and climb in their beds as much as possible. We need to be not only present but engaged in their lives at all times.
# 6 – Speak The Language– Songs, sounds, noises and key phrases make a big impression on children. We should speak on their level, in a way that is relatable and use repetition to reinforce key concepts.
#7 – Teach a Little, Try a Little – Experience is the best teacher. We should take the time to demonstrate trained skills with our kids in small increments, allowing ample opportunity for trial and error, failure and discovery. This requires both time and patience but is a wonderful way to teach.
#8 – It’s a Sin to Bore a Kid– Time with our kids gets shorter as they age so we must make the most of it. The goal is not to constantly entertain our children but to provide structure to their days in a way that encourages growth and development. Dads should look to constantly engage their kids, build into their lives and make the most of every opportunity.
#9 – Track Progress and Celebrate Results – Families should recognize and celebrate their kid’s achievements in character, fitness, maturity and learning. We should set goals and commemorate significant milestones in their life. The reinforcement they receive from us builds the confidence they will rely on for the rest of their life.
#10 – Happy Parents Raise Happy Kids – This is possibly better stated as follows: “Content Parents Raise Grateful Children”. If our children perceive that current circumstances, standard of living or the status quo is not good enough for us, it will never be enough for them. In modeling materialistic living we set them off on the incessant cycle of seeking more. On the contrary, contentment and a sense of peace with normalcy, simple living and the day-to-day breeds humility, fear of the Lord and gratitude that will last a lifetime.