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Parenting Can Be Fun—Really!

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Your children thrive on affirmation. Learn how to enjoy the early parenting years more fully.

Family Counseling Ministries -

Our society offers parents a confusing maze of child-rearing philosophies. Yet, so few of these philosophies actually seem to be effective. In the ninth segment of an eleven-part series on parenting, Dr. Dunlap offers seven helpful suggestions for maintaining the joy of parenting during the “high maintenance” years when your children are young.

Parents of young children can hardly envision the day when their precious youngsters will be leaving home to go to college, or to be married. Many mothers and fathers of adult children will attest to the fact, however, that the day will come sooner than you can imagine. It will seem like only yesterday that you had them close by your side. Do not allow the difficulty of these “high-maintenance” years to rob you of the joy of parenting these precious little ones.

4.      Help your child learn something new.

God creates children with a natural curiosity. They are eager to learn and you are their first teacher. A two-year-old child delights in catching a big ball. Catch lightning bugs with a three-year-old. Find shoe skates at a garage sale and help a four-year-old skate up and down the driveway. Attach training wheels to a small bicycle and encourage a five-year-old to learn to ride a bike. Every new accomplishment builds his or her self-confidence.

5.      Read the Bible to your child and talk about God with him. Pray together.

There are many excellent Bible storybooks written especially for young children. Remember to be considerate of a young child’s short attention span. The stories will often prompt questions in your child’s mind. Encourage children to talk about their questions with you. Remind your children often, even before they learn to talk, that they are gifts to you from our Heavenly Father.

Teach children to quote verses such as, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and “Children, obey your parents, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.” Familiarize children with the knowledge that God is our Creator and loving Father.

6.      Expect your child to obey, and discipline his or her disobedience with appropriate measures.

Seek never to discipline your child in anger. Remember to tell your child what he or she did wrong, and be certain to obey God’s command to train your child. Tell your child specifically how to fix the problem—what he or she should do differently next time. After you administer discipline, hug your child and reassure him or her of your love.

7.      Forgive your child immediately.

You are God’s ambassador to your young child. You represent His standards of discipline, and your disciplinary methods should reflect His firm lovingkindness.

Do not hold a grudge against your child. Refrain from using the silent treatment to punish his or her disobedience. Never bring up past offenses against your child. Be certain that you do not speak negatively about your child in his or her presence.

8.      Always speak about your child’s dad/mom with loving respect.

Take opportunities throughout the day to point out to your child, good qualities in your spouse. Verbally express a grateful spirit for the things the child’s other parent does for him or her. Strive to set a godly example for your child by demonstrating agape (unconditional, Christ-like) love for your spouse.

9.      Keep your promises to your child.

Do not make promises to your child that you cannot keep. Be as good as your word. Teach your child that he or she can depend on you. Expect your child to be honest and reliable when he or she makes a promise.

10.  Ask your child for forgiveness when you make a mistake, and be free with your praise.

Children will be quick to humble themselves and ask forgiveness when they fail, if their parents model the role of humility before him. Do not be afraid to admit to your child that you make mistakes. God, alone, is perfect. Find ways to praise your children every day. They thrive on your affirmation.

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