good parenting

6 A’s of Good Parenting

Parenting is all about relating. The better our relationships with our children, the better our chances at effective parenting.

Youth expert Josh McDowell believes there are 6 factors that play into good parenting. He calls them the 6 A’s.

1. Affirmation

When we affirm a child’s feelings, it gives him or her a sense of validation. Have you ever heard the old saying “Laugh with those who are happy and cry with those who are sad?” When our children are sharing their feelings or opinions, they want us to listen to them, identify with them, and affirm them. It would go something like this: Your son comes home and says, “Man! My math teacher made me so mad today; he said I wasn’t trying.”

Your instinct might be to downplay the situation. “He probably didn’t mean anything by it. Let it go.” Or, before you even address his feelings, you might be tempted to ask, “Were you trying? Maybe he had a point.” Or, “You’re a big boy now; you can’t get so upset about things.” Those are all attempts to control or fix the situation. Instead, try, “Son, I am so sorry that happened. How do you feel about it now?” Then, listen, let him know you understand how he’s feeling, and thank him for sharing his feelings. Even when we don’t agree with our children, we can still affirm their feelings and them as individuals.

2. Acceptance

When you give unconditional acceptance, you give a child a sense of security. This basically comes down to one principle that must be conveyed to our children: “I don’t love you because of what you do or achieve; I love you because you’re my child.” Our love and affection should not be based on grades, behavior, or achievements.

3. Appreciation

When we express appreciation, it gives a child a sense of significance. Appreciation is one of the most powerful motivations for right behavior. So, the more we “catch” our children doing things right, and the more we express our appreciation, the more motivated they will be to behave better. You can express that appreciation by saying something like, “Thanks for telling me the truth about what happened. I know it wasn’t easy, but I really appreciate the way you are owning and taking responsibility for your actions.” Appreciation can also be expressed by writing a short note of encouragement to your child.

4. Availability

When we are available to our children, it gives them a sense of importance. We can say all we want about how important our children are to us. But if we’re not available to them, our words will ring hollow. Sometimes, our automatic response to our kids when they approach us is, “Not right now, I’m busy.” But our children should come before our TV-watching, our hobbies, and our work. So when our kids come to us, our response should be to stop, drop, and listen. Stop what we’re doing, drop to our knees, and listen to them, hug them, play with them.

5. Affection

When we show our children affection, it gives them a sense of lovability. All children want to feel like they are lovable. If they don’t get love from you they will get it somewhere else. How can you show affection? Wink at your daughter across the dinner table. Give big hugs to your son. Develop a bedtime tuck-in routine for your children. Hold your daughter’s hand. Have a special nickname for each of your kids. Wrestle with them on the floor. Give them piggyback rides.

6. Accountability

When we hold children accountable, it gives them a sense of responsibility and self-control. Our children need the disciplines of responsibility and self-control to function successfully in life. As parents, we must create rules and boundaries for them. Once those guidelines are set, we must be consistent in enforcing them.

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: The 4 C’s of Good Parenting.

Sound off: What are some ways you can demonstrate these six A’s to your children on a daily basis?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one thing I have done lately to make you feel affirmed?”