When you become a parent, you get a lot of parenting advice. Some of it’s outdated (“Mum, I know you let me sleep in a dresser drawer, but we will be using a crib”) or even hilarious (“Enjoy every moment? You mean like the one right now when my kid is screaming in the produce aisle because she wants to adopt a sweet potato as a pet?”).
Once in a while, though, you’re given advice that’s actually good. Advice that sits with you and calms you and guides you through the daily challenges of raising kids. We asked members of our Facebook parenting group for the parenting advice that has stuck with them, and this is what they said.
“Survive and advance.”
“During newborn stage, my husband’s favourite thing to say was ‘Survive and advance.’ Basically, take one day at a time. Don’t worry about anything out of your control. Feed, change, sleep. It was our mantra for our second. And his favourite advice for other new parents.” — Elizabeth D.
“You don’t have to love it.”
“This was a huge eye-opener for me. Not every part of being pregnant/having an infant or kid is fun — in fact, most of it sucks. I think too often people put on an act and make it look like it’s all all rainbows and unicorns, when really it’s a lot of poop, spit-up and crying.
“Every stage has its crappy parts. If you let yourself be OK with not loving all of it, it allows you to be kinder to yourself as a parent.” — Britt S.
“Your child isn’t giving you a hard time. They’re having a hard time.”
“My child has always had big emotions. This phrase helps me to refocus my attitude to ‘How can I help him?’ instead of ‘OMG, he’s driving me crazy.’” — Amykate C.
“This is finite.”
“When you’re exhausted, when you’re in the middle of a meltdown, tell yourself ‘This is finite.’ It’s going to end, so just take a deep breath and get through the moment.” — Jenny M.
“Always pause before running to help. This gets lots of strange looks at the playground, but it also has made for much more adventurous, independent kids.” — Clovis S.
“Take whatever parenting plan you have and throw it out the window.”
“I don’t remember who said it to me, but now I say to everyone who has their first. Things will change almost immediately.” — Eric F.
“Parenting doesn’t matter as much as we think.”
“I read an article that offered data showing that parenting is really, at best, a minimal influence on who your child will turn into as an adult. I realised my job is to help my kid figure out who he is at his core and support him in being the best version of himself.
“All the little things that I used to get myself in a panic about — what kind of diaper or enrichment activities and flashcards and standardised tests — I now put minimal effort into. Instead, I can focus on the questions: Is Drew the best Drew he can be? Am I helping him to be a functional adult and paving the way for him to grow up into the adult Drew that he wants to be?” — Julie C.
“Transitions are hard.”
“I had a caregiver who used to say ‘transitions are hard’ and it’s become my life and parenting mantra. She said it every time my babies moved to nap time, but I think it every day when I end a meeting or need to come back from lunch.
“With my kids, it helps me have more patience when they get upset because it reminds me that every movement is a shock at any age, and my kids just don’t know how to express that yet.” — Robin R.
“Give your kids your undivided attention — or no attention at all.”
“The advice in this New York Times column (“Give Kids Your Undivided Attention — or No Attention At All”) by the amazing writer Catherine Newman literally changed my parenting life, and I even included a whole section about this in my next book.
“Before reading it, I was often frantically trying to do too many things at once, and I ended up feeling stressed out and cranky. After I read that article, I made a concerted effort to do one thing at a time — either be with my kids, or ignore them, essentially — and it made parenting so much easier.” — Carla N.
“When you have a baby, you don’t become ‘a mum’ — you add ‘mum’ to your list of titles.”
“I struggled with this the first few weeks, feeling like all I was was a mum now. Don’t get me wrong — I love being a mum to my son. But I also love being a wife, friend, daughter, mentor, entrepreneur, etc. Don’t lose yourself in the motherhood journey. The same applies to dads.” — Christine R.
“Kids are just little people.”
So often, we’re imposing things on them that we would hate — rushing their timing, changing things without advance notice, telling them to get over (or worse, diminishing) their negative feelings — and then acting surprised or upset that we don’t get a great reaction.
“I know my toddlers aren’t always rational. But the more I treat them how I would want to be treated, the more I find they rise to the occasion.” — Lauren Shurtleff Graves