10 Parenting Tips

09 Aug

I am not a parenting expert.  No one is. Parenting is a different animal. No other job in the world’s like it! There’s no manual or college degree. You are never “done” learning. Even parents of grown children will attest to that. No one, however successful, can truly claim to be an expert.

That’s not to say that we don’t know a thing or two about parenting and can’t learn from each other’s experiences. In fact, I’ve learned more from my mom friends/sisters, throughout the years, than any parenting books combined.

I’ve learned that you have to tell and show your children you love them, no matter what they do or say. Also, sometimes, you have to make the tough decisions, even if it doesn’t make you popular with your kids. Ultimately, you’re the parent and you have to look out for what’s best for them.

Here are some other nuggets of wisdom for new moms:

1.     If at first you don’t succeed at breastfeeding, DON’T GIVE UP!  It’s a myth that it’s an instinct and a newborn automatically knows how to do it. It’s a learned behavior, for both of you. What helped me was a supportive husband, who encouraged me to KEEP TRYING. Also, I rented a pump and fed her breast milk in a bottle, but alternately, I kept trying to nurse her and then – hallelujah – she nursed! I wanted to scream “SHE DID IT!” out her bedroom window.

2.     Learn to “read” your baby’s moods/cries/cues. One thing that helped me was to write down eating, sleeping and even BM patterns. The patterns help set the rhythm of our day. For example, if I knew it was getting close to the time that he or she was going to be hungry or over tired, I didn’t go to the store at that time.  It gets easier as they get older too.

3.     Surround yourself with other moms of similarly aged children. It really does take a village to raise a child! Not only is it a sanity break for a new mom, who wonders if she’s the only one who stayed up all night, but it’s also a great social time for the kids. I formed a playgroup when my firstborn was a year old and it lasted several years. I also joined La Leche League, a breastfeeding support group.  It helped to know, at the very least, that I was not alone and “this too shall pass.”

4.     Take babies everywhere with you, whenever it makes sense – grocery store, restaurants, etc. They learn what to expect and are more likely to behave because they are used to being there. Generally, they get accustomed to the places and it gets easier each time.  Of course, a lot has to do with the timing and there will be times when they are fussy and didn’t take that nap they needed to beforehand. I’ve been there!

5.     Make your home a haven – a safe environment for everyone. This means you teach and model alternative ways to solve problems. You make it clear that violence is not accepted in your family.  It goes without saying, but I will anyway, this means you are NEVER violent.

6.     Start family togetherness activities when they’re young – whether it’s playing games, gardening, reading, listening to music or chilling out together as you watch a movie. When the kids were little, during cold winter months, we’d have special days that we’d check out tons of library books and videos, come home and have an “inside picnic”. When the kids were older, we started “family pizza & movie nights” once a week. At one time, I thought they outgrew this, but I discovered that even as teenagers, they still enjoy it.

7.     As the mom, you set the tone for the family. Even if you wake up in a crappy mood, smile at that baby as soon as he or she wakes up and “fake it till you make it”.  Even little ones can sense your mood and will look to you for the lead.

8.     Your child will learn to read, when he is ready. There’s a lot of pressure for parents to teach their kids to read and some parents get frustrated when it doesn’t happen immediately. I know it’s hard, but you have to chill out. There are some things you can do, but ultimately, they read in their own time.

9.     Many people say sibling rivalry is a natural part of growing up. Fine, but it doesn’t mean you have to let it escalate. Each family is different and I can only attest to what worked for us. I spoke to each child separately about their behavior and how to solve things differently. I stopped any potential violent behavior. I encouraged each to love each other, but at the very least, they had to respect each other. This was a trying time for us, but we got through it and I think mostly because of nothing I did. Simply – they matured.

10.     As a parent of teenagers, I’ve learned to “ride the rollercoaster” of their moods. It’s happy one day and not so happy the next. It’s not easy, but you have to be strong enough for everyone. It’s a lot like a tug-of-war. You pull them in. They pull back (independence). This too shall pass.

Oh – and if your child is lost, you DO NOT treat this lightly. You DO NOT wait 30 days or even 30 minutes to report it.

LOVE YOUR CHILDREN! They are God’s gift to us.


Posted by on August 9, 2011 in Family, parenting, teenagers


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10 responses to “10 Parenting Tips

  1. doyourjob

    August 9, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    Love #7 – if you sit back and watch, on the days you feel chaotic : so does the rest of the family. It’s a burden to carry, but worth it in the end. I think 🙂

    • Maggie Wunderlich

      August 9, 2011 at 7:24 PM

      Thanks for stopping by in my corner of WWW. I appreciate your comment and totally agree with you.

  2. F. Willoughby

    August 11, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    Nice article, Maggie. 🙂 You’ve touched on some great points.

    5. This is a very important point. You’re right – violence should never be accepted in your family. What if your spouse is violent? What should you do then if your children don’t feel safe around your spouse?

    7. Another good point and is a practice that parents, not just mothers, should keep in practice as their children grow up. Children are very much in tune with their parents’ moods. What do you recommend parents to do if you know you’ve had a bad day and have accidentally gone off on your children without reason?

    One point I think you’re missing is the issue of communication. As a parent, it is important to encourage your child to learn how to listen to your instructions and words. But it is also crucial to demonstrate the same willingness to SHOW how you expect to be listened to. That means paying attention to them when they speak. If the parent doesn’t demonstrate good listening skills, how should we expect them to do the same in return to us?

    Raising teenagers in particular is difficult because communication is not always there. Teenagers don’t believe parents understand them, parents don’t understand their teenagers. If there is no communication going on, you’re going to constantly butt heads and it’s never going to get better no matter how long you “ride the rollercoaster.”

    My son and I constantly used to fight and I could not understand how he could resent me so much. However, when we had a third party mediator help us talk through our problems and issues we had with each other, it opened my eyes to understanding my son’s issues and respecting him and his feelings. In return, I think he was also able to understand why I try to make him do the things I want him to. Once a compromise of understanding hit, our relationship made a 360 degree turn.

    Communication is an important foundation for any relationship, whether between partners, parent/child, and friends.

    • Maggie Wunderlich

      August 11, 2011 at 9:10 PM

      Thanks Fred. I’ve always been a firm believer that communication is key for a relationship to work, including the parent/child relationship. You’re right – I overlooked including this on the list. As far as the violent spouse situation — I can’t tell anyone what to do but I don’t believe in staying with a violent person and would never subject my kids to it. As far as the bad day situation — I’d apologize to the kids for the outburst. Kids see all sides to us and know we’re human and slip up sometimes, but we have to own up to it and tell them we’re sorry if we blow up at them for no reason. I’d recommend you try to prevent it from happening in the first place and give yourself a “time-out” — go scream in the closet or bathroom. Thanks for sharing your experience with your son.

      • F. Willoughby

        November 9, 2011 at 10:51 PM

        What about verbal or emotional abuse at your child from your spouse? Would you stand up for your child then?

  3. Alex Diaz-Granados

    August 12, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I have to agree with you when you say that no one, not even the late Dr. Benjamin Spock, was or is an expert in parenting. There are so many variables involved – the various personalities involved, family histories, economic factors, cultural differences, religious traditions, etc. – that there’s no “one size fits all” style of parenting.

  4. Michelle

    August 29, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Great article, Maggie!

  5. The Blog Entourage

    September 13, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Congrats! You’re a Top Blogger at The Blog Entourage this week!:) Keep up the awesome blogging.


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