Cloudy With A Chance Of Master Class

Kevin and I drove down to my mom’s place this weekend, so we could spend time with her and my brother and my nephew…and the Gulf of Mexico…


(Me and my nephew, at Navarre Beach, FL)

We stared at it ’til our feet and ankles had disappeared waaay into the sand, and he told me he loved me “deeper than the part of the ocean with sharks in it” that day.

Month. MADE.

And when he reached over to hold my hand during Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs after we got back to my Mom’s place?


On the way back from Florida, Kevin and I listened to Diane Sawyer on Oprah Radio’s, “Master Class”. Have you heard/seen that one? I never realized how soothing her voice was until I was just listening to it on the radio. It made me wish I had a more soothing voice. Do kids respond better to soothing voices? I know I didn’t want to stop listening.

One of my favorite parts of Diane’s interview was when she said, “I read once, that this great physicist (who won a Nobel Prize) said that every day when he got home, his Dad asked him not what he learned in school but, ‘Did you ask any great questions today?‘ I always thought, what a beautiful way to educate kids. That we can be excited by their questions- not by our answers, and whether or not they can repeat our answers.” — Diane Sawyer

Mind. BLOWN.

I LOVE that, don’t you? “That we can be excited by their questions- not by our answers and whether or not they can repeat our answers.

I felt lucky to have tuned in just seconds before she said it. What a great reminder to be intentional about experiencing the wonder that goes quietly rides along with teaching and learning from each other. Sharon Salzberg once wrote, “Curiosity broadens our world and opens our hearts. It is a way to shift out of being on automatic pilot, so that we can see a situation, a person, or an emotion with fresh eyes”. Here’s to seeing the extraordinary side of ordinary today! #AndEveryDay

Kevin and I have been together for 10 years now. We spent the first couple on the road together, the next few working together at a photography studio, and the last five building e-businesses that have simultaneously Grown and Humbled us in ways we never could’ve imagined. All that to say, we’ve spent a lot of time together. So as you can imagine, we’ve covered almost every topic of discussion you can think of. But it wasn’t until we started talking about turning the two of us, into a three of us (through adoption), that we started to think/talk about how we’d parent a child.


(Kevin, and our neighbor, fishing down the street)

We’ve talked a lot about which parts of our own parent’s parenting styles we want to incorporate into our personal parenting style, and I’m sure it goes without saying that we’ll learn the most about how to best parent our child when we actually become parents, but in honor of my serendipitous satellite-streamed brush with Diane Sawyer this weekend, I thought it would be fun to open up a discussion about your favorite parenting tips and techniques today. If you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share with the folks reading this post, we’d love to hear them! (Mom G, Mom P, and Aunt Chriss- that means you, too!)

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  1. Lynne says

    I love the thought of you guys becoming parents because I can just tell you have a loving and kind spirit. I have been blessed with 3 children and three grandchildren in my 49 years on this earth. First, no one has all the answers and believe me all parents make mistakes! I joke with my daughter that because she was our first she was our test child. We tried things with her to see what worked! :-). What we discovered is all our kids were different and what worked for one didn’t work for another. The one thing I do believe in strongly is letting kids live their own life and make their own mistakes! As parents we always want to protect them from trouble and solve their problems, but I think it is a huge disservice to them. They need to experience difficult things so they learn how to handle them and what they need to do to fix the problem and avoid it in the future. I always felt like if we allowed them that it would give them the confidence to realize they could get through anything. My two oldest who are out on their own have both told me it was the greatest thing we ever did for them. They have seen friends fall to pieces when faced with a problem and be completely unable to figure out what they should do. And that is as an adult! I know all my children know that we are always their safety net but thankfully they all perfer to stand on their own two feet!

  2. sonja says

    loved dsawyer’s quote. wish I would’ve thought of that 20 yrs ago.
    we’re still learning as we parent our 19 and 17 yr old girls, but I do know that one of the best things we’ve always told them…

    every decision you make has a consequence – good or bad.

    that’s really helped our girls figure out what route to take on many occasions. and it’s helped for extreme situations like if I study hard for a test, my consequence will be a great grade or more serious issues, like if I decide to have pre-marital sex, it’ll for sure bring on bad consequences. I’ve probably told them both this little family proverb at least a few times a week as long as they’ve been able to understand.

  3. Tammy says

    Weird. This weekend my husband, me and our 5 month old daughter drove from Fort Walton Beach to Montgomery, AL (to Maxwell AFB) and listened to a 5 part sermon on parenting. I knew the minute I was blessed with her life… that I wanted to follow the guide God gave us to be the best parent I can be. Listening to those sermons opened a flood of conversation between my husband and me. We too have been together for 11 years, married 10 and thought we had discussed everything there was to discuss. Then along came our little blessing… and so many new conversations. The only thing for certain: she’s brought us so much more joy than we ever could have imagined.

  4. Christina says

    Well first I would say you should always tell your kids I will love you no matter what, and mean it! They have to know if they screw up whether they are a toddler or a teenager that you will love them no matter what.
    Second, sometimes kids don’t feel like talking when you feel like talking so you have to respect that. But when they do feel like it., drop everything your doing if you can and listen because they may not feel like it for a while..This includes even adult children.

  5. Relle says

    I became a mum at 32, but had wanted to be a mum since age 10. I discovered when you become a parent you will worry about so many things that never worried you before. That is normal and your not crazy.
    I am the blessed mum of Triplets. Two boys and one girl. We had them through gestational surrogacy as i was born without a uterus. They are my miracles.
    1. Tell them you love them ALL the time. I like to ask, how do you know mummmy loves you? It’s a good way to check your loving them in their love language.
    2. No baby talk. From 9mths i talked to them like they understood and they were so much better behaved becuase of it. Babies understand so much more than the few words they speak.
    3. Set the boundaries and be consistant. My kids at two i could take to the hairdresser by myself. Two minutes out i would say turn your ears on. They would make a clicking sound and i would say okay i need you to sit in your stroller and read your books and not fight or pull hair or what ever. They would have their hair cut one at a time. Then i gave them a packet of raisins to munch on when i had my hair done. They never let me done. When we were back in the car i would say mummy is so proud of you, you behaved so well and used your manners.
    4. Manners. My kids have been given so many things from adults because they have such lovely manners. I tell them manners pays and it does.
    5. In the car we talk about all sorts of things-God, creation, salvation, why some people are mean, what is the largest animal in the sea, do spelling or maths. It is a great time to talk rather then just each be in your own world.
    6. Dinner time we always eat togther. No tv allowed. It’s an awesome to to catch up and connect.
    7. I always light up when i see them. They know the favourite part of my day is paicking them up from school and hearing about their day.
    8. Kids remember the thing you do with them and how it makes them feel, not what it costs. My kids love to cook with me, be helpers on whatever, craft together, eat dinner at the beach, camp in tent in the back yard and go to playground. All free just time and love.
    9. Teach them respect for everybody and for other peoples things. That respect is a two way street. That God made us all and loves us all.
    10. That being a christian isn’t just going to church on Sunday. We need to be Jesus hands and feet, and what that truely means. Watching my kids learn that has been one of my most cherished memories. It makes Jesus so real to them.
    11. They have done studys and children that know there family’s story(yours and Kevins)do so much better in the tough times of life. Like if a family member or friend dies. It grounds them, they are a part of something. They matter. I live with chronic pain from an accident. I was given a pay out and we used it to have our kids. They know i would do the accident all over again(chronic pain included) to get them. They are worth it to me.
    12. Play with them. We have a favourite game i play with the kids. I say i love you deeper. They say wider. I say higher. The idea is not to repeat what the other says and go as long as you can. They love it.

    You guys will be awesome parents. You have so much to give them. Two parents that love each other, a solid marriage, both being on the same page with parenting them, you have God to share with them and to guide you, and a loving extened family that surrounds you. Your child will be so blessed to be in the family God chose for them…yours.

    Relle ;0)

    • MelO says

      Nice!! Further to that I would say NO tv!! There is a constant attack on our children through Disney, Nickelodean etc on their spirituality – if you sit an watch their shows, they subliminally and overtly impress on our children the ‘New Age’, ‘Spiritism’ etc!! We have had no TV in our house for 7 months now and don’t miss it!! It fosters more ‘talk time’ and time together, quiet reflective time, and more wholesome activities!! Go cold turkey!!

  6. says

    I LOVED the Diane Sawyer interview on Masterclass. I kept it and watched it a few times, Jane Fonda’s was really good too! I wish I had time to read all of these replies, my kids are grown but I’m still learning how to be a better parent and soon a grandparent. My best advice would be to soak it all in, it goes by far too quickly!

  7. kathy d says

    RESPECT that is one huge thing that I can tell you. Respect your children as people.

  8. Marianne in Mo. says

    My biggest tip would be to be united in your parenting. This means no good cop/bad cop approach, and if one of you lays down a rule, the other backs you on it. I know that sounds obvious, but I’m amazed at how many parents don’t do this. Be firm but not inflexible, and stick by what you say. Don’t try to be a friend, be a strong, confident adult. I’m always complimented on our kids having turned out so well. It also helped that we were the caregivers of our kids, not someone else. We sacrificed our wants for the good of our family. If it didn’t benefit the “whole”, we did without. We didn’t have the new car, big house, vacations every year, but we were able to put both thru college with no debt. NOW we have a new house and more trips, and so do our kids. And they are following our example with their families. Makes me so proud!

  9. Annie says

    I am learning that sometimes I make mistakes. Sometimes I look at how my relationship with my kids is going (they’re 3 and 5yo), and realize we’re caught in a circle that is just not going well. It’s okay for us to press the reset button and try something different. I find that when I catch us in a cycle and not going anywhere correlates when I am not spending time with God and praying for my children. The reset button usually involves me once again going before God and pleading for help. This helps to reset my patience level, my creativity for time with my kids, how peaceful my attitude and therefore home is, etc. I keep 2 small books by my side of the bed. They’re “Power of a Praying Wife,” and “Power of a Praying Parent.” When I am actively and proactively praying for my kids (and my husband), I am able to be a better mommy and wife.

    Before you’re a parent, especially if you are one that has prayed and agonized for a child for who knows how long, you can’t ever imagine that sweet little child you dream of could ever drive you so crazy you lock the bathroom door for just even one minute of time to breathe. It was absolute pain waiting to have a child. And so I didn’t believe it when my friend told me that the same sweet little child would most likely drive me crazy some day. Not my baby. But, oh yes! My babies do drive me to needing a padded room sometimes! I am SO grateful that someone told me that this is normal. And so on those days, the creative mommy has to come up with a solution to reset the flow of the day. Lots and lots of prayer. Thankfully God intervenes and will put an idea in my head of some way to make moments teachable, and I can still love on my kids and let them know they are loved, no matter what.

    A side note- One day, my darling children were acting up and ended up going outside the sliding glass door onto the deck when I had told them no for whatever reason it was. So I said, “Kids, get your butts back in the house.” So they came and put their little tushies just inside the door, the rest of their bodies on the deck and sat there. And said, “Ok, Mommy! Our butts are back in the house!” They were 2 and 4 at the time. :) And like the wonderful mommy I am, I took a photo of it. :)

  10. Jennifer says

    I have 3 kids and I agree with lots of the others’ comments, especially love them and pray!!! As I have struggled through disciplining my kids, I’ve learned to see mistakes that they make as opportunities to teach them about who God is. Discipline is so hard and incovenient, but when I point out my kids’ sin, I also remind them that this is why they need a Savior. God hates that sin, but he loved them enough to send his very own Son to die for it. So we pray together and ask God to forgive them, instead of me just saying “do better next time.” If I teach my kids to just behave better all of the time (which is selfishly what I want because it would make my life easy), I risk missing the chance to reach their heart. I know that you can’t do this all of the time, of course. Sometimes you’re at the store and you just have to say, “don’t push your sister!” But when you’re able, do all that you can to lead them to repentance. Jesus is our only hope and we cannot change ourselves or our kids!!! Two more quick things, hug them when they’re bad and remind them that you love them the same even then. And…apologize and ask for their forgiveness when you mess up. For me, that’s daily!!!! If this blog is any glimpse into your heart, I know that you and Kevin will be loving, fun, wonderful parents!!! Excited for you!!!

  11. Rachael S says

    I’m so glad you got to enjoy Navarre, “Florida’s best kept secret”! I moved back here from Mobile two years ago and our family could not be happier. Oprah’s Master Class is my favorite show. Dianne Sawyer was one of my favorites. That is one smart, classy lady. I, too, took in that statement about her dad and thought how great it was.

    I have been following your blog since the beginning. I have enjoyed watching your blog grow and such good things happen to you. Obviously I don’t know you and Kevin, but from what I read and the sweet photos I see, I just know you will be wonderful parents. I have three kids, a high schooler, a middle schooler and an elementary schooler. My best advice? Have patience, don’t sweat the small stuff, learn to accept a messy house, HAVE FUN, soak in those childhood years because they are gone in a FLASH. Be a mother first, friend second. I have no doubts though, you will be GREAT. <3

  12. Diane says

    I was able to be a stay at home mom and the best thing I believed I did was BE THERE for my son when he got home from school to ask questions and listen..(although, I think working women can do the same thing ..don’t get me wrong) son would walk through the door and I wouldn’t say “how was your day” …I would ask silly questions to get him talking..he is almost eighteen and still comes home and can’t wait to tell me about his day (or night..even if it is 1 am in the morning) and I ALWAYS listen…because he will graduate next year and I will miss all his talks…

  13. Christina Lockhart says

    Hi Layla,

    I’m mother to a beautiful 3.5 year old daughter. When I was pregnant I read every parent book, magazine, internet article I could get my hands on. We reviewed and re-reviewed every baby gadget on the market and bought some of the top of the line stuff. What we found is that every baby is different and we were in no way prepared! We bought six different kinds of bottles before we found one she liked. My parents bought us the top-o-the-line $180 baby swing with multiple positions and ipod dock and she hated it. We ended up buying a $30 portable swing off of Craigslist that she loved. The books all tell you to keep them on a schedule and to have her to bed by 7:30pm. If she is in bed by 7:30 then we don’t get to spend any time with her during the week at all. Besides it turns out she is a nite owl like her parents and prefers to sleep until 7:30 am. And you know what… that works for us. She gets enough sleep, we get to play with her. Sometimes she is asleep by 8:30, other times its 9:30. She still gets a nap (and on the weekends we do too) and the doctors are impressed with her growth, development, and overall demeaner. So, my point is, just because a book or article says something is the best or the best way for your child, that may not be so, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. I did for a long time and it was pointless.


    P.S. Thank you for your prayers. My husband’s surgery was a sucees and he is feeling better and sleeping better than he has in a few years!

  14. Lesley says

    Okay, this is going to sound totally messed up, but much like your “ah ha moment” listening to Diane Sawyer, I had my own moment when we got a puppy, that carried over to children.

    My husband grew up around dogs, my family “traveled too much” so counter to my requests to get one every year, on every birthday and Christmas wish list from when I was 9, I didn’t. When my mother passed “the problem” of me wanting to get a dog onto my husband shortly after we were married, he was on it. Less than a year later, and one day after we moved into our first house, we brought home a yellow lab puppy. I was thrilled then realised I was in over my head; I had no clue how to take care of a dog! I called my husband at least 3 times a day at work, and even demanded he come home when the puppy’s lip swelled up from a bee sting.

    As a joke my husband brought home ‘Puppies for Dummies’, well since I felt like one, I cracked it open. I learned a lot of things about expectations and training processes… and then I read the line. “If you have a puppy that will be big at maturity, DON’T LET IT DO ANYTHING NOW THAT YOU WOULDN’T WANT IT TO DO AT 100 POUNDS.”

    It HIT ME, train the dog now for the adult I want it to be, no matter how cute I think the behaviour is at 15 pounds.

    When our two adopted children arrived for permanent placement, at 3 and 5 years of age, I quickly realised that the same rule could be applied. I realised that what annoyed me most about other people parenting was when they did something, put some rule in place, allowed something to slide, dropped a battle, that I knew they (and others) would pay for later. Kids are pretty smart, they like structure, they respect rules, they also know when you are changing the the game on them, and they revolt.

    I get grief from my parents, my father in law and my sister (her kids are younger than mine) because they think we are too strict, expect too much, but then marvel at the wonderful kids we are raising.

    Raise your baby to be the adult you want it to be right from the start.

    • Ivy says

      Save the best twinkle in your eye for your child.
      Say yes as much as you can. There’s so much you have to say no to.
      When you do have to discipline your child, do it quickly and reconcile quickly.
      Be passionate about what they are passionate about. Learn about their interests and be involved in their activities. (I have learned so much about sports, fashion, charities, & all kinds of music because those were & still are the interests of my kids–they are now all grown.
      Be the hang out place…We quickly decided we wanted our home to be the place where all the “kids” gathered. Reasons: we got to know our kids’ friends and the parents of their friends. We knew what they were up to/where they were. We still have wonderful relationships with those “kids” (now ages 18-32). Our home was/is always referred to as the (our last name) hotel. Our guest room was/is referred to as room 101.
      Most importantly – be an example of our Heavenly Father. The first place they will learn about a relationship with God is with their relationship with their parents.

  15. Lisa says

    Throw out any one else’s rule book. I’d read all the books, consulted all the parents I knew and still my infant wasn’t the same as anyone else’s. In despair, believing myself to be a failure at new motherhood, I called my mom and cried and asked her what to do. She said, “You’re the Momma. Quit listening to everybody else. Look at your baby and be his mom!” That was five days after he was born, but it was the day I became a mother. Trust yourself and God’s grace.

  16. Tobi says

    Keep a sense of humor, and before you decide this is huge, and it becomes huge, ask yourself…in the end of my life/my child’s life will this have mattered? Will it have mattered that you had cereal for dinner sometimes – no. Will it have mattered that you laughed when they spilled milk and broke your favorite glass…yes! You will have laughed, and you will have seen with eyes of understanding. When they misbehave, don’t become mean, become firm…guide them, don’t force them. Kids should have a healthy fear that they may disappoint their parents, not a fear of their parents. They will disappoint us, it is how we respond that sets the tone for how they see themselves in the world. They are not the mistakes they make, they are just getting better at being humans by making mistakes. We love them through it, we guide them by example, we love them.

  17. ruth says

    I have a 14 year old son and recently I have felt the need to tell him that I know that he loves me and that it’s ok that he does not like me all the time, That the windows of his soul are his eyes and therefore, even though he is not ‘saying it out loud’ his eyes are communicating with me all the time.

  18. says

    Hi Guys!

    I agree with all who have said be on the same page as your spouse. Being a united front is important

    I am the mom of two boys and one thing I have always tried to keep in check is to make sure that my kids are exploring what makes them happy, not what I THINK should make them happy. I want my boys to grow up knowing they are always loved no matter what, and if that means peddling pencils down by the lake shore instead of becoming a doctor….they need to live their passion. I want a happy life for them.

    You guys will be great parents! That’s a lucky boy or girl that finds their way to you.

  19. Becky Rast says

    I agree with christienne about listening to our children. It is so important to value their words and respect them as individuals. My youngest child just turned twenty and I’ve thought many times about all the lessons I didn’t teach but I am so thankful to see my children grow into thoughtful adults. We need to help our children to “consider others” because it doesn’t come naturally. We have to show them and teach them to be interested in, and compassionate towards, others. They are happier human beings if they don’t always think in terms of themselves.

  20. Bonnie says

    The listening to your child is THE most important piece of advice, I think, anyone can get or give. They offer so much and are struggling to figure out so much – the world is so big and they are not – so listening and figuring out what they are trying to understand is huge. I love the “C” word story in an earlier comment. We are quick to assume and kids just aren’t. Also? Laugh with your child. The silly knock, knock joke stage can drive you up the wall but LAUGH. Instill a sense of humor, an ability to not take themselves too seriously and they’ll be able to roll with life’s punches a little easier. They’ll still hurt, no getting around that but they’ll have a frame, a perspective, to put things in. Last? Don’t forget the Bible – “don’t exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training & instruction of the Lord.” Something to be said for not exasperating your children…

  21. katie says

    Hi Layla & Kevin,

    I’m a mom to 5 wonderful children. I have 4 girls and then a boy. I feel like I could write a book right now but something easy and simple you can do is before you go anywhere (ie. church, friends house, etc.) Explain what you are about to do and what you expect from them. For instance, my son just went to the doc.’s for his 4 year old check up. Prior to going we talked about what the Dr. was going to do and before walking thru the door to his office I knelt down eye to eye with him and explained that I wanted him to sit in his chair and no running around. I also told him I didn’t want him playing with any of the toys because sometimes sick children play with them and I didn’t want him to get sick. He marched in and did exactly what I had asked of him. :o) Take the time to talk with you kids and when they’re old enough to understand give them the reason why for things. It is so simple and it can save you from a ton of opportunities for misbehaving. Your hearts are sooooo BIG!!! People see it in EVERYTHING you guys write about. You WILL be wonderful parents!!! A bonus piece of advice is to remain teachable and open to helpful CRITICISM about your child. It can be hard to swallow at times but you and your child will be blessed and better for it.

    God bless!

  22. Lissa says

    Love them, pray for them, and let God show you how to fix any problems that arise and trust Him for every decision. Parenting is full of decision making and problem fixing, our heavenly Father knows the perfect answer to any questions you will face.

  23. says

    With being an empty nester, I have had plenty of time to think about this. I would say no matter how tired you are and how cranky your children may be, always cherish bedtime. Hold them, rock them, sing to them, whisper blessings, pray out loud even oncr they have settled down, let them fall asleep in your arms. Give healthy bedtime snacks, or a mini cup of milk. They will sleep much better. Always kiss and hug hellos and goodbyes and always end phone conversations with “I love you.”…hold their little hands and soothe their cheeks as much as possible…and before you know it, they will be tucking you into bed…without being hurried…and you will catch yourself choking back the tears when they teach to hold your

    • says

      …reach to hold your hand…just because. It is we as parents who teach our children what it means to love, to nurture, and how to love others. Congratulations on your adoption adventure! Love to you and your hubby!

  24. melinda says

    As teens, whenever we left the house Dad would say, “Make us proud.” Today, Dad is in Heaven, but we still use those words as our kids walk out the door. . .

  25. Megan says

    We like to stick to the basics: eat dinner at the table. Have a routine. Play together. Have an early bedtime so we have a few hours of time as a couple. Include them in basic chores and daily things in life: wash the carrots, help me sweep the floor. Walk the dog, get the mail, pick out flowers, put the such and such in the cart while shopping. We also limit tv and read a lot of books. We make it a priority to have a date night– even if its in the backyard. We nurture our relationship as much as we nurture our kids because someday when we’re old, we still want to know each other. :)

  26. em says

    My kids are still small but the biggest parenting lessons I’ve learned came from my amazing mother-in-law:
    1. “Don’t let the nurses make you neurotic.” This came while I was still in the hospital after my first baby was born. Nurses, while AMAZING and WONDERFUL, still have a job to do. Sometimes their “benchmarks” freaked me out. My MIL helped me relax with that simple statement and I’ve carried it through to all other phases of Life With Kids so far: “Don’t let the parenting blogs/teachers/media/books/etc., make you neurotic.” You’re the parents, you know what’s best; everyone else who has a job to do is just trying to do their job. Don’t let them freak you out about yours!
    2. Your biggest job is to love them. This is something that has helped me with adult family members and I see my MIL exercise this in every interaction with her now-adult children (6 of them). Your job when the kids are little is to guide and teach and love and help them grow. Then they hit a point where they need to figure things out for themselves. At that point, and forever afterwards, it’s NOT your job to preach and teach and guide unasked. It’s simply your job to love them and support them (um, dangerous behaviors/etc. TOTAL exception). There are adult family members in my life who make choices I don’t agree with, who struggle with all kinds of issues and decisions, and unless they come to me and ask for guidance or opinions, I’ve learned to just consistently express love for them. They’ll figure things out in their own time, in their own way, and casting judgment on them won’t help in any way. So just love them.
    Good luck with your adoption journey!! You’ll figure everything out along the way, just like the rest of us 😉

  27. Linda says

    So much excellent advice. I won’t repeat but will add what we told our twins about decision making that would help them make fool-proof decisions every time. Ask yourself if each decision meets the following 4 criteria: Is it safe? Is it legal? Is it ethical? Is it profitable? If you can answer positive to all 4 questions then your decision is easily made and the correct one. Our twins are adopted and having them was the best thing ever. They are now 23 and all 4 of us have a close relationship.

  28. Tiffany says

    I’m a huge believer in empathetic parenting. I believe in totally cutting out the yelling. I have 5 boys, so it wasn’t always easy, but it is so beneficial. My mantras? “He’s acting like a kid, because he is a kid.” And, “You should spend as much time enjoying your kid as you do worrying about him.” I love Dr. Laura’s website, You’ll be phenomenal!

  29. says

    You and Kevin are going to be great parents because you’re both learners. It’ll serve you very well to always have people who are a leg ahead of you in the parenting journey beside you…they’ll encourage you and help you in ways that will become priceless to you.

    I probably won’t be able to tell you anything you don’t already know…but these are the things, in no certain order, that have sure helped us or that we’ve had to learn the hard way in parenting.

    …put each other first. this won’t always be easy, but do it anyway. :)
    …know that God loves your children more than you do..he can be trusted with them…and with their story with him. Sometimes, parents struggle to control their kids’ thoughts, words, feelings…let them be who be created them to be.
    …don’t sweat the small stuff. it’s good to have a schedule for feeding and sleeping, but it’ll help you enjoy your children more if you have a bit of flexibility. Some kids just don’t fit the patterns that the books say they’ll fit if you do x, y, and z.
    …always say you’re sorry and sask for forgiveness when you make a mistake. it teaches our kids about true forgiveness. how sweet and comforting it is for our children to know that we make mistakes. it’ll allow them to come to you more freely when they mistakes.
    …play with them. choose them over work, friends, computer,’ll never regret it and they’ll never forget that you chose them. being chosen matters.

    last thing for now…you and Kevin have everything you need to be your little one’s parents. don’t compare your parenting journey with someone else’s…enjoy goes by so fast….and know that God is with you…helping you all along the way.

  30. Sarah says

    I am late to the party here, but wanted to share some advice that my mom gave me which has been absolutely invaluable as I’ve been learning to be a parent of toddlers. She told me to remember that sometimes the traits that make parenting a child difficult are the same traits that you will prize most when they grow into adults. So, for example, when my toddler is really testing her limits and negotiating with me about something that should be a simple discussion, I remind myself that her independence and questioning spirit are qualities that I find really admirable and will be proud that she’s honed. It helps take some of the edge out of difficult moments. I also really loved the book “Positive Discipline for Toddlers”.

    And a less “deep thoughts” type of tip — dried beans in a cake pan with spoons, little cups, etc… have kept my kids busy for more hours than I can count; great way to keep them busy when you need some moments for yourself!

    And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the quote from Diane Sawyer — will be asking my 3 yr old that tonight!

  31. says

    i don’t have kids of my own, but i had an incredible mom. a few things that i hope others can learn from her…

    never be too busy to turn down a hug from a child.
    adults can be wrong or mistaken and need to admit it if they are.
    age appropriate chores create a sense of belonging to a functioning household and teach responsibility.
    when correcting behavior, always include “i love you” along with “but i don’t appreciate” the bad action (or lack of action!).
    never threaten without sticking to the promised consequence.
    always remember that dandelions are pretty flowers to children.
    children learn to resolve conflicts from watching how their parents fight so don’t hide all arguments and never ever name call.

    and one last one that was big really for me…after god, each individual parent has to be the priority for that specific parent, then the spouse is the priority, then the children (people can only make themselves happy, then they can focus on nurturing their marriage as much as they nurturing the kids). i know this might sound harsh, but it really is not meant to be. see, my mom went back to school to be a nurse when i was in middle school so she might have missed a lot of my volleyball games, etc., but i got to watch a woman fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse. no one cheered louder than me for a graduate that day than when my mom walked across the state and accepted her diploma. learning hard work is rewarded and a woman can do anything she sets her mind to beat attendance at any of my school sports!

    layla, i you don’t need any of this advice. you and kevin are going to be spectacular parents. although i have to admit, i miss my mom dearly and appreciated the space to write a little about her. thank you.

  32. Brooke says

    Ok this is late, and I’m not a parent just yet (my husband and I are beginning that chapter). Him and I both lost a parent too early in life (him when he was 19 and me when I was 12). So knowing how short your time can be with your children my advice is to ENGAGE. we spend a lot of time going through the motions of life not always engaged in one another. It’s easy to lose someone or something in the emptiness that comes with being disengaged. Life is busy and it is also fleeting so take time to ENGAGE. Because no matter what happens or what curve balls are thrown at us in life what we remember are the moments we were really “in it” and present with our loved ones. Those are the memories that are etched in my mind and no one can take that from you. You’re children will forever be grateful for those memories.

  33. Dawn says

    Hi Layla – loved this post! I think you will find what works for ya’ll as parents but here are some of the best things my parents did for me:
    1. They were a unit (and still are after 55 yrs of marriage!) and decisions were made together.
    2. Growing up, my parents were NOT my best friends.
    3. We played! My brother and I were just talking about this. Some of our fondest memories are of playing hide and seek, playing ball, having water fights, playing cards/games, etc.
    4. We always had what we needed but not always what we wanted. As we got older, we had to work to earn some “extras” that we wanted.
    5. I had chores (dusting, cleaning a bathroom, unloading dishwasher, etc) on a routine basis.
    6. While we had structure, not every minute was scheduled. We had plenty of time just to be kids and to dream.

    There is much more that I would write about but ultimately my parents supported and encouraged me while ensuring I learned what was needed so I could take care of myself! I love them dearly and am so grateful for them.

    Praying for you through this journey…Thank you for sharing!

  34. Kate says

    I’ve only been doing this parenting thing for a little over a year, but my advice is: laugh together every day. Even the toughest, most stressed and exhausted days are brighter and easier to handle with your child’s laughter in your ears. It’s one of the most amazing joys.

  35. Aunt Chriss says

    I absolutley LOVE this post – you are so fortunate to have spent time with that precious little guy!

    Your request for parenting wisdom comes at a very interesting time for me. As I prepare for Aubrey’s college graduation and Ethan’s high school graduation (only 20 days apart), and the realization is setting in that we are going to be “empty-nesters”, I feel like I am faced with an identity crisis of sorts. You see, if anyone were to ask me about myself – “who” I am – my first response would be: “I’m a Mom”. I realize that just because the children aren’t going to be living with us anymore doesn’t make us any less their parents…but it feels different. What will I do with my time? (Pretty sure this will take care of itself) Who am I other than “Mom”? (Tough question…)

    One of the things this identity-crisis, soul-searching, kleenex purchasing time is lending itself to is ALOT of questioning: What kind of Mom was I? What did I do well? What did I do not so well? What would I change? Will they be okay? Did I raise responsible, happy, productive and respectful humans? There are many answers to all of these questions – which I will save for my memoir (lol)- but one of the things I always come back to in the “what would I change” department is this: I would be more PRESENT.

    I can’t count the number of times I played blocks or even read books (that I could recite from memory they were so often chosen) while making a grocery list or to-do list in my head, for example.

    Just the other day I was in a big sporting goods store and noticed a super-cute little boy (maybe 5 yrs old) walking with his (I assume) mom, brother, grandma and grandpa. He was saying, “Look, Mommy! A rocket ship!” over and over and over and over…again. He was pointing to a kayak displayed up on it’s end…yep, a rocket ship! She didn’t say a word to him…none of them did. I wanted to stop them and make them pay attention to him and tell them that someday, all too soon, that little boy will be off on his own and you will have missed something.

    I know I am a good Mom – fortunately my kids would say so, too – but I would give ANYTHING to be able to go back and share all those little “rocket-ship” moments I was too preoccupied to appreciate and be PRESENT for when my attention was all they wanted and needed.

    Thanks for your wonderful posts, Layla. I love you!
    Aunt Chriss

  36. Karen says

    This is probably so simple and obvious but I can’t say it enough: Hug and kiss your child EVERY day and tell them you love them no matter what, forever and ever, EVEN when they are teenagers and young adults. When they grow up you tend to not be so physical with your kids but they are at a period of their life when they are not getting that tender physicality from anyone else yet and they still need it, even goodnight kisses. My oldest son is in a difficult marriage where his wife has become very physically withdrawn and since he no longer lives with us, I hug him and kiss him as often as I can, because he is not getting it at home (breaks my heart). Sometimes we don’t know what is going on in the lives of our grown children. So my point is HUG and Kiss and TELL them you LOVE them no matter what as often as possible. This goes for spouses as well.