Friday, April 1, 2011

Best Parenting Advice Ever?

Recently I asked “what is the best advice you have ever received about parenting?”

I got some great answers,

  • Listen to your kids, but don’t listen to their words. Instead, learn what they need by how they act and respond to you.
  • You better have a good reason to say NO. Because if you don’t, then you can say YES.
  • Say what you mean, mean what you say.

I love seeing that parents I know are attentive, realistic and let their kids make choices so they can learn from them. Anyone of these pieces of advice could easily be one of the best pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever received. In fact, I may steal them…I mean recycle.

For my family the best parenting advice I ever received was, “Enjoy your kids where they are at.” When I first got this advice during my wife’s pregnancy it really did not make a lot of sense to me. Then my little baby girl began to grow, become more independent, became at times purposely defiant, basically she changed. I don’t sing to her the same songs now that I did when she was two. And, I’m never going to get that back, no matter how I try. At this point I have pictures, videos and at time hazy memories but that little girl is never coming back. She will never need me to carry her around, she will never coo at the simplest things again, she will never again be completely dependent on her mother and me. Luckily, since I was given this piece of advice, I made sure to enjoy my little girl as a newborn, age 2, age 5, today and hopefully tomorrow.

When our second child came, we were really aware of enjoy them where they are at. But will still have to remind ourselves to follow this advice. With a second child and knowing what is to come, often we project him to where he will be and not where he is at. Sometimes I ask, how much easier will life without (cups, diapers, strollers and etc) be? In the end, I have to remember to not run past one time of his life into the next. I need to enjoy him where he is at. Today is not going to get a repeat in the future.

In 1965, the band The Byrds reminded us of the fact that things change in their song “Turn, Turn, Turn” and that there is a season for all things. Or actually, this advice can be found in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. “The teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem,” in this wisdom book doesn’t mince words and brings forth some hard realities. The fact that things change is somewhat the teacher makes very clear.

“There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace (NIV, Ecc 3:1-8)”.

Please allow me to rephrase the teacher for today’s parents.

There is a time for diapers and a time for undies.

There is a time for bottles and a time for silverware.

There is a time for dependence and a time for independence.

There is a time for VeggieTales and a time for Star Wars (disclaimer, it is possible to make these occur in the same season.)

There is a time for every stage of your child’s development from birth until they move out.

So, make sure to enjoy them where they are at. Tasks and errands will probably wait, your kids will not.

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