Parenthood is hard. Thankfully, these wise parents are here to make it easier with their pro parenting tips. Enjoy!
1. Raise them to survive
An ancient old lady who had 6 awesome kids told me “Don’t ever forget your child is going to be an adult. Raise them to survive”. A similar, but kind of guarded version of that, told to me by an older Jamaican woman was “let a puppy nip you, you get a dog that bite you.
2. Reading together is key
Read to your kid before they go to bed. It could literally be anything. Doesn’t have to be a kids book. This will help them spend more time with you and improve their reading skills, and I’m sure they’ll remember it when they’re older.
3. We ALWAYS love you
A great piece of advice I got from a long time friend, that helped when my son was 5, or 6, etc. was to make sure that he knows we ALWAYS love him. Even when we get mad. I taught him this regularly when there was no conflict. And when he’d get angry or in trouble and his mom and I seemed angry at his misbehavior, I would remind him and test him. I’d say, “Right now you’re in trouble and mom and I are mad. But even though we’re mad right now” and he’d reply, “You still love me.” Kids need to know that their parents always love them. Even when they’re in trouble. Parents need to know that discipline can be enforced to teach life lessons and can still be loving. My son has grown up with confidence and a respect for right and wrong.
4. No baby ever died from crying.
There will be times when you’re at your wits end and they just. Won’t. Stop. Crying.
It’s ok to put the baby down, step out of the room, and take a moment to breathe/calm down/recenter yourself.
The worst night of being a parent was the night I came home from work at midnight. My wife, in tears, told me it was my turn. Our son had been crying non stop for the last six hours. The only way for someone to calm him was to walk with him. I took over and had to walk all night after working two jobs. I couldn’t even sit in the rocking chair. Finally around 6 am he exhausted himself. I was supposed to be at work at 10 that morning but called and said I couldn’t do it. I really needed the money too. I am glad it just happened that one time.
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5. Screw your pride
Let them make mistakes. Let them win arguments if they’re right. Screw your pride.
If they break something they don’t need, don’t (Continue)
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replace it right away (when they’re toddlers and up) let them realize the consequences of their actions.
Listen to them. Even if they sound ridiculous. If they’re saying it with enthusiasm, indulge them. Teach them that what they have to say is important and that you care.
6. Having kids is a fitness bootcamp
Get in shape before having kids.
They are giant balls of energy that you will constantly have to chase after. Also, your energy levels are going to be taxed so much after having kids.
7. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stick to the plan
Do what works for you, until it doesn’t. For example, you might go into it expecting to be an attachment parent, and find out that you and your kid both hate that. Or maybe it works for awhile, and then randomly it doesn’t anymore. So I would say being willing to change and go with the flow is really important and something I wish I better understood at the beginning.
8. If you take care of yourself, you will be able to take care of others
Make sure your own needs are met first. You can’t do a good job parenting if you’re totally frazzled from being on-call 24/7. Take breaks when you need them.
This past weekend, my wife and I and both kids were ill. The 1.5 year old was super-cranky and completely unreasonable. So we broke our TV limit rule, and basically used the TV as a babysitter while we rested.
9. Sometimes love means doing the hard thing
They aren’t stupid, they’re inexperienced.
No matter what, love them. But sometimes love means doing the hard thing.
Your job is to raise them, not be their best friend.
It’s easy to forget your partner or just get stuck in a rut. Don’t. You are still people with needs. Make time for each other. Doesn’t have to be fancy, but it needs to be there.
People will want to help and you won’t want them to. Then you’ll want help but people won’t want to. Take presents, let people baby sit, eat their food, etc.
Enjoy it because it’s the most wonderful thing you’ll ever do, and once you get there you’ll realize all the anxiety beforehand was pointless, you’ll know what to do, and it’ll be great.
10. Accept help from others
Accept help when someone offers it… watching the baby so you could sleep or shower.. bringing you some cooked food. Say yes. You can’t do it alone.
Also, tell your significant other that (Continued)
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that they are doing a great job, they need to hear it.
11. Have a good cry
If you find yourself at wits end because he/she won’t stop crying and you’re crying and they’re upset and you’re upset and now it’s a vicious cycle, take a moment. Or a few moments.
Put your baby in their cot/bassinet, walk out of the room and sit down and just take a breather. Have a good cry if that’s what you need or just close your eyes and meditate. They’ll probably keep crying, but they were going to do that with or without you. And you’ll hear if something changes because baby crying is so darn piercing.
When you feel ready and calmer, go back to your baby. You might just find that once you’re calm, they might calm down too.
Good luck, you got this, and congratulations on being a parent!!
12. Let’s get practical!
On a practical note, put several layers of mattress pads/sheets on the crib. When you need to change them in the middle of the night, you just take off the top layers.
We got great parenting advice from a dog trainer, “You don’t train a dog by telling them what they are doing wrong. You train them by telling them when they do something right.”
13. Some parents say they’re perfect… those people are liars
Not every day is going to be a proud parenting day. Sometimes you’re going to lose your wits, everyone does. Any parent who’s like “I’ve never lost patience with my children and acted differently than how I wanted to” is a liar and shouldn’t be trusted haha.
When that happens, calm down, reset, and start again. The best thing my parents did for me growing up was to explain why they lost patience and talk to me until we were all good again. I now do the same for my daughter, and did this even before she could understand what I was saying.
As a parent it’s easy to slip into a role of complete control over your kids, but you have to remember that they’re people too with their own ideas and they deserve your respect just as much as you deserve theirs. So if you talk to them in a way you’re not proud of, or yell at them, or whatever it is, just talk to them. Apologize. Make expectations clear going forward and move on.
14. A most powerful lesson
Remember that your kids will learn far more from (Continued)
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what they see you do than from what you tell them to do. Your example is the most powerful lesson.
15. Better yet, children are like the CIA and NSA all rolled into one
They’re always watching.
You are their frame of reference. On how to act in a situation, on how to express themselves, what’s good to do, what’s bad to do. They depend on you, and will be in a position where they will follow everything you do partly because they don’t yet understand what you say.
16. Give them a chance to fail
Also, let them learn the hard way with natural consequences. I’m a fairly hands off parent in that if my kid gets stuck on top of the dishwasher, they need to figure out for themselves how to get down. I give them the freedom to explore and climb and go on adventures and get dirty and make art projects and I see these things pay off when it comes to problem solving and creative thinking. None of my kids are afraid to fail because I give them the chance to try.
17. Your spouse comes first
Raise your child to someday be an adult. Set the example of a rock solid marriage. YOUR SPOUSE COMES FIRST. Your marriage is the foundation of your family. Build it strong and continue to work on it. Unless there’s serious abuse, infidelity, and safety issues, work on it. This is not to say single parents can’t raise children.
18. Comparing, pictures, and thrift stores
Don’t compare your kid’s milestones to ANY OTHER KID. Even your own other kids. They will never be the same, on anything. If they are, you’ll worry they’re average. If they’re not, you’ll worry they’re “behind”.
You know your kid better than someone who interacts with them intermittently. If you have a concern about ability level, development, or anything” – talk to a professional if you can. “Friends” will try calm your fears and tell you everything is fine even if it’s not, and other people will insist anything wrong is caused by your “parenting”.
You will constantly be surprised by what your kid doesn’t know. Try to get over that. They have had zero experience with the world you live in. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
Be open and honest about your own emotions and thought processes. You can talk to them like adults much faster than you think, and it’s never too early to give kids language to articulate their emotions and feelings.
When you’re mad, hug them. Take a billion pictures of them, every day – not just when they’re little. Take pictures of yourself, with them. Get family pictures.
Learn to love thrift stores. You’re going to go through 3 different clothing sizes in one summer and they won’t even have a chance to wear half their clothing before they grow out of it. This goes triple for shoes. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY KIDS SHOES OR SOCKS.
If you’re buying them rain boots and umbrellas, make sure you (Continued)
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have those things for yourself. Jumping in puddles in the rain with your kid is awesome fun.
Find what they excel at and use it to help them navigate the world. Kids process things differently and if you can figure out their processes, you can make learning new things so much easier on them.
Let them make their own mistakes, and help them fix them. They need to learn making mistakes is part of learning and growing.
Dollar Store art supply sections are your friend. Hell, the Dollar Store in general is your main ally as a parent.
Let them own their own emotions. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to cry. They’ll take longer to process certain emotions than you do, and they’ll process other emotions so fast your head will spin. Don’t yell at them for being upset, that never makes it better. No one ever learned how to deal with anger, grief, sadness, or anxiety, from being screamed at to “do it faster”.
19. Your baby will probably look gross
Often the baby comes out blue and gross and quiet. Don’t worry, it isn’t dead. In a couple seconds it’ll pink up and cry. Also, the placenta can be really big. Like the size of a dinner plate.
20. Be a “good enough” parent
Be more aware of the behavior you are modelling and less strict with the rules you are directly enforcing. Kids learn a lot more than you think by what they see you do, and a lot less from all the intricate instructional rules you’ve set up. If you love junk food, are a chronic procrastinator, easily get defensive, or have a quick temper, don’t be surprised if your kids are the same way.
Don’t have a lot of rules, decide on a few important ones and really stick to it. Having too many rules means you will often have to bend them or suspend them for different situations and will mean lots of whining and negotiating, which is beyond exhausting.
If you get exhausted by the: “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” Stage. You can end the cycle of “whys” by responding: (Continued)
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That’s a very good question, why do you think?” or, “Let’s go look up the answer.”
Almost every book is written and published not with the goal to help you or your child, but to make money. Keep this in mind. As a result, most of what you read in books really is crap.
Follow what Donald Winnacott said about parenting — the best kind of parent is not the “perfect” one, but the “good-enough” one. The good-enough parent remains sensitive and aware of a child’s basic needs (warmth, food, emotional security) and responds to them directly. Everything else really isn’t that important and being stressed about it with your kid does more damage than good.
21. Many aspects of parenting will not bring you joy or happiness
Your children do not belong to you. They are not your possessions and their accomplishments, achievements, failures and everything in between belongs to them. Your children were born as complete human beings, and there is nothing more damaging and hurtful than to deny someone’s humanity. For some bizarre reason children are forced to endure this as a matter of course by a lot of people who ought to know better.
Children don’t ask to be born, and they do not owe you for parenting them– you owe them because you brought them here. “I was a good parent” is not a thing you get to brag about, it’s the bare minimum that the vulnerable little people in your care deserve.
Your job as a parent is not to make your children happy. Your job is to give them the skills and tools they will need to function and make themselves happy going forth in the world. That means there will be many times you will have to do things that makes them unhappy and in turn that makes you unhappy. A lot of aspects of parenting will not bring you joy or happiness. Remember it’s better for your child to experience hard lessons with the soft comfort of a supportive and safe home to lean on, rather than putting it off so the first time they experience hard things is when you’re dead and not able to help support them through it.
Don’t lose your identity. As a parent you are the first example of an adult that your child will look too- it’s healthy and good that they see you are not just their parent but a person with passions and a life beyond being mom or dad. Dating your spouse and cultivating a life together as lovers rather than just parents is not detracting from your children.
You will mess up. You will mess up repeatedly because there is no manual for how to do this. It’s ok that you mess up, in fact. But your child is watching, so when you mess up, apologize sincerely to them without precondition or excuses, and actively work to not repeat the mistake. Your child will forgive you if you are sincere and loving.
The more people who love and care for your child, the better off they are. Don’t hoard your child’s love or be possessive of it. Multiply love in their life.
It’s easy to write off the feelings of children, especially small children.. but when you diminish and mock the “little” things when those children grow older and have “big” things, they don’t trust you or come to you. If it matters and feels big to your child, you need to treat it appropriately. If you don’t consistently demonstrate that even the little things are treated with dignity, don’t be shocked that the trust you eroded and destroyed means they don’t come to you with anything.
Oh and when they’re a newborn and you can’t figure out why they are screaming their little head off in the baby swing – put that swing on full blast. I’ve yet to meet a newborn who doesn’t love the swing, they just like it going full blast. Strap em in and let it rip.
You’re gonna be washing a lot of bottles.
23. Pretty sure that’s not in any book.
Find time for your friends who don’t have kids.
External image: Shutterstock / juninatt