Childwise Principle Two: Leadership First, Relationship Later

It is important to remember that you are a parent first and friend second. Focus on parenting your child first.

Mom an daughter laughing

“Childwise Priciple #2: Use the strength of your leadership early on and the strength of your relationship later” On Becoming Childwise page 50).

There are a lot of things related to parenting that we do based on faith and trust–especially when following Babywise principles. Teaching a baby to sleep on her own is not easy. It takes months before you really see the full benefit and feel sure all of that effort was worth it. 

Guiding your child and setting limits for the young pre-toddler is far from easy. It takes months of redirections and “that’s a no” before things start to ease up at all. It usually gets much worse before it gets any better. But one day, sure enough, you start to see the benefits from all of that work. 

Doing structured activities like blanket time and independent play can sometimes require effort and patience before they are instituted. You really don’t realize the benefits of these activities until your child is at an age of comparison–usually Kindergarten–to other children and you see plain as day that your child has greatly benefited.

Similarly, reading to your child each day does not produce overnight results. Your six month old will not be showing the intellectual benefits of this regular activity. That comes much later.

What about potty training? There are few things more stressful with toddlers/preschoolers. Living on faith. And hope.

Parent First, Friend Later

This Childwise principle is another one of those things that require faith and trust.

You start life off with leading by your authority. Your child does what you say. You govern your child. As your child gets older, your influence governs your child. 

Consider–imagine–the difference in my presence in the life of Brayden, Kaitlyn, and McKenna.

Take something simple like playing with friends. With Brayden, he is at a point where I can trust him to play with friends for short periods without my direct supervision.

He can play at friends’ houses and can play at our house without me in the room. He is of course still young enough that I check on him often and talk with him afterward about things if needed, but he doesn’t need me sitting there saying, “You need to share!”

Kaitlyn does not quite have that freedom. She can be at friends’ houses for a short period. She can play with friends at home. When she does, I sit within ear shot of what is going on, but in a different room. I interfere if I feel like I need to. I pull Kaitlyn out of the playing situation if she needs to be reminded of how to play nicely.

McKenna does not go play at friends’ houses without me. If she is playing “with” a friend, I am with her, telling her things like, “take turns” and “share” and “that’s a no” and of course, “thank you! That was very nice.”

She still needs immediate supervision during social situations so she can learn how to behave correctly. She is governed by my leadership, while Brayden is governed by my influence. He has spent several years being trained and taught and is able to assume some personal freedom.

Much of this idea has yet to be realized for me. I am seeing some of the influence side, but the biggest part happens in the teen years according to Childwise. So until then, I will press forward with faith and trust that what I am doing will lead to my child choosing the right when I am not around to lead him or her to it.


Be a parent first and friend later

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