Respectful parenting is all the buzz these days. Contrary to some opinions, it’s not a passive approach to raising kids. Let me explain…
As a dad, one of my biggest fears has involved missing “it.” When I became a first-time dad, my fears were centered around my son’s health. Because Riley was premature, those first few weeks were really tough. After he was home, it didn’t get much easier (though somehow we thought it would).
It was still tough. We were those parents who took their kid to the doctor for his first nose drip. We were those parents who watched the monitor all night at times, trying to protect our newborn.
Eventually, we worked through that. We trusted God and still do.
Lately, though, the thing I caution myself against is missing “it.”
By “it” I mean the experience of being a dad. The joy of watching my boy grow up. The fun moments as well as the tough ones. When he experiences firsts and when he chooses the right thing. When he has fun and when teaching moments pop up. And when it’s just him, his mom, and me. When he’s just being Riley.
I don’t want to miss those moments. So I’ve been thinking about some ways to help me not miss them. Here are a few ideas I’ve had along the way. To me, they encapsulate truly respectful parenting.
3 Essential Elements of Respectful Parenting
Put down your phone. That’s a real struggle for us millennial parents (and even for baby boomer grandparents, from what I witness). I don’t just mean taking pictures. That can be a good and fun thing. I’m talking more about those times when Riley wants me to play and laugh. He wants my attention, but my phone has it instead.
So I’ve started to drop my phone. Even drop it a long way from arm’s length so I’m not tempted. I don’t want him to see the Apple logo on my phone when we’re at home more than he sees my smile.
At times it’s okay to not be talking to my son. I get that. So I tell him the world revolves around something but it’s not him (that’s good ol’-fashioned parenting!). I don’t have to always be talking with him. Yes, at times he can watch Paw Patrol on the iPad in peace. It’s important that I interact with my child on his level, though. That I talk about what they’re doing on Paw Patrol. That I play with him even when I don’t understand what I’m playing.
The other day, I had a fire helmet on my head, was holding the back of a baseball bat, and making a “swoosh” noise for reasons I still don’t get. This interaction is important to my son’s development. And it’s important to me…that I get “it.”