Parenting Skills - Learning to Parent Ahead Every Day

The Benefits of Parenting Ahead

Parenting skills. We ALL need them.

Tips and helps to give us the skills we need to stay on top of every day family life.

If you’ve seen the post I wrote a few years back called “Mommy Rules for Parenting Ahead” then you know how much we LOVE parenting ahead.

What is parenting ahead?

Parenting ahead means that you have the parenting skills to prepare, as much as possible, for everything. every situation. every problem. Ahead of time.

It sounds lofty and nearly impossible. I know.

But it’s not.

Parenting Skills - Learning to Parent Ahead Every Day

Parenting ahead means that BEFORE you walk in the store, you explain to your kids that there will be no whining or begging. You will tell them things like, “You have $1 dollar to spend so choose something that you really want.” or “Today, we aren’t getting anything for kids. This is a grocery trip to the store.” You say things like “I expect your best behavior. No running or yelling. Stay close to us in the store.”

The 10 points that I talk about in the previous post are still absolutely the best parenting advice for parenting ahead. These tips have saved us hours and hours of “after” parenting.

What is “after” parenting?

After parenting is that stressful and awkward time when you are trying to explain to your kids IN the store that they can’t have the toy they are already holding in their hand.

Parenting after the fact is when you are at someone’s house and your kids are running and yelling and jumping on the couch with the other kids and you are trying to stop an already rolling hyper kid train.

When you could have made your expectations clear BEFORE going in a friend’s house, you are trying to parent WHILE the crazy is in session or AFTER the crazy session destroyed your friend’s new couch.

After parenting is hard, embarrassing and usually not very successful.

Trying to reason with a crying child or set expectations when they know they already broke every expectation is really, really tough.

We’ve all been there. That moment when you wish you had thought ahead to this moment and you know that yelling, fighting and crying are in your near future.

Jeremy and I work really hard to parent ahead as part of the parenting skills we focus on.

We work through these 10 parenting skills at least once or twice a day. {remember, these 10 parenting skills are for YOU, the parent}

1. Think ahead.

2. Take the time.

3. Set expectations.

4. Be intentional.

5. Be clear.

6. Don’t wait for the problem.

7. Be responsible.

8. Don’t over-correct.

9. Keep calm.

10. Know your kids.

I go into length about each of these points in my previous post. Click on the highlighted words and take a second to browse through them.

In this post, I wanted to expand on how this effects us as our girls get older.

Parenting Skills - Learning to Parent Ahead Every Day

The Benefits of Parenting Ahead

The girls are now teenagers. They ask questions about where we are going or what is happening that day. They want to know what is expected of them and they usually beat us to the conversation.

THEY think ahead so that THEY know how to behave.

Because this is built in to their family life, the girls understand the value of knowing what we expect before they go somewhere. They want to know the who, how, what and why of the day. They love getting in the car from a big day and hearing, “You girls behaved really well.” or “That was fun!”

Now that they are growing older, it is more than just behavior. Thankfully, the girls quickly recognize bad behavior and they usually work to correct themselves in situations and we often don’t have to step in.

Knowing that they understand the value of asking us questions about everything has built an incredible network of communication in our family. Seeing them put the life principles we have taught them into practice builds a network of trust for us all.

Parenting ahead flows into other areas. And we see the value of it more and more, every day.

Areas of safety and health and friendship and transition and maturity. Topics of what they watch and listen to and helping them take the Biblical life standards of our family as their own.

Looking back through our list of 10 {really 11} and praying about how God is leading us to parent from here.

Building on the foundation we have built and moving forward to parent three girls in a very difficult world.

As we move and travel to different countries, we are parenting ahead a lot and trying to prayerfully anticipate some of the things we could face in the coming months.

Going through customs, how to talk to others about our “job”, what to do if a stranger approaches them, how to act if something happens to our home, who to call if they need help, who to talk to if they are lost… the list goes on and on.

Preparing our kids for any situation, even hard situations, is the best way to parent ahead as they grow older and face real, big life moments.

Then, watching them own the process, ask questions and be a part of the parenting ahead is a strong asset to us as we walk into the teen years.

The benefits are many and parenting ahead is something I’m so very thankful that God lead us to walk in our home.

And, honestly, you don’t always know how to plan ahead. Sometimes events and situations just start to happen and you have to parent in the moment or after the fact.

As our girls get older, when these unknown situations arise, I’ve seen them rise to the occasion, pull on past moments, and ask us for help if they need it.

I’ve also noticed, that if we are parenting in the moment, the girls are more apt to respond quickly. They are also ready to love on, help and encourage their sisters through whatever came their way that day.

Do you parent ahead? Do you have a funny story from a time you wished you had given direction and ended up in an embarrassing situation?

How do your kids respond to instruction ahead of time?



  1. Thanks for sharing the skills that every parent should develop to be a good parent. Definitely giving time to your kids is one of the best thing that you can do. Now a days, a lot of apps are available that can help developing parenting skills easily. What you think about apps jenileegoodwin?

  2. What a great post! I haven’t heard of this phrase before. I can see so many instances in my parenting when I didn’t take the time to parent ahead. And my dissatisfaction or anger is what my kids reaped. I will now go and have a look at your original post to get more parenting training. Thank you

  3. I started ‘parenting ahead’ when our last 3 kids came along, one right after the other. As I started seeing the fruit of clearly describing expectations and possible situations, I took it further into preparing them for their teen and adult years. And now that they are in high school and getting ready to graduate, I am seeing even more fruit from opening those dialogues and creating a bond of trust – they know I will always tell them the truth.

    Great way to describe it – “parenting ahead”. I like that.

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