One thing that I think every parent longs for is a how-to manual. Well, maybe that, sleep, silence, and some time alone, and more money, but I digress.
How-to manuals do not exist. They don’t. I think it is mainly because every child is different so I don’t know how anyone would write one anyway.
I’ve only been parenting for over 4 years now – two boys are different then I thought they would be, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing – just different. So, where do I turn for parenting advice?
Actually, my number one piece of advice on how to find parenting advice: seek out parents whose parenting style (and kids) you actually like/respect. Find a couple who has parented well (and of course, every parent makes mistakes) and ask them to hang out with you (and your kids) and give you pointers. In our parenting careers, there are a few parenting pairs who are further along in the parenting journey than we are – that we respect them, their walk with God, and how their kids have turned out – and we ask them questions. When I’m facing a decision or a discipline issue, I want tangible advice, so I text a friend or send an email to a few moms. They are a wealth of information.
Here’s what you need to do though. If you ask a few people, and they may each give you different advice – you still have to work it out in your own home. I take in all the advice, run it by my husband, talk to him about it, get on the same page, try it out, and maybe still regroup if that doesn’t work. Everyone will give you advice on how to raise your kids – but you can’t possibly take all the advice you receive. God has given you a teammate (hopefully) in your spouse, and he’s given you the Holy Spirit. Wisdom and partnership, prayer and community.
Another helpful tool in the parenting game is books. I’m an avid reader and honestly had read most of the philosophical parenting Christian books before I even had kids. I worked in ministry with parents and went to seminary in the Christian education department. But, man, it is different applying all of those when you have kids. One book I recently have read is Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Became Parents by Gary Chapman (of the Five Love Languages fame). Through general topics, real-life experience, humor, and practical steps, talking points, and hope – he helps parents navigate through some big obstacles in parenting. I wasn’t surprised by any of his topics, and most of his advice was a refresher course, but so helpful to hear tips from someone who has been there and done that. One of the aspects of the book I like the most is the talking points at the end of each chapter. Parenting is tough. When you are talking about it with your spouse, or if you are a solo parent, with others – you are already anchored with questions to ask, or discussion questions to help point you in the right direction.
If you would like to win a copy of this book, then just leave me a comment with the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received. That’s it. Thanks to Sidedoor Communications and Northfield Publishing for the chance to read this book, give a copy away, and all opinions are my own.