I recently visited Washington, D.C. and ate the most delicious cupcake I’d ever had in my entire life. Not only did it taste amazing, but it was also cleverly wrapped. Later, as I wondered about what made that cupcake such a standout, I concluded that the baker must have figured out just the right ratio of the essential ingredients. When it came to cupcakes, he definitely grasped what really matters and it led to something very tasty!
So what are the essential ingredients in parenting? What really matters? There are three, and if we can include these elements in most of our parenting, we’ll make huge strides in getting this mom thing right. It can be tricky to get the right ratio, but just like baking that cupcake, it can be done. Here’s what matters most in parenting.
The ingredient that we must mix in throughout our parenting is wisdom. That means that we must be wise to exercise wisdom. To become wise, we have to base our beliefs on something worthy of guiding us. For me, it’s my faith. As I compare my parenting and the way I live my life to God’s standards, I can be pretty clear on whether I’m acting wisely or not. Of course, parenting experience will add to our wisdom too. A wise mom learns from her successes and her failures.
So how does wisdom show up in concrete ways? It’s in how we speak to our children, how we discipline our children, and how we guide our children. And the way we live our life — wisely or not — will impact our children’s abilities to make wise choices because they are watching us. If we make wise decisions, they’ll have a pattern for making wise decisions. We are their instructional, real-life video for how to function in this world.
If wisdom is the actual cake of parenting, kindness is the icing. Kindness is what softens and sweetens our wise instruction. Kindness is what draws our children to us. Unkindness will turn them away from us, and whatever wisdom we’re trying to impart.
Kindness is evident in our patience with our children, and in our apologies when we are impatient. It is seen when we discipline with firmness, instead of harshness. It is having expectations in line with the age and abilities of our children.
You probably knew this was coming: love is the wrapper that holds the cupcake, the wisdom, the frosting, and the kindness together. If our kindness and our wisdom are encompassed by a wrapper of love, we will have the essentials of what really matters in parenting.
And love isn’t just the immense feelings we have for our children, it’s what motivates us to do all we do as moms, and to do it cheerfully. Love is what helps us sacrifice and continually make the choices that are best for our families. Our children’s future will be better and more secure if we focus on them more than we focus on our phones and iPads, or anything else that threatens to distract us from realizing that the most important thing in our lives is to give our children a stable, peaceful home because children get only one chance at a happy childhood. Even though love is the essential motivation for what really matters in parenting, without wisdom, love can actually lead us to make some pretty poor decisions. For example, love without wisdom leads us to give our children what makes them happy, even if it’s not best.
Our children’s future will be better and more secure if we focus on them more than we focus on our phones and iPads.
If we can make sure that our parenting includes these three ingredients, everything else, as they say, is just icing on the cake. So now that we know what really matters in parenting, take the pressure off of yourself to provide the “extras” — the material things that matter so much less.
What about you? What really matters in parenting in your life?