Some very useful parenting advice

Sometimes the best advice comes from the unlikeliest places

I have been teaching some form of “parenting” for most of my 20 years as a post-graduate social worker. As one might guess, I have been asked countless times for parenting advice. This usually comes in the form of what’s the “most important” piece of parenting advice I have to share. As a Michigan State University Extension educator, I always tell people that there is not “one thing” that matters most or contributes most to a child’s well-being or optimal development. I also don’t always like to talk about what the “research says,” in lieu of talking about our collective experiences. Years ago, I started posing the question right back when people in my class would ask it. Here is the collection of answers I have received and recorded over 12 years of asking parents I work with in my parenting classes, what they believe is the best piece of parenting advice they have ever received or given.

  • “Be present” every moment with your child – it goes way too fast. 
  • Listen more and talk less to your children.
  • Remember what it was like to be a child yourself.
  • Choose your battles. Things are not always as important as they seem in the moment.
  • Get on the floor and play with your children when they are little. 
  • You don’t need all the fancy equipment for your baby – it’s a waste of money.
  • Spend time with you children, not money. It’s not the material things they want or need – it’s you.
  • Have a meal together every day with your family. 
  • Make mistakes and apologize when you make them. It teaches your children that no one is perfect and that forgiveness is theirs to give.
  • Don’t let cleaning or other housework interfere with the time you spend with your kids. The chores will always be there when they go to school. 
  • Spend time with them when they are young. They in turn will want to spend time with you as they grow up.
  • Listen to all their stories no matter how small or insignificant they seem. 
  • Trust your gut instinct – it’s usually right! 
  • You cannot spoil your baby, so go ahead and hug and hold them all you want or all they want.
  • Take each day as it comes and don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • There is so much wisdom in all of this advice. I have tons plenty more advice written on sticky notes or in notebooks long stored away. More than any approach, theory or parenting philosophy, the advice I have received from other parents has been the single biggest influence on my own parenting style and the advice I give to those seeking support in my classes.

For more information on parenting, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website for pertinent, up to date articles.

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