Parenting Matters: Become a Dynamic Parent

Children benefit from volunteering work; when they are older and get a first job, they can choose a charity to support. (Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock)
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By Parnell Donahue

In his book, “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic,” Matthew Kelly describes four characteristics that separate dynamic Catholics from “other” Catholics. While reading his small book, I kept thinking these same characteristics define dynamic parents as different from “ordinary” parents. I have adapted these principles as they apply to parents below.

Dynamic Parents Read and Study

All parents need knowledge to determine truth, because it’s truth in parenting, as well as in all of life, that sets us free. None of us come into this world schooled in child care; we aren’t born with a parenting degree.

Before good parenting habits can be developed, parents need to educate themselves. Thousands of parenting books are waiting to be read. Not all are good, some are, some aren’t.

Dynamic moms and dads dig through the myriad of parenting books, podcasts, CDs, and radio and TV shows, and find parenting styles that fit their needs. They learn, too, that parenting isn’t “one size fits all.” Informed parents treat these sources much like they treat a beautiful smorgasbord; they take what they need and what works for them.

Dynamic parents are on constant watch to avoid relativism. A thing or statement can’t be true for me and not for you. There is no relative truth!

They also keep in mind that truth is good, right, and beautiful.

Dynamic Parents Are Generous

They are generous with their time and talents as well as their money. Generosity requires patience, and it results from being compassionate and kind.

I interviewed a young man for my radio show, “Parenting Matters,” who had been instrumental in founding a local branch of a “father/son” religious group dedicated to helping fathers raise their sons to be men of virtue. He said the first thing he learned was that if he was going to teach others to be virtuous, he had to become virtuous himself.

“These eight years have helped me as much as they helped my son,” he said. Most charitable things we do have that effect; they benefit us as much as those we help.

Dynamic parents take time to help neighbors and strangers and allow their kids at an early age to participate in these acts of love. All three of my sons and their children (age 10 to 20) volunteered to help clean up Nashville after the 2010 flood. It was eye-opening for all of them. Because much of the flooded area was in the “poor” part of town, one boy said he didn’t know people could live in those little, old houses. All of the kids were changed for the better because of the work they did with their dads.

Dynamic parents contribute to charitable causes and share the causes they assist with their kids. When their teens get their first income, dynamic parents help them choose a charity to support.

Dynamic Parents Evangelize

Evangelize originally meant “spread the Gospel” but in recent times, it has a broader meaning. If we love dining at Shirley’s restaurant we become one of Shirley’s best advertisers. We tell our friends about Shirley’s and invite them to meet us there for dinner. In short, we evangelize for Shirley’s.

Dynamic parents love being parents and share with others how much they enjoy their family. They may be a bit boastful, but they want others to experience the joy that comes from having a dynamic, loving relationship with their kids at all ages, especially teenagers. Learn from them. They also share the books they’ve read, the podcasts they listen to, and invite their friends to attend the next parenting conference with them.

Be attentive to these parents and you’ll soon enjoy parenting as much as they do. You’ll know this happens when you start evangelizing the things they talked about.

Dynamic Parents Pray Regularly

Dynamic parents praise and thank the Lord, seek his help through daily prayer, and, like Solomon, pray for wisdom. Dynamic parents also show gratitude through prayer; they thank God for their parents, their spouse, their children, and for the many gifts he has provided.

They pray for peace in their home, their country, and the world; they love and pray for freedom. They find time to pray for their neighbors, their kids’ teachers and coaches, their boss, co-workers, and even those whom they don’t like. They teach their kids to pray!

If you follow these principles, you will become a great, dynamic parent, and you and your children will be more virtuous. Best of all, they will grow up to be men and women of character. Think about that, wouldn’t you rather work with a virtuous person than one you couldn’t trust? Which would you prefer to have for a spouse, a liar or a person of virtue? Wouldn’t it be a great world if we were all more virtuous?

Enjoy the children in your life, and may God continue to bless you and your family!

Dr. Parnell Donahue is a pediatrician, military veteran, author of four books, and the blog ParentingWithDrPar.com, and host of WBOU’s “Parenting Matters” show. He and his wife, Mary, have four adult children; all hold doctorates, two also are MDs. Contact him at Parenting-Matters.com

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