I just moved the oldest of my two daughters, Matyson, into her post-college-graduation-adult-apartment in Austin, TX—about seven hours away from me. She’s officially and successfully adulting. Even though I don’t love that word. She’s a great daughter, friend, employee, and Christ follower. But I can look back at all of the angst and the arguments and slammed doors and tears during the teenaged years. I remember thinking she hated me and that I had royally screwed her up in one way or another. Of all the dreams we have for our kids, we parents only want the same thing. We just want kids who turn out okay, right?
Had my husband, Matt, and I been on our own raising our daughters, we might have ruined the whole thing. But we weren’t! We realized we don’t have all the answers our kids need. Do you feel the same way? You won’t have all the skills needed to raise your kids. Thankfully, raising kids who turn out okay isn’t all on you. You’ll need a community of Christian friends who will go to the parenting trenches with you. Our LifeGroup has been that for us. It’s crucial to have friends to pray with, share ideas with, and hold us accountable as we guide our families.
Another great partnership has been with our church and the children’s ministry there: LifeKids. Matt and I would simply find out what the girls were learning on the weekend and then leverage it at home. The leaders were always encouraging to us as parents. Today, there’s Roots, the program for 5th graders, where they’re prepared for the roller coaster of the middle school years by learning foundational biblical truths and basic life skills. (I wish we had had Roots when my girls were younger!) Starting in 6th grade, our girls started serving at church and attending Switch. The relationships they built with adult leaders in both of those contexts were vital. The other adults in their lives were truly partners with us in leading our girls closer to Christ.
I now realize there are a few specific skills Matyson developed over the years that have helped her succeed. I want to share those with you. I hope it might help you along as you try to cut yourself a break when things don’t seem to be going so great in the parenting department. Because it turns out, the basic skills needed aren’t so scary to teach your kids!
The 5 Skills of Kids Who Turn Out Okay
- They can talk to people. As in conversations. In person. What seems so normal for you and me is a little tougher for kids of the texting generation. Not only does my daughter feel more comfortable behind her keyboard, she is also an introvert. Even at age 14, she knew she needed to learn the art of conversation. It starts with knowing how to introduce yourself to someone. Then she learned that asking lots of questions is a great way to get to know someone, and it also takes you off the hook of having to be a clever conversationalist.
- They can work independently. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. As a young parent, I learned early on that what gets praised gets repeated. So any time she completed a task with excellence, started homework without being prompted, took initiative, worked out conflict with a classmate, or tried her very hardest in anything, we praised her like crazy. Today she has an incredible work ethic and has loads of drive and initiative. It’s been fun to watch as she leads those around her.
- They own their mistakes. Own your stuff. No one has to teach children to be selfish or think they’re always right and everyone else is wrong. As we train up our kids, we find that teaching them to admit when they’re wrong or apologize when they’ve hurt someone can be very difficult. We hear, “She started it!” and, “It’s not my fault!” a lot. Learning to own your own stuff is critical to a successful adulthood in relationships, marriage, in the workplace, and even in finances.
- They don’t need a maid. Teach your kids to clean up after themselves. Yes, I said it! In every way and in so many applications, this is important to becoming a successful person. It starts with your bedroom, right? Then cleaning up the spill you created. Later it becomes the car, the sink full of dishes (roommates in college don’t like this), your messy desk (bosses don’t like this), and the list goes on. Knowing how to do a load of laundry, make a bed, load a dishwasher, and keep the fridge cleaned out are pretty important relationship savers.
- They have their own relationship with Christ. For a kid or teenager, it can be difficult to carve out time to spend even with the friends and family who mean the most. Schedules are busy. Life is crazy. A relationship with Jesus needs an investment of time, too, but it can be even more challenging. Lead by example, showing your kids how to create time and build in consistency to read Scripture, have time to be quiet, pray, and maybe even journal. Showing our kids how to get to know Jesus is the most important thing we can do to help our kids build these life skills.
In fact, practicing these life skills ourselves and being consistent as we encourage, discipline, and praise our kids is the best way to raise kids who turn out okay. Be sure to reach out to your local church as you lead your kids to become fully devoted followers of Christ. If you haven’t already, download the Life.Church app, and Bible App. Seriously. They’re both helpful and free! And, if you don’t have a home church, we’d love for you to join us at Life.Church.