My Best Advice...
We’ve asked six parents of different generations to share with us some of their best pieces of advice. We love what they’ve written, and really hope you find some encouragement for the journey.
The best piece of advice I have ever been given is that 'every child is different and what I soon realised: 'every mother is different'
I'd read a number of parenting books before I had kids, and so when my first child was born and she refused to feed, I interrogated myself. What was I doing wrong? How could I make things better? Why was I failing my baby? I put an unhealthy amount of pressure on myself. I'd tried everything in the book, everything on the online forums and in the end with that piece of advice I had to surrender and accept that every child and every mother is different and while it didn't work out this time, this may not be my story for future babies.
In parenting, there are so many opportunities for anxiety to come in, and the not good enough's and the 'you're doing it wrong.' I believe God wants a different narrative. Find what works for your family, co-sleeping or crib sleeping, bottle or breast and trust that you with the help of God know your baby best! The author of the parenting books will have experience of the babies they have looked after but NOT yours! It will be different from the next family....because guess what...God made everybody differently!
Megan Landreth Smith is a wife, mother of two and member of the NPI team
Some of the best advice I’ve had for parenting primary school children came from the Parenting for Faith Course. A key thing has stayed with me is to give the children windows into our own walks with God. That has meant leaving the door ajar during my quiet times and not minding if they wonder in. When we’re in the middle of things and I’m prompted to pray for something or someone, I’ll often pray out loud. I try and let them see as much as possible of what it looks like in practice to walk with God, so they see it’s a normal and natural part of everyday life.
Another piece of advice I’ve held onto is never to criticise the church in their hearing, and I think that can be extended to their school. Church and school are such important, formative environments for them, and as we talk about and celebrate what’s good about them, big up their teachers and friends, it helps them engage positively when they’re there. They spend such a huge proportion of their waking hours in those places, may they know that they are good places to be.
Ellen Hunter Smart is a vicar’s wife and mother of four in the south west and is enjoying all that that entails!
Like all good advice, it’s so often passed on from those who’ve been there before us and that’s certainly true for my husband and I when it has come to parenting our teenage kids. Just when you think you have some sort of idea of how to parent your children, this whole new teens-phase begins which is of course exciting, but also unfamiliar territory and brings about change in them and you. First, regardless of age, never stop encouraging your kids and calling out was in good in them, but this has new poignancy for teenagers who can so easily have struggles with self-esteem.
Second, we were told that the teenage years are like going into orbit for your kids, but they do ‘land again’ so be patient and be there for them, ready for conversations at any time of day!
Third, as parents, you move from being the ‘controller’ of your children to a ‘consultant’ of teenagers. To keep your young children safe and well, you have to be in control so that they don’t do things that will harm themselves. But the dynamic changes with teenagers and we have learnt that we need to be willing to listen and consider what our kids have to say, they need to feel heard and that their opinions matter, this approach can transform your relationship with them and build for the future.
Michaela Hyde is the executive director of Marriage Foundation, presenter of The Relationship Hub on YouTube and co-presenter on the relationship show, ‘The M Word’ on Konnect Radio. She is married to Nick and they have two teenage children.
The thing about parenting young adults – I have two children in their early twenties – is that there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of advice or guidance that I can grab hold of. When my children were younger I was spoilt for choice; I could consume several new theories every week. Now, we parents of young adults are on our own. It seems that the parenting gurus lose interest by the time the kids are taller than their mothers and fathers.
So, all I have to offer is my own three-pronged piece of advice, and it is this:
Keep in touch, and
Prayer eases my anxieties, and for my children – they want to know that I’m there and that I care, but they don’t want me telling them what they should be eating for breakfast!
Mark Chester is the Parent Support Manager at Care for the Family
From the day our son and daughter-in-law first announced their pregnancy, we started to get lots of advice given to us from other grandparents of varying ages. The best piece of advice we were given was only do for the first what you can maintain for the rest. This didn’t really make sense, until he was actually born. As soon as we heard the news (he was born in lockdown, so we were unable to see him until he was nearly 6 weeks old) our urge was to go and buy loads of things for him. Every time I walked past a baby clothes stand in the supermarket, I would be tempted to purchase something new. I wanted to shower him with whatever I saw. But each time, that sound advice rung in my ears. Whatever we spend on this grandchild we would need to be prepared to spend on all the subsequent grandchildren. We have four children, so the number of grandchildren could potentially grow quite large.
That same advice spreads across into his spiritual life as well. Praying for him daily is easy and can definitely be maintained for others to come. We have also resolved to take lots of photographs of all our future grandchildren at every stage. Looking back at photos of our own children, we realise we have very few of them individually as babies; lots for the oldest, but all subsequent babies are mostly with siblings. With hindsight, maybe that would have been good advice for us as parents too.
Paula Clarke is a mum of three adults and a teenager and grandma of one toddler. She is a trained teacher and also works with children and families in her local church
I pray that my great granddaughters may be nurtured with wisdom by Godly parenting to enable them to have the courage to stand firm in the Christian faith and enjoy the fullness of life that brings and the peace that passes understanding.
My daughter told me that when she came back to faith after ten years away, it was helped by our overwhelming love, whatever she had done. I believe in bringing up children in the Christian faith. God is love, how can we go wrong?
Lyn Goodwin is a gardener, artist and great grandmother of three