Over the years of teaching and speaking I have had so many people beg me to write a book on parenting. And just recently someone asked me again.
I’m not sure why, and I don’t suffer with false humility when I say that. I didn’t have a mother, I had a negligent father and a psychopathic stepmother. Really, if I learned anything in my young life it was, what NOT to do.
Despite the lack of preparation I had 2 children. And I think they turned out pretty dang well. I give a lot of credit to God, my husband and my stubborn determination to give my kids what I didn’t have. Not in terms of possessions but rather in love, nurture and guidance.
So, when people ask for parenting advice I say this:
I can’t give you advice because I am not you. And I didn’t give birth to your child.
There has never been and never will be another you. There has never been and never will be another child like yours. And there never has been and never will be another parent/child combo like you have.
How can anyone tell you what to do?
Parenting is such an intimate dance between you and your child. The interplay of your personality and theirs, your heart and theirs, your history and their future cannot, EVER, be understood outside you and your child.
So, I can’t give you parenting advice.
But I’ll share some of my thoughts about parenting:
- Your child is not your possession. They are a unique human being designed by God and given to you (because He thought you were the best for the job – remember that when you feel like you’ve messed up!) for a while to discover, nurture, educate, guide, enjoy and love.
- Your child is not your ball of clay to mold in your image. They have been molded, you have to help them discover then educate and guide them in becoming the person they are.
- You get the incredible privilege of discovering (along with your child) who they are, what their unique qualities and talents are and how they can contribute to society. How fun is that?
- It is your job to make sure they know God and the world.
- It is your job to make sure they know how to relate to God, to others, to themselves and to the world in a healthy, loving way.
- It is your job to show them how to care for God, themselves and others.
- It is your job to nurture them so they grow strong and healthy not only in body but in mind and spirit.
- It is your responsibility to raise an adult, not a child. You need to raise an adult to be able to care for themselves and function in society.
- Talk, talk, talk to your child about everything!
- Love them unconditionally.
- Think of them as plants to nurture, discovering in what way they best grow instead of animals to train, corral and drive.
- Pay attention, listen and hear your child.
- You get the privilege of being able to spend 18 (+/-) years will a special human being. You get to love them, pour into them, influence them and then send them off into the world as a healthy, strong, caring member of society. What an honor!
How you choose to do that is up to you. I don’t think anyone can tell you how to do it.
Life Lessons From a Teacher…
As an added bonus, I’d like to share with you some specific advice from my experience as a teacher of 17 years. If you will help your child learn these life lessons, I guaran-dang-tee your child have an easier time in life.
- Teach them that they can’t always have what they want.
- Teach them self-control. You can’t always do what you feel like doing whenever you feel like doing it.
- Teach them to wait for their turn. (They’ll have to wait in the DMV one day.)
- Teach them to lose well.
- Teach them to fail well and how to not let failure keep them from getting back up.
- Teach them how to hold their tongue. (They don’t want to get fired because they talked back to their boss.)
- Teach them how to sit still. (Meetings!)
- Teach them how to be bored. (Meetings!)
- Teach them to share.
- Teach them to care.
- Teach them how to resolve conflict. (There is always conflict!)
- Teach them to be happy for other people’s success and blessing.
- Teach them to think about how their choices impacts others.
- Teach them to observe.
- Teach them to think critically (not negatively but to be able to analyze and evaluate)
- Teach them to take responsibility for themselves as early as their development allows. You don’t want to have to wake them up, clean up after them, do their work for them when they’re 30 years old!
Raise an adult, not a child!
You are doing your child a disservice if you don’t teach them to abide by rules and teach them how to have self-control. Think about your life as an adult. What do you have to do in the course of your everyday life? Most of us have to:
- Sit still
- Be quiet
- Control our emotions
- Control our desires
- Follow rules
- Take turns
- Wait patiently for our turn
- Clean, feed, dress ourselves
- Go to bed and get up at a certain time
- Do things we don’t want to do but we do what we have to do and often it doesn’t make sense to us but we have to do it anyway.
So, teach your child how to do these things.
And remember, don’t feel bad about setting boundaries and rules. Boundaries make kids (even older ones) feel safe. They want to know where the edges are, where “beyond here there be monsters.”
I guess I had more to say than I realized. Well, there’s my parenting advice such as it is.