In this week’s Monday Minute, Liz kicks off this month’s theme of flourishing in parenting with some great tips for military families to practice parenting on the same page–God’s page!
3 Principles for Parenting on the Same Page
by Liz Giertz
I labored through the night with my mom by my side, unable to reach my better half in Iraq when our oldest son was born. By the grace of God, someone ran him down while he was checking guard towers and got him to the phone just before my contractions made it impossible to talk anymore.
He met his firstborn son nearly 12 weeks later but only spent that 14 day honeymoon period, known as R&R, with us before returning to Iraq. I spent most of the next 5 months training our son to sleep in his own crib.
Military Parents Face Challenges
We established a routine that allowed me to get him up, dressed, fed, and to daycare in time for me to fall in for PT formation. In the evenings, we did our own thing. He had all my attention from the time I picked him up until the time his eyes closed. I had bedtime down to a science. I bathed him, read him a book, said prayers while nursing, and plopped him down on his back in the crib before his eyes fully closed, giving him the chance to self-soothe.
Imagine my horror when I found my husband singing and rocking him to sleep in his arms those first few nights after the official Welcome Home ceremony ended that deployment. Truth be told, at first, I thought it was incredibly sweet to watch my handsome Soldier snuggle our infant. Right up until I realized our son was losing the ability to fall asleep on his own.
Learning to Parent Together Again
Most experts agree parents who are on the same page when it comes to discipline and training children in the way they should go are more successful. Parenting is hard enough (like running a daily marathon tough) when both parents live under the same roof. But parenting on the same page is even harder when you don’t live under the same roof for extended periods at a time.
I took off the uniform, we added a second son to the mix, and my husband has deployed and traveled for work several more times since then. Reestablishing parenting routines only got more challenging as our children grew older. Late nights, frequent training exercises, temporary duty, and deployments make it hard for military families to parent on the same page.
But God has been teaching us that his page is the most important one to be on for parenting. And when we intentionally adhere to these three principles for parenting on the same page we pass on eternally important values to our children, no matter the deployments, TDYs, or field training exercises. Believe it or not, none of them require us to reside under the same roof.
3 Principles for Parenting on the Same Page
- Communicate. Effective communication is the bedrock of parenting on the same page. If we aren’t sharing our plans and processes with our parenting partners, we have no expectation that we’ll share a common vision or execution. Without communication, everything else crumbles. Nothing is more confusing or less attainable for children than mixed messages. Parents must communicate expectations and consequences with each other and their children in a clear and concise manner.
- Balance Law and Gospel. I used to joke that, in our parenting arrangements, I was the law and my husband was the gospel. Some days that flip floppeds. But one thing we’ve noticed is we have to appropriately balance the two if we expect to maintain healthy discipline in our homes without crushing the spirits of our children. This is how God parents his children. He uses the law to point out our faults but doesn’t leave us to wallow in our messes. He sent Jesus to die on the cross give us eternal hope and the Holy Spirit to lead us in the way we should go. As parents, we ought to embrace this balanced approach, too.
- Point to Our Father. As a mother, I found great comfort in the realization that God is a perfect parent but even his kids are unruly and disobedient. Myself included. My kids have seen me mess up more than most people. And by pointing to Our Father for forgiveness, we can quit trying to pretend we’re perfect and point to Jesus who was flawless for us. Always pointing to Our Father is the way we parent on the same page and impart what’s eternally important.
Parenting on the same page
is best done by following God’s plan.
God’s promises for our children are secure and when we parent on his page we don’t have to pretend to be perfect, we just have to point to the One who is.
Dear Father, thank you for the example you set for parenting. Help us to always parent on your page and impart what’s eternally important to our children. Amen.
Verses To Ponder
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (ESV)
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)