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25 Things I Know Now as a Parent

Posted by Jen on July 14, 2010 at 7:23 AM in Parenting tips
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1. Silly string really is worth the unjustifiable purchase when you're being lobbied hard in the store.

2. Nothing good can come from leaving the cake batter unattended, even for one minute.

3. Your example will be followed faster than your rules.

4. If you always say yes, it's probably time to say no.

5. If you always lean towards no, say yes.

6. Your intuition is a better guide than everyone else's opinion of how you should do it.

7. There's nothing like dancing in the living room to get everybody in a better mood.

8. Kids never stop needing you at bedtime, and it's never about the extra glass of water.

9. No matter what they say or how they act, your kids really know you care.

10. There's no such thing as too much time playing outside.

11. Regular bathing is way overrated.

12. Regular haircuts, however, do something mysteriously good for self-esteem and sometimes self-control.

13. Playing together is just as important as eating right and going to bed on time.

14. Your kids are on your side, willing to comply, more than you know.

15. Being tough is important, but you have to know how and when.

16. Mistakes will be forgiven.

17. Your presence is more important than any opportunity you could provide.

18. Kids aren't the only ones with too much screen time.

19. How you handle your own relationship troubles will teach your kids how to handle theirs.

20. No one is too old to be snuggled.

21. Listening is the most powerful way to get through to your kids, no matter what's going on.

22. If you buy the big thing of bubble stuff, it will get spilled in the first five minutes.

23. Without a doubt, a big cardboard box is the best gift they'll ever get, no matter what the age.

24. Telling stories about yourself at their same ages is an endless source of delight, especially if you tell the ones where you got it all wrong trying to get it all right.

25. Committing to your own personal growth and well-being reassures kids and creates a safe space for them to tackle their own challenges, without worrying about yours.

Wanna play? Write your own list of 25 Things you know now as a parent and leave a link to your blog or facebook page in the comments below! You can even tweet your 25--just be sure to follow @pbssupersisters, so we can find you!


The Other Laura writes...

You are so right, Jen. It is never about the extra glass of water.

Here are 25 things I know as of this morning.

Laura writes...

haha, this whole blog post is totally true, at least where my little cousins are concerned. I swear we go through 5 bottles of bubbles a week, and only getting a few actual bubble blowing sessions in with them. This post just exemplifies how great and wonderful kids are, and entertaining as well. Oh, and when growing up, there was a reasno why silly string was banned from the house :D!

Alex writes...

As a soon mama to be, I loved this list!! Thanks, Jen :)

Sara writes...

What a great list! I am going to make one for myself and hang it on the fridge as a daily reminder :)

Stacy (Mama-Om) writes...

Ooh, yours are so good! I love the depth and breadth of them... the humor in the details and the pathos of the universal truths!!

I did mine --

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to share with each other.


Leslee writes...

I would only add these two:

Offer fruit and veggies when they're hungry, and they'll love fruit and veggies.

Read together, starting when they're tiny, and don't stop.

Dorothy writes...

Hard to top that wonderful and comprehensive list. But I would add:

Don't pull punches with your vocabulary. No word is ever too big, even for a little kid, and they love learning the big ones.

Kat writes...

Brilliant list and superb additions in the comments!
I would like to add:
Note the day that you find yourself judging another child's bad behaviour and, by extension, another adult's parenting style. Within no less than two weeks, your child will do exactly the same thing. Guaranteed.

JR317 writes...

I am only 3 years into parenting with 2 girls...this is so true. Thank you for the reminders that ground us as parents. These days working with a 3 and 18m old you sometimes lose sight of what is important. The laundry can wait a little longer.

laura writes...

One I've found to be the beginning of a brilliant young writer: give your kindergarten aged child a spiral notebook and tell them to write in it every night before bed. At this age they start with pictures and you can ask them to provide the words (which you write). You'll help your child develop as a writer long before they really know what they're doing, and they'll love it!

Nattie writes...

As an 18 month old grandparenting,this is
like finding gold in the mine without digging.
Thank you for all the creative individuals, who shares their parenting talents.

Chadd writes...

If you ask your child's teacher if you can come visit the classroom during the day and she or he consistently says "not today"...then it might be time to find another teacher.

Knowing what makes a good teacher is hard to define but it's one of those things where "you know one when you see one". In other words you have to see one in action.

Oh, and when you get observant, but forgiving. She or he will probably be nervous.

Yes, I'm a teacher...and I love my kid's parents :-)

Donna writes...

Laughing so hard your stomach hurts and you ALMOST wet your pants can be contagious.

No matter how old your child becomes, they still need their Mom or Dad.

Sidewalk chalk design contests ROCK!

Seeing who can make the best and fastest and longest flying paper air plane is never boring.

One small compliment can make a HUGE difference.

Fireflies in mason jars make some of the best pets.

Clouds make magic shapes.

The grass and flowers get happy when it rains.

Hugs are fuzzy and warm.

Singing really loud and dancing does wonders for hurt feelings.

Some spoons were meant to be hung on your nose.

Flat Stanley has a lot of friends.

Aleksandra writes...

Thank you for suggesting this great idea. Made me think. I learned about you from Mama-Om

Melanie writes...

Wonderful list, Jen. Comments are great too! I have one practical, not so much whimsical, thing to add.

Put a child's name and age (or the date it was created)on a piece of art you plan to save. Sometimes it's hard to remember which child created a piece of art, and you'll want to organize the art collection later, perhaps chronologically, according to how old the child was. I learned this lesson the hard way!

jane writes...

I totally flip-flop on #s 11 and 12. I could care less about their hair but it better not be stinky!

My #1 thing I now know: A parent doesn't have to accept all the blame for a kid's behavior but s/he doesn't get to take all the credit either.

Kim writes...

wonderful list and excellent additions. Here are a few more:

Never say never.

Time IN is way more effective than Time Out.

Play the boob and let the kids correct you every now & then. It does wonders for their willingness to let you correct them the next time it's important.

You've got to give respect to get respect.

They're never too old for their Pooh or Elmo or blankie (or whatever lovey does the trick for them).

Carolyn writes...

I love this. Can we add another?

Say no less often, but mean it more.

Amy writes...

Thanks, Jen, for this. I posted mine at

Annemarie writes...

my take on things I have learned frm my son with autism. I love everyones lists

Annemarie writes...

my list is a little different. I'm raising four boys. I based my list on Sammy, he is 5, and he has autism

Meg writes...

Beautiful Jen. My list is posted over here.

Diana Tyler writes...

What I learned from my parents:

1. Don't fight in front of the kids.

2. You can choose to be a better parent than were yours.

3. If you're not sure...say, "No." You can always change your mind to, "Yes" and be the hero; but it never works well the other way around.

4. Show your kids that their parents love one another.

5. Housework will always be there; on your days off together, perform the most necessary tasks...and then go play with your kids.

6. Some of the most fun adventures don't have to cost a lot (i.e., parks, libraries, camping, the local swimmin' hole, etc.)

7. Parent together--don't allow your kids to "divide and conquer." Whether divorced or single, tell your child to, "Ask your mother/father"...and then check with one another to make sure you aren't being "played".

Other things I've learned along the way:

8. Read to your kids. Early. And often.

9. Teach your kids that mistakes are life's way of helping us learn to do better. "Sin" boldly...and learn quickly.

10. Listening and observing are the most important skills to perfect. Most kids won't--or don't know how to--tell you what's really wrong.

11. Your kids are different from one another. Cherish each for who s/he is as an individual.

12. Quiet is a blessing...although often a sign that SOMEONE in the house is up to no good. Go, investigate...QUICKLY!

13. That puppy (cat, lizard, whatever) followed your child home only because s/he left a trail of bologna sandwich.

14. Allow your child to have pets; s/he will learn responsibility and compassion. It's worth the extra mess the pet may bring.

15. Let your kids' friends play at your house; at least you'll know who they're with, and what they're doing.

16. Taking in strays doesn't always end with animals. Your hospitality and love can make an important difference in the life of a child with a troubled home situation.

17. Your kids are often smarter and more perceptive than you realize; live in a way that honors that.

18. It's natural for kids to rebel. Stay up late, play your music loud, dress provocatively, and speak colorfully. Your children will turn out to be model citizens.

19. Show your children that spiritual faith is an important part of life...but don't cripple them with it.

20. Allow your children to express themselves. They are not miniature versions of you--do not try to live vicariously through them, nor make them wear YOUR passions.

21. Teach your child early on the magic of positive words. (i.e., "I would prefer grape juice, if you have it, please" over "Yech! I HATE orange juice!!")

22. Your children don't need to know ALL your stories...

23. Fireflies in Mason jars often die if left there overnight.

24. All things in life are temporary...but experiences have more value than things.

25. A life without goals leads to aimlessness. But goals without flexibility lead to disappointment. Balance--in all things--is best.

Janine writes...

Here are a couple more, from the other side of 18--which seems, by the way, like the finish line when you're grappling with things like homework and bedtime. It's not.

1. Life is long, and your life as a family is as long, rich, and rewarding as the time you put into building relationships. As your children grow, you're creating Team Us, and defining, sometimes daily, what it means to be part of a family ... your family.

2. Relationships between siblings (as separate from parents) are fundamental, but parents often leave kids to work things out on their own. A little guidance can help them build enduring brother-sister connections, which is a lovely thing to behold when they reach adulthood and leave your sphere of influence.

Jules Laughinghawk writes...

Thanks! I've so enjoyed reading these postings.

"There is no truth. There are only stories." Zuni proverb on life

jenny writes...

The best decorations for your home are the abstract art projects they bring home. Hang it with pride and watch your child beam!!

Dolores Covington writes...

1. Don't blink, they're 18 and out of the house before you know it!
2. You are the adult, not their best friend.
3. No whining....if you can't speak to me in a 'big boy/girl' voice, then I can't hear you...
4. Read, read, then read some more.
5. Teach them their multiplication facts before 5th grade!
6. If you ask permission while I'm on the phone, the answer is NO.
7. Never, never, never, get into power struggles.

Simone writes...

I love your list. I did one too--it was a good exercise for me to remember the stuff I've learned along the way:
1. Invest in a good camera and a little flip video camera and use them a lot.

2. BACK UP your photos and videos (learned the hard way....sniff)

3. You can't control what the kids eat so don't bother worrying yourself about it.

4, You can't make a baby sleep so don't worry about it.

5. Co-sleeping is fine. Not co-sleeping is also fine. Breastfeeding is fine. Formula is fine too.

6. Kids are born with their own little personality, preferences, talents, strengths. It's not all parenting. Try to help them stretch a bit but don't step on their toes too much.

7. Have the dentist look at baby's teeth early (!!)

8. Write down all the funny things they say--even if it's on little pieces of paper crumpled in your purse. Work on the fancy book of their quotes later.

9. The "me against them" attitude never works. Model the cooperation you want with cheerfulness. It's "me with you." We're in this together.

10. Apologize for your own cranky behavior. Tell them moms get cranky, irritable, sad and hungry too.

11. I know juice seems healthy, but it really just means a big teary sugar crash later.

12. Get a babysitter.

13. Tolerate your child's frustration and disappointment.

14. Let your child know it's okay to have all of their emotions. Let them be angry with you.

15. Moms need fruits and veggies too. In fact, is the baby eating better than you?

16. Bribery will backfire on you later.

17. Early bedtimes for kids are good.

18. Work on your hobbies with your kids.

19. Bring a few things in your purse for restaurants.

20. That thing that he/she does that bugs you? Ya, that's developmental. (and will pass on its own, thank god)

21. The shoes that she can't walk in? Save yourself the heartache of trying to shuffle through the mall and give them away.

22. The house will never be clean. Try to be fine with that.

23. It really does pay off to live near a good school, even if it means renting a new apartment.

24. Parents are trying to do the best they can.

25. Kids are trying to do the best they can and need us to see that too.

Stimey writes...

GREAT list. I needed to hear some of these this week.

boho mom writes...

Ok, Jen....after years of lurking and loving your blog, I decided to chime into this post with my own list of 25 Things!
Thanks for such inspiring writing!

Jenny writes...

very nice list. :D

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