The Big Picture

While raising a family we have to keep the big picture in mind so we don't get stuck in the pitfalls & problems.
What's the big picture? Your beautiful bundles of joy growing up to be happy, healthy & productive adults, who will go on to raise their own families so you can experience the joy of being a grandparent! And guess what, the more happy families there are the better our world becomes. The loving bonds you build in your family contribute to building a better society & world.
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Stages of Life

Big Picture Checklist

1. Know your values & how to teach them across the ages.

That is easier said than done. One thing I can say is that children are the most impressionable and receptive to your values from birth to 10 years old. So be clear within yourself, know what you believe is right and wrong and live accordingly, because actions speak louder than words.

Although Sunday schools, church camps and other religious education are valuable reinforcement for helping kid's learn values, don't expect them to do all the work. Look for opportunities to discuss important topics with your kids. Let them know what you believe and why in a non-threatening way. Also, try to understand what your child values as an individual, and tie that into the larger picture of your family values.

Consider what your kid's say and how they feel before you react. If you listen to them and think about the best way to respond before you speak, they will be more likely to listen to you and think about what you are saying. Quick, hot reactions frighten some children and cause others to react similarly, which usually closes down communication. If your kid's feel safe talking to you about everything that's happening in their life, your are much more likely to be able to empower them with good values.

2. Parents need to keep a united front.Parents are going to disagree sometimes, but don't let the kid's get in the middle of it. Have regular discussions with your partner about parenting issues. Come to an agreement or find common ground so you can be consistent in raising your kids. This is also true for extended family members if they are highly involved in your children's lives.

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3. Understand what your child really needs at different ages, & how personality affects relationships.

Our busy lives can sometimes cause us to take each other for granted. Although parents usually mean well, sometimes we are not fully aware of the emotional needs of our children at specific ages. It's also easy to overlook the unique personality differences that make raising each child a slightly different experience. The more children you have and the closer their ages, the easier it is to treat them like a "group" instead of individuals with specific needs. 

 Although group needs are important (the family, the kids, etc.) we don't want to lose sight of the unique value and needs of each individual. See the pages Personality and Ages & Stages for more information.

4. Build extended family relationships & community. 

Stable families build a stable community. Get to know your neighbors & especially the parents of other kids your children play with. Get involved with your child's school and make a good relationship with their teachers. The more you are involved and know what's going on in your community the safer your kids will be. So even if you live in a big city, relate as though you live in a small town.

Children want to understand their place & purpose in the world. This learning begins at home with with their place & relationships in the family, and extended family relationships are a starting point for understanding the larger picture. Before anyone becomes a business person, doctor, lawyer, or professional athlete, they are first a child with parents and other family members who love them. From this point children gain the security, confidence, and values that will help them achieve their greatest potential in life.

5. Don't neglect yourself or your marriage.

It's so easy to get caught up in your new baby's needs or the needs of your growing family. However, to do your best as a parent you have to be healthy mentally, emotionally &
physically. Recognizing that we don't have to be a "Supermom" or "Super-dad" to be a good parent is the first step. Don't be afraid to ask for help and support from your partner, grandparents, aunts & uncles or friends.

This is another area of life where community is very important. Go out with adult-friends once a month, have a weekly date with your partner, join a ready made community like a religious organization, club or sports team, or take a class. However, be careful not to over schedule yourself and make matters worse. The object is to take care of yourself for the sake of your family, not instead of your family. It's not always easy to see the difference.