PAREN(T)HESIS — Advising One Another

December 3, 2018

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

A friend posted a simple question on Facebook and received insightful answers. He asked his network, What is the best parenting advice you’ve ever received? Responses came in from his friends, who got to see one another’s responses.

Some of the parents invoked the difficult days of parenting by saying, “This too shall pass” or “Breathe, darling. This is just a chapter. It’s not your whole story,” with an attribution to S.C Lourie. I have also heard this expressed to parents, especially those staying home with young children, that the days are long, but the years go fast. (When I stayed home with our daughter, I certainly experienced long days but the “years go fast” aspect never rang true—perhaps because writing on deadlines keeps me hyper-aware of dates!)

Two commenters mentioned picking your battles. It might mean going easy on clothing critiques while being more strict on tooth brushing or nutrition. The second person who mentioned choosing what to be strict about followed that advice with “Ice cream for dinner is awesome.” Additional ways to express the concept of maintaining perspective were captured with the simple line, “Will this matter when he is 21?” and, “No one ever walked down the aisle in diapers. This, too, shall pass.” 

Another reminder of the truly important things was shared via an image. The title was “Pick two” and the handwritten image depicted three options: a clean house, happy kids, your sanity. These comments reminded me of a New Year’s resolution I made one year to make sure I worried most about the important things and let others go. As my friends and family can attest, that’s a tough one for me so I appreciated the reminder.

Another vein of thought was, “Do what works for your child, not what everyone else does.” This one reminded me of something my husband and I occasionally tell our daughter, “Families have different rules.”

I commented on the Facebook post and passed along advice that a wise woman gave to me, “What your children will remember most is your worldview.” To me, it encompasses several ideas—that you’re passing along a way of thinking, whether you intend to or not. This includes political views and if we should be wary of other people and new experiences or, instead, be courageous and curious and give new things a whirl. It extends to whether our first instinct is to criticize loved ones, neighbors, and coworkers, or to approach them with a perspective of appreciation. It even includes whether birthdays and holidays are tons of fun or events to be dreaded.

Speaking of family gatherings, I will be seeing my extended family this month and plan to ask my cousins, parents and in-laws, and aunts and uncles the best parenting advice they ever heard. Perhaps the best advice of all is to be open to ideas from successful parents who have touched one’s own life.

The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at

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