No one ever said parenting was easy … but when you’re expecting your first bundle of joy, the anticipation and nervousness for all that is to come can be overwhelming. And it doesn’t help that, quite frankly, your loved ones (and the internet) are often full of well-meaning but terrible parenting advice.
Ask any parent about the worst advice they’ve ever received and they’re sure to give you a long list. Luckily, you’ll also receive some wonderful advice you’ll always treasure. And that’s what you should remember as the years go by.
Different approaches with the same goal
It’s important to remember that we all have different parenting styles, and children all respond to things differently. What works well for one won’t work at all for the other — and if you have more than one child, you’ll probably have to parent them slightly differently. That being said, we all want our children to become healthy, happy, productive adults, no matter how we parent them when we’re young.
Some good advice in general is to take each piece of parenting advice as you see fit — whether you live and breathe by it or totally ignore it is up to you.
Four little words
When your blood pressure starts to rise or you feel as if your child is getting the best of you, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and say to yourself: “I am the mother/father.” These four little words will instantly center you.
This advice came to me from a teacher, often she has to close her eyes at school and repeat: “I am the teacher.” Apparently this is quite common with educators. You can’t always control what your kids say and do, but you can control how you react. It’s important you remember that you are your child’s everything, from their cook to their protector and guide.
Write it down
It’s nearly always other parents that will suggest this to you, but it’s true: Your little one will be little for a very short time, and they’re going to say some hilarious and adorable things. Write them down. You won’t be sorry.
Take the trips
You’ll have many times where you’ll question whether it’s worth spending the time or money to take a vacation. But the thing is, you only have so many years with your children, and traveling with them will leave lasting memories you’ll all cherish. Hands down, one of the best things anyone ever said to me regarding parenting was “Always take the trips.”
Start traditions and rituals
A ritual is a routine with meaning, and young children love them. Traditions can be anything from annual holiday celebrations to something you make up, like decorating a new Christmas tree ornament together every year or even having waffles for dinner every Sunday.
Family traditions will nurture your togetherness — and besides, they’re really fun.
The best advice of all
It’s hard to narrow down one piece of parenting advice that tops them all. But when I was newly pregnant, my best friend, a mother of two, told me to keep my child’s heart close and to nurture that little soul. Basically, she explained, if you always guard your kids’ hearts, they’ll grow into adults who still need and want you in their lives. They’ll stay close to you because you kept them close.
As children go through the phases between babies and adolescence, they change a lot. But one thing you can always be consistent with is your love and support. Keep those little hearts close.
Whether you’re just considering becoming a parent or you’re reading this with a baby in your arms, just know that advice will come and go, but you’ll have a strong intuition when it comes to your child. Parenting books are helpful, parenting blogs are hilarious, but all that really matters is that you do your best for your little one.