You can demonstrate your love for your kids in a thousand ways, but here are eleven ways you can live out your commitment to be all-in for them.
1. Be present. Put down your phone. Close your laptop. Tune in and be fully with your kids when you’re with them. This is harder than it sounds, which leads me to . . .
2. Listen. Listening is a discipline most of us aren’t very good at. Showing our kids we’re interested in all the little stories and recollections of their day (even if it’s mostly super important information about Spider-Man or their latest obsession) builds confidence that they have our attention for the bigger things later. Whether or not your child is a talker, keep showing up so they’ll realize you’re there for them when they need to talk. (Also, teenagers usually decide to talk late at night when you’re ready to collapse into bed, but it’s worth staying up for.)
3. Be a person of your word. All-in parents earn their kids’ trust through integrity. This means doing what you say you’ll do and being who you say you are. Be careful to promise only what you can fulfill, and if you must break a commitment, take that seriously and own up to it. This not only sets an example for your child but communicates how much you value them.
4. Adjust your schedule to your family’s. We often work hard because we love our kids and want to provide for them. But if we work so much that we have too little time with them, we need to reconsider our motives. Kids spell love: “T-I-M-E.” It won’t always be possible to set your own work schedule, but as much as it depends on you, do all you can to give your family as much time as you can. If you can’t adjust your work hours, take care to prioritize your off time and be focused on what matters. Also, many families could live on less income if they adjusted their lifestyle, giving the family more time together.
5. Show up when they need you. You can’t be everywhere, and your kids will understand that. But do your best to be there when they need you most: Mornings and evenings. For the games, shows, and awards. At the principal’s office and after the breakup.
6. Take care of yourself. Kids need healthy parents. They feel more secure when we’re rested, balanced, and happy. In her book More Than a Mom, Kari Kampakis said, “Wellness helps you become the best version of yourself so you can bravely and boldly serve God.” So true! No one but you can give your kids a happy mom or dad. Make it a priority.
7. Be all-in in your marriage. More on this in chapter 5, but it’s too important not to include here. A healthy marriage is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. If you’re married, invest in your marriage daily.
8. Invest in things they love. Get interested in what interests your kids. If you let them play video games, learn something about the games they love. When our fourth son decided he loved to golf, the sport was foreign to Dave and me. Dave invested time into learning about the game—reading articles and studying the best players. Levi felt his dad’s commitment to him through that effort.
9. Have fun with them. Next to T-I-M-E, I would say kids spell love F-U-N! The average kid laughs three hundred times a day compared to a measly seventeen times a day for us adults. Laughter connects us and unites us. It builds memories, and it’s healthy. Most of all, having fun with our kids shows them we enjoy them, and that fulfills a desire of every human heart.
10. Give them loving touch. God made us to need physical touch, and kids crave a parent’s affection. Even as they grow up and may pull away physically, yours will still need your loving touch. I made a “hug a night” rule with my oldest son when he became a teenager, and it was a ritual I think we both needed as he grew into independence.
11. Humbly ask for forgiveness. None of us will get parenting or anything else right all the time. And when we own our mistakes and ask for forgiveness, we’re both modeling something important to our kids and showing them that we value and respect them.
Want a few more ideas? In the resource section, find a printable list of twenty-five ways to show your kids you’re all-in.
So Let’s Dive (All) In
When I go into the ocean with my boys, sometimes I just want to cool off but don’t want my hair to get wet. So I try to keep my head above the water. They always tease me when I do this, yelling, “You’ve got to commit, Mom!” and “It’s not even worth swimming if you don’t go all the way in.”
As we close this first chapter, I hope you’ll take some time to consider this:
Do you want to merely dip your toes into the parenting waters, do as little as you must until your kids are grown and launched into the world? (It’s possible to do this—in fact, it’s quite common.) Or do you want to go all-in? Give your kids your best and their best chance at growing up to be exceptional adults down the road. You won’t have all the say, we know that. But as far as your role is concerned, are you ready to go all the way in? To get your hair wet and everything?
I hope so!
I’m praying for you and cheering you on for the next fourteen chapters as we look at the most important choices parents get to make when it comes to all-in parenting and as you say yes to intentionally raising your amazing kids.
Taken from Raising Amazing by Monica Swanson Copyright © (February 2023) by Zondervan. Used by permission of Zondervan, www.zondervan.com.