The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Parents

Croyle JanEssential practices for raising strong, stable kids.

by John Croyle


Several years ago, Stephen Covey wrote a book titled The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I have not actually read the book, but I have heard really good things about its content. The title of this book got me thinking. In parenting our children, we develop habits, too. Sometimes they are good, but regrettably, they’re sometimes bad. If I were asked to list what I would consider the seven habits of highly successful parents, what would they be? Here are the habits that I think are essential to raising a quality young man or young woman. 


1. Love your children unconditionally. You must love your children no matter what—and they have to know that you do. When they’re good, it’s easy. It’s when they’re being hard-headed and difficult that the true test of our love is administered. To be quite honest, when you feel your children don’t deserve your love is when they most likely need it the most.


2. Be consistent. So many times we as parents are inconsistent. One thing every child wants to know is where the boundary markers are. Sure they’ll test them, but they must always know where they are and that they are not going to move. Difficulty and instability arises in your child when the boundaries fluctuate. An example might be when your little 4-year-old boy says, “Oh shut up, Mommy!” and everybody laughs when it’s just family. But then when you’re out in a crowd or in public your little boy makes the same statement that the day before was funny and he gets reprimanded, disciplined, and even spanked in front of strangers. Talk about sending an inconsistent message!


3. Be firm and be gentle. Sounds contradictory—but just think about the song “Daddy’s Hands.” Sometimes it takes those “hard as steel” hands to correct a child when they have done wrong—but don’t forget that those same hands need to be “soft and kind” when your child is going through a tough time. It will take your parent’s intuition to be able to discern between those times.


4. Be fair. So many times we aren’t fair in our expectations. We might hold our 12-year-old son to the same standards as we do his 16-year-old brother. Those four years make such a difference! However, treating a 17-year-old like he’s 11 will create a whole different set of problems. Make sure you set expectations, but make sure they are attainable.


5. Treat your spouse with love and respect. Dads, your son or daughter will watch the way you treat their mama. Moms, your son or daughter will watch the way you treat their daddy. You are teaching them what to expect out of their future mate, and you are teaching how to treat their future mate. You are setting the standards for them now and in a lot of ways determining what kind of marriage your children will experience.


6. Never lie to your child. When your children lose their trust in you and the credibility of your word, their respect for you will immediately follow in the same footsteps. The greatest way to build an honest, deep relationship based on trust and honesty is to admit when you have messed up. Go tell them you messed up, ask for forgiveness, and move on. Children have an unbelievable ability to forgive when their parents have been stupid. Many times, I have had to go not only to Reagan and Brodie (our biological children) but also to many other children and ask for forgiveness when I didn’t do something right or maybe I didn’t have all the information and got the rest of the story later and I had to apologize for handling the situation incorrectly.


7. Teach your child about God and eternity. Remember this truth—you can’t lead your family someplace you’re not going. I strongly urge you to show them the right path by walking it yourself. There will be times in your life when you might be mad at God for something that has happened. The way you react to the situation will strongly affect their view of God. I’m not trying to be “preachy,” but I’m challenging you to be wise. And please know that simply attending church on Sunday is not what I’m talking about. Living a life of faith in front of your children on a daily basis is the greatest way to secure their eternal destination.


As you and I begin 2015, let’s all do a better job of developing these habits and getting rid of the bad ones. Then we will raise children who are strong, stable, and secure adults. They are counting on you!

One Response to “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Parents”

  1. Janie Johnson says:

    Just wanted you to know that we have kept up with your efforts for years, and admire what you have done. My husband and I are so sad that we didn’t go to you when we needed a place to serve back in 2008. Instead, we served at the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes, Mobile campus.
    Our ministry to the children that were in our care, and thier families was rewarding ( for 19 months.) The time with Bobby Joe Smith was excruciating to say the least.
    I watched a video on one of my friend’s timelines, and my heart just melted. No photo opts, you can hear it in your voice. Your deep concern and committment to convey the Love of Jesus was very evident.
    Thank you for all that you do.
    We are going to try and convince our Church to include your ministry in our Church budget as soon as we start planning for our new budget in August.
    Keep “loving them like Jesus!”
    In a Him,
    Janie Johnson

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