A note to my younger self about parenting books

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Dear 29-year-old self,

We need to have a little chat. You are so well intentioned with all those parenting books, really, you are but you’ve got to remember these are people’s opinions, not Gospel truth. Many of them have wonderfully helpful information on parenting so don’t completely disregard, but there’s something you need to know when it comes to raising kids: A plus B does not always equal C. Just because you do everything these books say doesn’t mean you will raise the perfect child or be the perfect mom. Because lesbihonest, you think that children are a direct reflection of how they’re raised. Bless. You have so much to learn, dear one. You will meet so many parents you admire whose kids are screwing it up and you don’t think this makes them a bad parent. It means that you can try your darndest to control them, but kids will eventually make their own decisions.

It’s noble that you want to get this mothering thing right the first time but for goodness sake, quit beating yourself up about it. You’re going to learn that loving your kids well has a lot more to do with how you communicate with them and a lot less to do with providing a perfect environment for them to grow, impeccable Sunday School attendance, how many sports they’re involved in, and how many social engagements they have. And rather than trying to do everything by the book, spend time in the Word. Pray for your kids. Talk to the God that made them, He knows far more about your kids than any other person who wrote a book on parenting. I wish you would do this more. I wish you were on your knees praying for God’s edification in your life because it will bleed into how you mother those little ones.

The books are great but just keep in mind that you don’t have control over how your kids turn out. Your jobs are to be faithful to what God has called you to and teach your kids about Jesus. This is what you do, no matter the outcome. God is writing their story, Precious, not you. God has hard lessons for them to learn so let them learn. Don’t shield them from everything or they will never learn how to be brave and fight for themselves. Give them a safe place to land, not a bubble to live inside. This will be hard; especially living in the community you live in where all the kids have all the things (clothes, technology, money, status, etc.) It’s a fight against defining happiness with the amount of stuff you have. Teach them that stuff doesn’t bring eternal joy. In a world that is full of bullying and greed, teach them to be kind to others and generous with what they have. This is the better way.

And remember, when your kids make decisions that break your heart, you haven’t failed as a parent. God isn’t done. Don’t lose hope. Continue to be faithful to what He has called you to.

Remember those marriage books you read while you were engaged? And remember how you laughed and laughed when you found out nothing could’ve prepared you for what marriage would be like? (Apparently no one thought it especially important to write a book about getting married 2 months after you graduate college, then getting pregnant 3 weeks after the wedding. Weird that no one thought that book would fly off the shelves.) Many of the marriage and parenting books have great information but marriage and parenting aren’t formulaic. Everyone’s different and that’s ok. You are 36 and still flying by the seat of your pants most every day. You do not have it figured out and, unlike when you were young, you don’t care who knows it. Cut yourself some slack, the kids are amazing.

Love,

Your Older, Wiser Self

P.S. The other day you got a flat tire with your kids and groceries in the car and you figured out what to do ALL BY YOURSELF! Then the next day, your debit card was stolen and you took care of it ALL BY YOURSELF! You are so tired of wearing your big girl panties but YOU DID IT! You slayed adulthood this week! You are such a grown up and you hope it never happens again because you’re exhausted.

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