Is anything more important than as parents than raising well-rounded, physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy children? Not likely. Here are 4 parenting resolutions for the new year that will make you a better parent and your children better people.
Be There For Them
Yes, you are busy and life is hectic. But your kids are important and they thrive on attention. This is how God made them. Everyday, find some time to be genuinely WITH your kids. We are talking eye to eye conversation where you listen to them and supply empathy, as needed
As David G. Allan, editorial director of CNN Health, Wellness and Parenting, states, “Listen to them, respond, don't let yourself be distracted by your phone, or future-thinking or your own agenda. Be fully there for them, giving what they need the most: your attention, combined with an openness that encourages them to share whatever is on their mind or what's happening with them at that moment.” 
The benefits to spending focused time with our children are invaluable - from creating stronger bonds to decreased acting-out behaviors on their part.
Don't Drive Under the Influence of Your Phone
The National Safety Council estimates over 40,000 people died in car accidents in 2016. That’s a terrible number of lives lost. Increasingly, accidents are being caused by people texting or talking while driving.
Even more disturbing: A recent poll found that 51% teens reported seeing their parents checking and/or using their mobile devices while driving . Can't you hear your kids now, “What's the big deal about texting and driving? YOU DO IT!”
Your behavior serves as a model for your children. Model a behavior enough for your kids and it eventually becomes teaching.
“Once they have a license, do you want your kids texting or talking while they drive? Do you want other drivers texting or talking while driving anywhere near your children? Me neither. When you stop doing it yourself, you are immediately modeling the behavior you want from them when it's their time to be behind the wheel. And help spread this gospel to friends and family. The lives we save may be our own.” 
Yell Less, Breathe More
Admit it – there are times when 99% of us have become frustrated to the point of yelling at our kids. Here is a serious question: what does yelling actually accomplish? In my experience as a family counselor I have discovered only one benefit to yelling at your children – it makes YOU feel better. Yet this ‘feel better’ is usually a guilt-filled, very temporary ‘better’.
Yelling can be harmful. Parenting research has found that “tweens and teens whose parents yelled for discipline had increased behavioral issues including being violent. Another study linked yelling to lowering a child's self-esteem and increasing the likelihood of depression.” 
As well, yelling increases the overall family stress level for everyone.
Imagine every member of the family being stressed at the same time!
The result is a family environment that negatively effects every member – especially the children, as they don’t yet have the stress-related coping skills adults have.
Some effective anti-yelling strategies include: 
1) giving yourself a time out by walking away from the situation
2) laying down for a few minutes and breathing slowly
3) grounding your emotions by placing your hands on a surface (like a counter), feeling your feet firmly on the ground, and then counting to 10.
The goal of these tactics is to deflate your building anger, thereby diffusing a potentially regretful parenting moment. An unexpected benefit of calming down is it models for your kids how they, too, can apply your example to their own lives in times of stress and anger.
Decrease Screen Time
The research evidence continues to mount: too much screen time is harmful in all areas of your child’s life – mentally, emotionally, academically, and physically.
Some of the evidence is downright disturbing.
For example, the following article - Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? - should be a must-read for all parents whose kids use social media. Please read this article!
(I will be doing an entire blog series on this article next month).
The obvious solution to too much screen time is to have your kids (and you) decrease the amount of time they are captivated (captured?) by a screen .
I can sense the Mt. Everest-sized dread in parents at the thought of this. Making any request to our kids to deny themselves of their various screens (iphone, ipad, laptop, etc) likely will produce the same results as asking them to give up their instagram accounts for the next 5 years. Shock and outrage!
Parents - stand your ground. Some battles are worth fighting, no matter the emotional protests.
Allen makes a good suggestion - “…resolve to cut their (and maybe your) time spent staring at the digital world by 25%, or if that sounds drastic, by just 10%. Or pay attention to moments when all of you are reaching for a screen and offer an alternative instead. Who wants to play Jenga or Uno? Let's go outside for a game of basketball or catch! Lego time! Improv games! Let's read! Dance! Cook! Write! Art!” 
CALL TO ACTION!
Parenting is a challenge in these times. You have obstacles to deal with never imagined in earlier generations resulting from electronic devices and social media.
Follow these resolutions to be a more effective parent this year than last year.
Your kids are worth it.
*BE There for your kids.
*DON'T text and drive.
*YELL less, breathe more.
*DECREASE screen time.
You got this!
---dr. bill walker