From the moment you find out you’re becoming a parent, everyone has a word of advice for you! When well-intentioned and from someone you trust, these words of wisdom have potential to shape and direct the course you take.
But if you look to social media or Google for your advice, you’ll be overwhelmed with the results!
So, how do we discern what advice to take and what to cast aside?
In Episode 5 of the Parenting to Impress Podcast, Heidi and I chat about the Advice We’ve Learned Along the Way, much of which was pulled from a previous blogpost Heidi shared entitled “What I Wish I Had Known as a Young Mom.” Interestingly, as we looked at the list from many years ago, we found not much had changed.
Why? Because the advice was weighed against the Bible.
And again we asked the question, “Will this advice help me love God through obedience and love others, and raise children who will do the same?” Because God doesn’t change, the advice doesn’t need to change either.
In this 3-part series, glean wisdom from the first 7 pieces of advice (in no particular order) we’ve found valuable in our combined 36 years of parenting.
▼ Jump to Listen to Episode #5: Advice We’ve Learned Along the Way, Part 1 ▼
Advice #1: NEVER SAY NEVER
James 1:26 tells us to keep a tight rein on our tongues. God knows that our mouths can get us in a heap of trouble! This first piece of advice hits two-fold.
First, when making idle threats or sweeping statements like, “If you hit your sister one more time, you’ll never get to ride your bike again,” we are teaching our children that our words cannot be trusted. Be sure that you can follow through with a consequence before issuing it.
Second, it is easy to make blanket statements that we will never allow our child to do or say x, y, or z. Heidi’s journey includes kiddos living with Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, and Autism. There were several things that prior to having kids she said she’d never do, but that all changed as she learned to parent her precious kids in the “way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). It can be very humbling to have to swallow our “never,” but God leads us through the parenting journey to love how He loves!
Advice #2: TAKE TIME TO LOVE
No one has to tell us to love our children, but in the midst of busy days, loads of laundry, piles of dishes, and activities to get to, we often forget to slow down and take time to express that love to our children. And as shared in the podcast episode, there are times when misbehavior from our children is simply a cry for some time with mommy.
When this happens, call your child over to sit with you on the couch for a quick snuggle, tickle time, and encouragement. Engage with your child, and make sure to take the time to verbally and physically express it.
Advice #3: DISCIPLINE IN PRIVATE
This one is hard. When a behavior situation arises in public, it can feel like the only thing to do is take care of it right then and there. But Heidi and I would like to encourage that for everyone’s sake, it’s best to find a quiet, less public space to deal with the issue. By removing the audience, you can calmly handle the negative behavior while preserving your child’s dignity.
Advice #4-5: While My To-do List is Important, It ISN’T AS IMPORTANT AS I THINK
“She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness,” Proverbs 31:27.
God intends for His people to work and not be careless with their time. We are to be good stewards of our homes and wisely take care of our husband’s and children’s needs.
But when our to-do list supersedes the needs of our children and we put tasks over relationships we end up steamrolling those little hearts in the process.
I remember how the demands of motherhood and keeping up the house turned me into a taskmaster instead of a mother. I spent most of my days barking orders. My anxiety from the clutter and messiness lead to a heart-to-heart convo with God.
What could I let go of and still function happily in my home? With time I was able to find a rhythm of housekeeping and mothering that allowed balance – what needed to be done while providing for the needs of my family.
Advice #6: READ, READ, READ
Reading good, quality literature with your children has lasting effects not just for their intellect but for their heart! When you spend time reading together you are inviting your child into a greater conversation – about who they are, about the world, and about God. Reading creates a bond now and a legacy of reading that she’ll carry with her forever.
But, please understand that not all books are created equal. As stated above, choose quality literature. Click to discover lists of “literacy gold” – top children’s books that promote imagination, comprehension, pre/reading skills, pragmatics, and vocabulary learning.
Advice #7: Evaluate Your Expectations for Mommyhood and Yourself
We all have expectations – of ourselves and others – but how often do we pause to consider if they are realistic or best for everyone in our family?
Unrealistic and misguided expectations will ALWAYS lead to disappointment. So how do we avoid this pitfall?
Evaluate your situation and ask, “Will this decision help everyone in our family be successful?” For example: joining a playgroup that meets during your children’s naptimes. Frequently missing naps can put behavior expectations on your children that they cannot meet due to exhaustion. Ask God to help you discern if your expectations need some adjustments.
Also ask yourself, “Are my expectations a result of comparison?” Am I looking around at other moms to decide what’s good for my family? Comparison takes our focus off the family God gave us and distracts us from being intentional with our days. Take those comparisons to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to show you what is right and good for YOUR family.
Time to Weigh the Parenting Advice
As we stated, weigh all advice against the truth of Scripture. How do these 7 points measure up?
Parenting Advice #1: Oftentimes pride is at the base of absolute statements. In I Corinthians 13:1-8 we learn that pride is not loving.
Parenting Advice #2: Matthew 22:36-40
Parenting Advice #3: Respecting others is love (I Corinthians 13:1-8, Ephesians 6:4)
Parenting Advice #4-5: Proverbs 31, Colossians 4:5, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Parenting Advice #6: God tells the Israelites to teach their children about God and His commandments (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Part of teaching our children about God is teaching them how to read, comprehend, and decipher the words they read.
Parenting Advice #7: God has a specific plan for each one of us (Jeremiah 29:11). We need to make sure our expectations match His plan for us and our families, not the Jones’ next door.
Seven pieces of advice that you can immediately implement. Join the private Parenting to Impress Facebook group where we will be diving deeper into each of these! Then join us in two weeks when we will release Part 2 of this godly advice list!
Listen or read more on Part 2 of the Advice We’ve Learned Along the Way series.