Parenting Tips and Tricks

2016 has been a year of ups and downs as parents. We’ve had some amazing highs and some excruciating lows but still we are standing next to our people pushing them on.

Zackaree will be 17 in 16 days and I’ve been thinking about all those parenting tips that I received when pregnant with him. Y’all, how come no one tells you that hair dye is a parenting necessity? How come no one reminds you that though you may feel like you are doing everything wrong you aren’t.

Thank God for people that keep you from climbing in a hole and never emerging again.

So in the spirit of transparency and helpfulness here is my list of things I wish someone had told me:

  1. You will live and die with your kid’s good and bad days. And, it’s okay. You are not over-anything but you are a loving parent. You care. You want the best for them, but on the bad days let them fix them or they’ll never be able to. Listen to them, share wisdom, and then send them back into the world to do better.
  2. Your kid’s mistakes are not yours. You didn’t fail and neither did they. They are learning, show them how to get up and try again.
  3. You will find places to hide from your kids and that’s okay. If they are safely inside the house and away from anything harmful it is 100% acceptable to hide in the bathroom for a time-out.
  4. The teenage years fly by faster than the infant months do. Hold on and keep your eyes open. 17, he’ll be 17…I can’t even. Guys, send sympathy cards to this Mama that will soon have to launch her oldest into the world.
  5. Your kid(s) will try and tell you they don’t care what you think but in truth they care what you think the most. This may hurt but remember that they are protecting their hearts from the possibility of letting you down.
  6. The hardest days that feel impossible will one day be looked back on as a lesson well learned and you’ll be grateful for it. Be grateful for the bad days, they hold the keys to strength.
  7. The African Proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is almost an understatement, it takes more than just the village. In a world of social media and fast paced life your village will most likely be several villages. Embrace your village. Say “thank you” a lot. Be aware that while others are pouring into your children that you too are pouring into other people’s kids. It’s not just about your village but theirs as well because your kid and their kid will eventually take on a village of their own.
  8. Sweet parent, don’t be their friend. They’ll make their own. Be a parent. Say no. Hold firm to what you say. If you tell your child that they cannot go out with friends if “x” isn’t done, and it doesn’t get done, don’t cave. They won’t die. They will live on to see another day if they are told no. I promise. My kids are still alive and I have said no many, many times. I am that kind of mean and they are welcome.
  9. Encourage your kid to be who they are. You might not get their choice in music, clothes, girls (or boys), hobbies or anything else but think of it as an opportunity to show them again how big of a fan you are to them. Don’t criticize them but rather learn about what they care about. I don’t watch The Walking Dead I try but it’s just not for me (some of it I can handle without sound) But I am for my kids so after each episode I ask for a recap, I find memes based on the show, I find articles about the show…basically I show up in the best way I can. Jim’s way of showing up is he actually watches the show with sound.
  10. They will be nothing like you thought they would be, in reality they’ll  be better. They will exceed expectations. They will clear the high bar. But even if they fall short still be their biggest fan.
  11. A bonus: ice cream, cereal, or some other form of non traditional dinner food is perfectly fine by me on the days when you have no damns left to give. Yep, I said it. I gave everyone of us permission to not only have a less than amazing day but also to not serve a healthy and nutritionally balanced meal. But if you do give them ice cream for dinner, make sure I get the credit for being the amazing friend that suggested it. Remember, I’m in your village too.

It’s safe to say that there are about a million more things that I could add, but I won’t. I’d rather you do. What are things that you wish you had been told? If a new Mom or Dad was sitting right in front of you right now what is the best thing you can say about raising good humans?


Grace: The Normal Cycle

Each of our lives have a rhythm and routine, more so when you have kids in the house, but I would imagine even when you don’t have kids there is a system to life. Because of this routine that you find and settle into you feel confortahbe just to assume things will stay along the same predictable road. Things like: your husband keeping to his pattern of cleaning out his pockets before putting his dirty clothes in the hamper or you checking his pockets before dumping the basket in the washer.

Tip #1: iPhones are not washer friendly.

I bet you can’t wait to see how this turns into more than just about an unexpected expense. But I can! Because…that’s what I do.

In the rhythms of life we turn on the normal cycle and progress in the typical. That is until the typical goes through the washer and comes out fried and useless.

Tip #2: if you have a Go All Day phone case, it will make it though the washer unscathed. 

Then your normal cycle self-sets to one of the other 9,000 pre-programmed options and your life and wash may or may not ever look the same again. Clearly this is unfortunate. I mean, who wants to step off the known and embrace a life, or in Jim’s case 3 days, of the unknown. Chaos in these situations meets you all bedazzled and ready to further see to your normal cycle being ruined.

There is good news though. We are programmed to be able to find a new normal. That’s how we survive loss. That’s how we weather storms. That’s how we handle your spouse washing your iPhone.

On that fateful day so many emotions could have washed over us. Blame could have been dispensed in equal measure but instead we found a new normal with the help of offering grace to ourself and to each other. Grace is a superhero, it saves the day. No, grace can’t fix the ruined phone or even the tilted life but it gives us a soft place to land. Grace fills the gap and carries some burden. Grace offers a new normal cycle. God gave us grace as a gift and its meant to be given and received.

So the next time you mess up or someone else messes up offer to switch to the cycle of grace. Turn the dial, and say it’s okay.