The Three Most Useful Pieces of Parenting Advice I’ve Ever Received

As a younger mom, I was eager to figure out this whole motherhood thing, because this was one eventuality that was never in my plans. Some girls dream of the day they’d be moms. I didn’t really give it much thought until panic settled in when taking home a new baby for the first time. I felt ill prepared for this, so I needed to study up.

I soon found book after book of parenting that all had contradictory information in it, though they all made sense. Ugh. Not helpful.

Finally, I realized after reading in Titus 2 (in the Bible), that younger women are supposed to look to older women to learn more about loving their husbands and children, keeping house, and so forth.

To me, that made, even more, sense, because you could see the life of the person you’re asking for advice. I spied out a few women to ask for advice, and I did so. Over the years, they’ve helped me apply specific wisdom to specific situations, or to figure out solutions to issues. Local help is very handy to have.

As I drove to Tennessee last weekend, I was thinking about this. In the backseat was my son, now 17, and we were dropping him off to work at a campground for a month. I’m not sure if this would have happened if it weren’t for useful pieces of advice #1, 2 and 3.

“Point them to a relationship with Christ not a set of rules or religion”

I talk about this a lot, especially in my book Quiet Times in Loud Households. If we want kids to walk in the fruit of the Spirit, what they need is the Spirit, not more rules. A religion or a set of rules never truly created a lasting change in anyone. A relationship with Christ however always does.

“Raise your kids in such a way that you still like them when they’re 14.”

Sometimes it makes me laugh. But I think the reason why this very general piece of advice works is because we don’t see the forest for the trees when the kids are younger. This piece of advice was a way of saying, “That kid isn’t going to be two forever. Someday he’ll be an adult, and you’ll want him to be a great adult, as much as he is able to be.”

As much as we could, we always tried to ask ourselves, “What kind of adult are we making here with this course of action”?

There were mistakes, of course. And what I could say were wrong turns. But in generally, eyes on the long term goal was helpful in guiding us through different crossroads.

“The Time to Tighten Down is when they’re young, then slowly let go the older they get, as they prove themselves trustworthy”

I loved this piece of advice. It made sense to me from many different perspectives, and I felt it was very Biblical too.

I realized that most of my friends who ever rebelled, including me, was when a parent treated them like a child when everything within them was saying, “I’m an adult now!” (even if they were 15).

Those teen years are a weird time. As Paul wrote, it’s a time of “putting away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13), but yet it’s also a time when you are still under your parents’ authority.

I have felt a huge sense of pride and trust, through a little bit of apprehension too, in this summer job four states away from home, just as I did when my oldest daughter was a mother’s helper for a few months all the way in Virginia. But, that’s part of the learning process, right?

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