Friday, June 07, 2013
I have been a parent for about 18 years now (counting the pregnancy, because that is definitely a stage of parenting). I have learned a lot in the past 18 years--some good, some bad. I have heard a lot of parenting advice over those years, too--some good, some bad.
You know how it goes: as soon as anyone finds out you're expecting a child, they have tons of free advice to share on how you should parent.
"Don't spoil them. Let them cry sometimes."
"Never let them cry. It's a sign of need. Pick them up."
"Never let a child sleep in bed with you."
"The best parents allow their kids to share their bed."
"Put them on a strict schedule."
"A baby sets its own schedule."
"Never use a pacifier. Thumb-sucking is more natural, and an easier habit to break."
"Use a pacifier. Thumb-sucking is a harder habit to break."
I could go on, but if you're a parent, you totally understand. If you're not a parent, this is one part of friendly advice you can be glad to have avoided!
As my kids have grown, the advice has changed. There were the comments about when to start (or not!) solid foods. Then there was the bountiful information on teething, tantrums, tooth brushing, and discipline (when/if that should begin and how it should be administered).
Now I am getting all the "teen-years-are-terrible-but-you'll-survive-it-somehow" input.
Don't get me wrong. The counsel has really been helpful in many, many ways. However, the best guidance I've ever received has been that which I sought out, not that which was doled out.
It's easy to judge others' parenting skills, isn't it? You see an unruly child in a store and automatically think, "What is that parent doing? That child needs a nap/spanking/good talking to..." You hear a mom yelling at her toddler in public and surmise, "She wants attention for herself more than she wants her child to obey."
Yes, I've done this, too. And I'm pretty sure others have looked at me and wondered at my actions (or lack thereof) in any given situation.
So what is the point of any of this? Oh, I don't know. I guess mostly that we should give each other a break, maybe? Realize that our experience is never exactly like what someone else is going through? Remember days when we've been at our wit's end with our kids, and know that others have days like that, too?
From the other side of it, don't take others' opinions quite so seriously. Remember they are looking at your situation from the outside. Truly, no one knows your children like you do. Of course, there is still really good advice out there. But don't take it personally. Weigh it, pray over it, and let the Holy Spirit show you if there are some needed changes in your parenting. Then, let the rest of it go.
Our children are a gift from God. The time we have with them passes so quickly. Let's make the most of that time, and pray for our kids.
Because if you want my best parenting advice, it is this: Pray. A lot.