Parents have tremendous responsibilities. Each child is born into this world with an open heart and open mind. Each moment helps shape a young person’s thoughts and feelings for a lifetime.

With four children in our household, my wife Meg and I get many chances to raise young people. Each child is different with their unique personalities. Parenting is the most rewarding and consuming part of life I’ve experienced.

Here are a few ideas about parenting I’ve picked up over the last 20 years:

  1. Tim & Family

    Tim with his extended family at last year’s Mustached Turtle Dash!

    Kids need love and acceptance – not criticism and judgment – but it is a balance. Can you be a nurturing authority that sets boundaries and tolerates action within those boundaries?

  2. It is better to have positive and open relationships with your children than an oversight and monitoring role. Our children need us when they get in trouble. If they think sharing with you will get them in deeper trouble and not be helpful, you may miss opportunities before things really get bad.
  3. Keep calm and don’t yell. I’ve had my share of mad dad moments to later regret my behavior because the louder you get, the louder the whole house will be. Not a good example.
  4. In this age of computers and electronic devices, it is best to make plans and tell your kids they will be joining you rather than giving them a choice. We used to give choices, but many youth are so connected to their computers they’d rather not leave the house.
  5. Don’t spank or hit children. Nearly all mental health professionals agree that when you hurt a child it teaches them that adults are mean, unpredictable and will hurt you. Also it teaches your child that violence is acceptable when you are frustrated.
Families come in many configurations, but at the heart of all of them is love. All of us are critical parts of a larger community. If we build peace in our homes, our children and community prospers.

This blog post is written by Tim Nation, Executive Director and Co-founder of Peace Learning Center.