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  • Writer's pictureMike Sonneveldt

why parenting style matters when raising children

Little boy flexes his muscles

What Effect Are You Leaving? 


My routine has not changed. Most days are a combination of waking up early, working out, eating breakfast, and getting out the door. On the weekend, I may switch my work out to the afternoon. 


Lately, I have included my son in my fitness journey. Consider this a bit of my parenting style.

He has pumped up and down with body squats. I have watched his arms shake as he attempts another push-up. He even attempted a plank with me...for a few seconds. 


Mind you, my son is only seven years old. His energy and little boy interests quickly take hold of him, and he finds something in the yard or house to keep his attention after a few minutes of physical exercise. However, something must have stuck. 


They Will Surprise You 

This past weekend, my wife and I stood in the kitchen conversing about randomness when I noticed a curious sight out the kitchen window. My seven-year-old son was in the backyard, scrawny and shirtless, doing push-ups.


Not only was he doing push-ups, but they were good push-ups. He kept his body straight, he lowered himself under control, and he returned to the top. Over and over again. After that, he ran around the yard several times. 


When he noticed us watching, he shook with excitement about his workout plan. He told us how he was doing body squats, push-ups, running, and would soon be doing lunges. Even though he had watched me work out in the garage, I had never pushed or pressured him to work out on his own.  


He picked it up.

I realized my parenting style mattered more than the philosophy behind it.


While our son certainly pursues his passions, he has not gathered the discipline to actively chase after the things he does not enjoy. I was floored at the prospect that he knew it was good for him. Soon after, he stood in the kitchen with both arms raised and flexed his biceps. My wife commented that he was growing some biceps. 


You would have thought she told him he won a million dollars. He kept talking about how his biceps were growing and how much he wanted to grow big and strong. 


Later on, he bugged me to buy him an alarm clock so he could get up with me to work out in the morning. 


They are Watching You 

My son took my example and ran with it. He recognized my passion and drive for health, fitness, and discipline and built upon it. By simply including him, I imparted much more than a simple parenting style. While it may be a battle to get him to clean up, eat his vegetables, or do his homework, it was refreshing to know he enjoys the physical. The best part is he subjected himself to the lessons of getting through something hard.

And he learned something from me.


I am not a perfect father. Far from it. Unfortunately, I know that certain examples will rub off in the worst way and my son will be forced to navigate his upbringing despite my failures. However, this moment felt like a major success. And a sobering reminder.  We don't realize how important our parenting style is.


We may tell our children to do this or do not do that. But in reality, we all know that our kids learn more from watching us live our daily lives than from all the lectures we give. 


What’s the Lesson in This? 

We need to be aware of the fact that how we conduct our own lives WILL rub off on our children. As they grow up, they learn to understand the world through their parents. We carry a massive responsibility in raising our children properly. This includes raising ourselves properly. Even though our children will certainly pick up on some of our bad habits, they may also gather a few behaviors that are worth continuing. 

You might even argue that our parenting style reflects more of who we are than of who we want our children to be.


Taking the time to ensure that our own lives are in shape and orderly does wonders not just for the home environment but for our children’s futures. If they see us on the couch every night, eating junk food, drinking too much, or even just being a complainer—they’ll learn valuable lessons. Some kids may escape the cycle by going in the opposite direction, but more often than not they will pick up where we left off. 


If you want your children to grow up healthy, productive, ambitious, wise, and disciplined—then you need to model the lifestyle for them. As parents, our job description is to train our children for adulthood. We are the mentors leading them to the day when they will step out into a cold and forsaken world. If we desire them to handle the risks and dangers of the world, then perhaps their training should start now. 


Take the time to develop and transform yourself. The effort you put in today will pay dividends to the next generation. 


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