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…

Lettered_Cottage_Ocean_Beach_Sea

(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?

Heart. SMITHEREENS.

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.

Lettered_Cottage_Lake

(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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Comments

  1. Centsational Girl says

    Beautiful post my friend! I’m so excited for your journey! You’re so right about the “soothing voice” – children are drawn to them and they’re so much more persuasive than a voice raised in anger, especially when they’ve done something wrong. Spending time with them is the most important thing, encouraging their curiosity, and ensuring they follow their passions – resisting the urge to make them conform to your ideas for their future and trusting if they work hard and grow in their personal talents, they will succeed and be happy as adults. It’s an amazing thing to be entrusted with the heart of a child, treasure every moment.
    xoxo
    Kate

    • christienne says

      Love this post! Love you guys!

      I have 2 boys, they are 10 and 8 and I feel like parenting is a learning process for both parents and our children every day!

      My best tip for you is to always LISTEN. If we would listen more than we speak, we would learn so much. Don’t assume when they say something that they know the full extent of what you know and have learned in YOUR lifetime.

      Here’s a perfect example: One day my 8 year old came home from school saying his older brother used the “C” curse word. I could see my husband was about to blow a gasket on son #1, because he firmly asked ‘HOW DO YOU KNOW THE C WORD?’ I stepped in and said to son #2 “what’s the c word he said? I give you permission to say it to me and tell me what you heard”.
      To which the 8 year old said “he said CRAP mom!”

      Oh, and always be on the same page with your spouse. Once they realize one of you will give in they will play you against each other!! Stand strong and stand together as you raise them!!

      Best of luck in the adoption process!

      • Nancy says

        It reminds me of the time that my 9yr old DS came home saying Oh SHIP, Oh SHIP and I told him that still wasn’t acceptable language even though it wasn’t the true swear word. Ah kids.

  2. says

    I LOVE this! I’m a mom of 3 girls under 5. Obviously I want them to have manners and I’ve found a lot of kids aren’t being taught this anymore. The one thing we stressed when our first was little was instead of just saying no all the time to say, we don’t do this and this is why. Even when she was a toddler. It really works for us, and I believe our kids have also grasped the english language a little earlier because our #1 rule was always no baby talk. We’ve always talked to them like they are little humans.

    • says

      I’m not a parent yet (kids are a couple years down the road for us) but I love the “no baby talk” rule. I’ve volunteered as a camp counselor, and I do a lot of babysitting, and I’ve discovered one of the best ways to bond with kids is to treat them like what they say matters. One of the ways to show them that their words matter is by responding to them as thinking beings. Sometimes this means defining words for them, sometimes it means whipping out the dictionary to look up a definition together. The 10 year old I babysit once told me that she likes when we learn words together. Teaching a kid that adults still learn, and that learning can be fun? Score!

    • Shirley Miklusicak says

      So agree with you. We NEVER talked baby talk to our kids either. They are forming their language skills and they learn what they hear, It’s kind of funny, because I took my son somewhere, and the person started talking baby talk to him. My son just look at him then at me like saying, ” What’s wrong with him.” I will never forget that look on his face. It proved to me that we were doing the right thing. PLUS, he had very good verbal skills.

  3. Cheryl says

    I didn’t become a mom until the age of 41. I waited a very long time to become a mother and thought I was so very prepared to be a mom. I discovered that nothing can ever prepare you to be a mom. Overall, I have learned to breath. There are so many times recently I had to take a very deep breath and take a step back, especially after my seven year old daughter was recently diagnosed with ADHD. My life has been changed forever and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. You have a love that consumes your life in a way you can never explain in words. I sincerely cannot wait until you have this experience Layla, you will be a wonderful mom.

  4. janice says

    Sometimes I would just whisper. They had to really listen then. Diffused a lot of frustration for me and them. Loved to watch their little faces when.eyes would get so big as they didn’t want to miss anything:)

  5. says

    Great topic!
    I only wish I could mimic the style, patience, and love of my parents’ parenting technique but one specific that stands out is that they rarely ever gave my brothers and me the answers to our questions. They often answered our questions with questions and my mom almost always referred us to our collection of huge, ugly encyclopedias (yeh, it was the 80’s!). While our daughter is only 3months old, our son is 2.5 years and we already encourage him to seek out answers to his own questions. We ask HIM a lot of questions so that he really considers his surroundings and actions. We already notice that he has a super advanced knowledge of cause & effect and recognizes the finer things. As for me, I rarely ask a question without doing oodles of research on my own first…and thanks to the www, research is much faster than thumbing through encyclopedias! :)

  6. Betsy Derr says

    I have four grown sons and three baby grands, two of which I had for six days last week, reminding me just how demanding they are. Parenting takes patience, selflessness, consistency and commitment. It is truly an adventure in dying to self. When I wanted to check my e-mail and my Facebook last week, I had a two year old wanting to sit on my lap and play with the keyboard, constantly asking “Why?”, constantly saying, “Gama, Gama, Gama, Gama…”, from 6am until 7:30pm, with one, nice, long afternoon nap! Thankful to God for naps! All the while she was on my lap, the one year old was crawling around getting into everything. I love, love, love to play dress-up, read, go outside with them, and play on the floor with them, but I must say that preparing food for them three times a day, cleaning up all kinds of accidents, constantly having an eye out on them, bathing them, brushing their teeth and all the other things required to care for them, takes tons and tons of time and patience and once again I have to add, dying to self. You will not have the time you now have (for a very long time) to pursue all your own dreams, desires, crafts, projects (fill in the blank). But! It. is. WORTH IT!!!

    • Betsy Derr says

      P.S. I found that being out every night of the week was way too much for me! So I allowed each of my boys two activities, one had to be our church’s Awana program, the other was an activity of their choice. The oldest was into sports and now is a Hollywood Stuntman. The next loved playing piano and now plays in a worship band every week and has had some pretty cool gigs! The next, also a boy!, loved to tap dance and did that for 9 years before transferring the beat from his feet to his hands and took up the drums, also playing in our worship band. The last son wanted to play guitar and at age 17 is quite the mean guitarist, also playing in our church’s worship band each week. It is so fun to watch them develop their gifts and talents, and especially rewarding to watch them use them for God’s glory!

  7. Beth in the City says

    The most soothing voices to your child will be yours, no matter how soothing you may sound to other people. I’m enjoying your parenting journey – I have an adopted sister and there is just nothing quite like a gotcha day! The anticipation I felt that day (I was 11) was so incredible! The bonding that happened before we ever touched foot on the same continent was amazing. And totally different than loving a screaming child in the middle of the night, b/c that was my mom’s job, I slept through any such shenanigans. :)

  8. Pam says

    I raised both of my kids as a single mom. We spent a LOT of time talking… about everything. Anything they asked, I answered. And if I didn’t have the answer, we found it together. It is a scary world, and my kids and I knew with each other and God we would make it. (We went through both Columbine and 9/11 as they were growing up.) I always tried to speak to my kids as an equal, with respect. When they got in trouble, we talked until I was sure they understood where they had gone wrong, how to fix it and how to avoid it in the future. And I always apologized when I was wrong. We now (they are both in their 20’s) have a mutual respect for each other and a close friendship. I recently almost died and my son literally saved my life. I feel that I can trust them with my life, much like they did me when they were young. The fact that you are even thinking about these things is an indication that you will both be fine parents. Pam

  9. Mags says

    I developed a really serious neurological condition a few years ago and one of the really quirky effects that it has left me with is that I now question everything, just like being a child again and bizarrely I love it. I think when we grow up we forget to keep asking questions and we either accept things as they are or we live in fear of being ridiculed for not knowing the answers to things. When I was really seriously ill I had no memory and only constant repetition and questioning kept me (or made me) sane again. Now I’m not quite sure if its become a new habit to keep asking questions or if its still a symptom of the condition, but either way who cares, asking questions is awesome!!

  10. Suzy B says

    Best advise I can think of is do what you feel is right for you & Kevin. Teach child to be kind, a good friend, thoughtful & to write thank you notes!

  11. says

    I loved this post. I’m sure you’ll both be amazing parents! Parenting advice? Just BE THERE for your kids. Talk to them. Discipline when needed.(By discipline I mean rules, follow through, and boundaries. Please…too many people of our generation don’t.) Really listen. Spend time with them however you can. And try to laugh when times are tough. Finding humor in difficult times will help you through. And, of course, enjoy every moment because suddenly they’re grown. God Bless.

  12. Cheryl says

    I have two boys…ages 17 and 23. They are wonderful and amazing, and I have loved every single second of being their mom. Of course, there were not-so-lovely moments too, but mostly, being their mom has been fun, educational, thrilling and humbling…sometimes all at once. We are a military family, so many times, for months at a time, it was just me and the boys, and I think that went a long way in shaping the relationship that I have with these boys that are now men. The best advice I can give you? Listen to your kids. I mean, really listen. Some days, when they’re little, you might give anything for them to be quiet for a just a few minutes, but they want to talk with you. They want you to know them and they want to know you. When you really listen, you get a front row seat to their imaginations, their sense of humor, their intellect, and to their hopes and dreams. As they grow, you get to have teenagers that will still come talk to you because they trust you to really listen. When they grow up and achieve some of those dreams they shared, you can know in your heart that you helped get them there because you made sure they knew that they were important and could do anything…because you listened.

  13. says

    i have learned that the quieter and calmer i speak…the better they HEAR me. they have to lean in…which then turns into an embrace. even when they are getting a “friendly reminder” to make a better choice…they know i love them. it also teaches respect… xo

  14. Julie says

    Tell your children (child)” I Love You” at random times, of course you do all the time, but those unexpected times mean alot. It rubs off, my son who is 16 said I love you to me while watching a tv show together on the couch the other night. My heart melted, so sweet from a teenager.

  15. Amber says

    The best advice we got when we became parents was to remember that “it’s just a phase.” This helps with the long nights of broken sleep because of teething, to the talking back of an older child.

    Also, parenting knocks you off your feet. It is overwhelming to go from being worried about yourself and your spouse to caring for a child around the clock. You go from being able to make a decision to second guessing everything you do as a parent. And you lose a little freedom. You go from running to the store to figuring out how long you can be away from home until the bus arrives to drop off the kindergartener or how many bottles and diapers to pack for a trip to the grocery. These were all things I didn’t even think about before being a mom.

    But the love you feel for them, sometimes comes on in an instant, others it’s a slower process, will make your knees buckle. It simply amazing how your heart will grow when you get your child. And to see you husband care for your child will make you swoon. Parenting is a wonderful thing.

  16. says

    Hey Layla, I always wanted 6 kids but never found the right guy to have them with and now I can’t have any. :( BUT, I am an aunt and a couple of things come to mind that I’ve done with them – – I always ask when they’ve finished a soccer, football, gymnastics game / class if they had fun, not if they won or not, but if they had fun. As long as they had fun that was all that mattered.
    Another thing I always do is have a pantry & fridge full of fun stuff to eat. They don’t have to ask me if they can have anything – they just get it when they want it and they can have as much as they want! So, we have popsicles for breakfast and cake for supper. Am I the coolest aunt e.v.e.r!!

  17. Netty says

    I just became a parent 7 months ago today and the biggest thing I’ve learned so far is to have the courage to change your mind, trust your gut and listen to what your child is telling you he/she needs. :) It’s awesome…. and you’ll be a great parent and have a great voice for it. :)

  18. says

    Our twins are now 27. We have an awesome relationship.

    Here’s a few things that stand out to me:

    Every child has both universal and unique needs. The discovery of that uniqueness is what parent is all about. Foster that.

    Kids need you the MOST when they are at their worst.

    I never, ever hit my children. They got a time out or privileged revoked when needed.

    They all walk, talk, potty, and dress themselves by the time they go to kindergarten. Don’t freak out comparing your child to others. My twins did NOTHING at the same time as small children-and it all worked out fine.

    As they got older, they had chores, but no curfews.
    Instead, we talked about where they were going, with whom, etc and what a reasonable time to return home would be.
    To become responsible, one has to be given responsibility.

    I insisted on art, music and language. every day.
    READ all the time-limit TV and internet.

    Let them find their passion by trying new things. Kids who have a hobby, a sport, and a passion for something-music, dance, legos-will stay out of trouble.

    The most important thing is just to love the, unconditionally. They will test you on this-many times- but once they know it’s really true, they will unfold the wings of their soul and just soar.

  19. Pam says

    This might need to go down as one of the best posts ever! Parenting or should I say mommying is where my heart sings. I remember reading to my sweet babies while pregnant, Whoever You Are by Mem Fox, and I would get emotional every time. I knew I wanted to mother children that loved God and others without seeing their outer appearance but their hearts. We are doing that and working on keeping it that way each and everyday. I love that my sons still want to share their hearts with me and they are 12 and 10. I have never wished them older, although I can’t say that I wouldn’t mind them slowing down a little, but I have loved them right where they are. I wish you all the best on this journey and I ask that if you have a prayer list for your blogland friends that you will pray for my sister and her husband because they too desire a little one.

  20. Julianna says

    While one might want to rush through bedtime after the kids are at an age where the day wears down a mommy’s brain and she needs solitude, it is the best time to listen. If the hour of sleep is important, start the routine a little earlier so that when they want to talk, even if it’s a tactic to stay awake, or they get out of bed with a superfluous question you, the parents will get to hear that deep thought, insight, or spiritual question and share some–not always– unbelievable moments to cap the day.

  21. says

    Our children are grown and gone, but while they were growing up we tried to ask our kids every night over dinner “what did you learn today that you didn’t know yesterday?”. I think that made them more aware of what they were learning and excited to share with us. And for me (rather ADD), what I share out loud always sticks in my head better.
    I remember someone telling me that those words we got wrong in a spelling test will be the words we will never forget how to spell right for the rest of our lives. So when my kids came home with wrong answers I would tell them ‘good’, now you will never forget the right answer. :)

  22. Janita Gaulzetti says

    Beautiful post…you guys know wisdom when you see it and that will make you good parents! I’m a single mom and have treasured this little bit of advice which appeared in one of Ann Landers’s columns years ago. I probably put it on my bulletin board and fridge when my daughter was 6. She turns 17 this month and I know this to be really true:
    You can use most any measure when you’re speaking of success.
    You can measure it in fancy home, expensive car or dress.
    But the measure of your real success is the one you cannot spend.
    It’s the way your kids describe you when they’re talking to a friend.

    And the poster who suggested whispering — genius!

    Janita

  23. says

    Parenting for me has always been about sharing honestly with my child.No question is off limits..
    that meant, getting down to his level when answering his questions. depending on the age of the child,answer in words appropriate to the age,the key being not the depth and detail of the answer, but listening and replying. My baby is now 46, he will always be my baby, but he also is an adult which i respect..but we also share laughter and giggles, seriousness and frivolity..thoughtfulness,opinions..above all LOVE! it is not uncommon to pick up the phone to hear..Hi Mom, I need a hug..got a few to share and a few minutes to listen? He as a teenager, knowing he could always call collect, rang me up in the middle of the day COLLECT just to say he needed a hug and this was the number to call anytime day or nite!
    my favorite quotation from him uttered as a three year old toddler..:
    “Mommy, know why you are the BEST Mommy in the whole wide world?
    ’cause you NEVER EVER run out of kisses and bandaids!”

  24. tricia says

    The best gift to your children is time! Spend lots of time, talking and listening…really listening. .Makes for the most well adjusted kids ever! You will be terrific parents!

  25. Martha says

    Great post!!! My grandfather was in his mid 90 when I was pregnant with my daughter. He gave me the best advice ever – Treat them right and they will be just fine. I always try to remember that I am the parent but respect runs both ways.

  26. Laura says

    I’m a mom of a 19 month old and am currently 8 months pregnant with our second. Sally Clarkson is an author who I respect so much with regard to motherhood. One line that sticks out of her books to me is “faith, not formulas.” SO MANY books give steps and directions with parenting and it’s very disheartening as a new parent when it’s not working the way you had hoped. I’ve learned more to trust my husband and I’s instincts, not worry about comparing my child’s progress to others, and being okay when my parenting style looks a bit different than my best friend’s. :)

  27. says

    Sweet post. You are right, you will learn the most about parenting when you meet your child and personalities start to interact. I have 3 boys and parenting has simultaneously been everything and nothing like I thought it would be. One nugget of advice I’ll share is to say ‘yes’ to as much as you can because there will be plenty you’ll need to say ‘no’ to.

  28. says

    Remember Heather Beals comment! I just read a few to keep my mind open to the important stuff and that gave me chills. Exactly what we did with our girls!!! Do NOT assume they are too young to understand. I am embarrased to see myself on video. I explained alot of stuff to my oldest on those videos! I think “gosh shut up Kristin!”. Let me tell you–I have two amazingly talented, intelligent, creative girls. I think talking/explaining simple to complex ideas with them is huge. Questions will follow when they can speak. But do this when young–they hear your voice and will pick up on what you say. That and promote/encourage CREATIVITY!!!!! My daughters were “creative monsters” in their younger years. (Still creative but in other ways now:) ) And I have been shown up! I was foolish enough to say I didn’t know if a working candy dispenser could be made from a shoe box. I never again questioned what they could do!! (Good thing because I have been blown away over the years.) I pulled a button and out slid a piece of candy! EXPLAIN and CREATE!!

  29. says

    Love that quote! And what an amazing journey you have had. That is awesome.

    Being consistent and follow through is probably the best advice I have ever heard and the one advice I see other parents dump the fastest. (Although they will still claim to be consistent – and don’t be insinuating otherwise or they will be very offended ;))

    Probably because it is exhausting and when you are really tired because you just got up 50 times – talking toddler years here – then it is just so enticing to stay seated time number 51. If you can still get up, though… more power to you.

    A good piece of advice I got before having B was this: If you don’t want to offer something every time, then don’t offer it the first time. Example: Opening a package at the supermarket and start snacking before getting to the register. This is so cute and awesome the first time, but is it what you want to be doing EVERY time you go to the super market? Or buying that little trinket at the check-out? Once you raise an expectation, it will be there next time and you will have to have the argument about it.

    Here is another good one: Don’t associate food with praise – or punishment. I found it very difficult to do at first because I was raised on those principles, but with a bit of effort, I did it and I have a child who does not associate food with feelings of worth.

    There is so much to think about with kids. It’s fun and exhausting and rewarding all at the same time. I am excited for you to have your own experience with it!

  30. Cory S. says

    I have an 11 year old Autistic son, and two neuro-typical young adult daughters of 23 and 24 years. What I’ve learned with raising the girls through the teenage years has been this military-minded question to myself, when there was conflict: “Is this the hill I want to die on?” If it was, then I stuck to my guns on the issue at hand.

    With my son I had to take a HUGE mind reset when his diagnosis came back as Autism. I educated myself and then began the process of learning how the “mind and world of Darren” works. I’ve learned to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal (so not the old me). What works today may not work tomorrow. Be flexible! I must not be ridged at all in my expectations of what I think raising him should be.

    Just embrace your child’s uniqueness. I like to think of my kids as spinning tops, that if I grab them, then I will stop their momentum, but if I hover near and just lightly tap them back into the right direction, they’ll keep going in that force that is inherent in a top.

  31. Mia B says

    Layla, I have no parenting advice (no kids yet!) but wanted to tell you this post resonates with me so much! DH and I have 15 years together, the last 10 married, and as we get closer to moving to the next step of adding a third to our twosome we spend so much time discussing how we will do things, what our attitudes are about different parts of parenting, etc. It’s amazing, this man I’ve been with for 15 years and the things I’m just learning about him! I’m sure it’s completely a case of “armchair” parenting when we talk about what we plan to do and the reality will not be at all like we think it will be when we have these nightly discussions over a glass of wine. :)

    Just last night, it was a case of the “bedtimes.” It came up in a completely non-parenting discussion (I can’t even remember what we were talking about) but it turns out he wants our theoretical children to have an early bedtime. I never had a bedtime in my whole life. Compromise, much? Ha! I was raised in a very free-form kind of hippie household, and he was raised very conservatively, and that has created the most hilarious discussions of all. Nudity? No big deal. Kids will probably want to be naked most of the time, too. Breast-feeding in public? Why not – you’d eat a burrito in a restaurant, right? Cloth diapers? Of course, it just makes good sense! Ultimately, I think of these talks as a strengthening our partnership, which is always a good thing, especially when we’re contemplating about such a radical upheaval in the form of small fries in the household. Good luck to you both, we are rooting for you!

  32. Julie B.[Holland] says

    My kids are grown up now , but when they were young (girl and boy) I always tried to make what was ever important to them as imporant to me so they seemed to feel that security that they could tell me anything. For example my daughter and her boyfriends , “Mom isnt Tommy’s eyes just beautiful. I would always say and act like I knew how she felt and valiaded her feelings. Over the years I have to say I think my kids have always felt like they could come to me and talk about what was ever on their minds. Every child wants to be heard (dont we all) but I think that is how they search for their boundries and feel secure in their home surroundings. Also being flexible on certain topics when they get older sometimes no two situtations are the same. Being able to listen is key.
    All my best wishes for you two on this journey, may your dreams come true.

  33. Elisa F. says

    I love the advice via Diane and Oprah, and I’m going to use it today!!
    Another wonderful piece of parenting advice I use daily also came to me via Oprah, actually from Toni Morrison when she was on one day. Toni asked of all parents: When your child walks in the room, does your face light up?
    “When my children used to walk in the room, when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. But if you let your face speak what’s in your heart…because when they walked in the room, I was glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see.”
    It might be hard to digest that right now, imagining your precious child and your life with him or her, and the long difficult journey you will have taken to finally be together, and OF COURSE you’ll be so happy see that sweet face every single day. But sometimes the days sort of grind, we get distracted or worried about grown-up things, but if you remember to light up each time, it’s such an amazing gift. A visible, easy to read sign for a child that he or she is cherished.
    You and Kevin will be such amazing parents!

  34. says

    So loved the Diane Sawyer quote! I am going to ask my girls that today after school! “Did you ask any great questions today?” Brilliant!

    Tips: PLAY with your kids! We spent over an hour last night after dinner hitting a big pink playground ball around a circle seeing how long we could keep it in the air. SO. FUN.
    Also, make it a point to eat dinner together every night. Around the table. No TV. No electronics. Just talking and telling stories of each other’s day. This is where we learn things about our kids and teach them.

  35. Kim says

    You and Kev will be awesome parents!!! You have your faith (that’s #1) and you have a ton of love to give. As others have stated, listen and answer their questions, don’t evade them. I am the mom to a 9 yr old boy who has tons of questions. I answer them as best I can and like others, we will find the answers if I don’t know them. One person stated you wouldn’t have time for other things like crafting, etc. That is not true. I was told the same thing. I found time (naps, after bedtime). Do what is in y’alls heart and ask God for guidance.

    • Betsy Derr says

      Just to clarify: I didn’t say you wouldn’t have any time to pursue crafts, etc, I said, ” You will not have the time you now have (for a very long time) to pursue all your own dreams, desires, crafts, projects (fill in the blank). But! It. is. WORTH IT!!!”
      You cannot possibly have as much time with kids as you have without kids to do all you do now.
      Nap time is a great time to accomplish much, and so is night time, you can also rise earlier, but I found I was tired during those times and had laundry, dishes, cooking, dusting, errands, time with hubby and lots more to do during those times and less time to make homemade Christmas ornaments or whatever. Of course, you are the one to decide how to spend your free time. I’m just saying you will not have as much free time.

  36. Jennie Clarke says

    The best advice I ever received when worrying about “will she ever grow out of her pacifier?” was: Your child will not be an adult walking around with a pacifier, or sucking her thumb, or only eating crackers and cheese… etc. Growth happens in it’s own sweet time. Enjoy the moments, and don’t worry so much!

    Also, just be there. Show them that they are your priorty. Show them you want to be with them… and they in turn, will want to be with you. A total win win!

  37. says

    I have only been a mom for seventeen months so I don’t have a lot of advice to give. Besides marriage, parenting is one of the most selfless things you can be a part of. Often time I find my own selfishness getting in the way though: Wishing our little one would just go down for a nap already, skipping playtime with her to finish up a project just so I can have more time to myself when she goes down for a nap, and so many other cases. My husband ms gently reminds me that these moments and stages won’t last forever and just to enjoy them while I can. That’s the best I advice I can give. Enjoy each moment that God blesses you with.

  38. Rene' Foust says

    What a wonderful thought provoking post! I have grandchildren that I am going to begin to ask that question to, I just love it. I have a feeling that you and your husband will make wonderful parents and your children are going to love you with abandon! My children are raising children of their own now and I have been told that I did a wonderful job with both of my children. (not bragging) sorry if it sounds as though I am. But I will tell you what I tell them be sure that your children take ownership of their actions, hold them accountable but love them unconditionally. Keep order in chaos and listen to them. Love them!
    Something tells me you already know all of this.

  39. says

    My kidlets are 6 & 8. They are amazing kids and I do love the questions they ask. In fact, I realized the other day that the routine in our house before a question is raised is always them asking me “Mom, can I ask you a question?” And my response is always “You can ask me anything.”

    And they know I mean it. So they do. Ask me anything.

    Which often leads us to the computer to look up the longest whale, the busiest airport and sometimes the name of that guy who does the voice of the character in this or that movie. I never know what.

    And I love it.
    :)

  40. says

    I love this post!! So glad you were able to spend time with your family. Is this the nephew that lived near us?

    I’ve been a parent for 22 years (yikes!) and I can tell you that the most important thing you can do (whatever their age is) is listen to them…intently. It’s too easy to say mm-hmm as your working or cooking or whatever and only half listening. They know when you are giving them your full attention. It will give them confidence and let them know your value their thoughts and feelings, especially when they reach that stage when they aren’t talking so much anymore (it’ll pass!)

    So excited for you both, you’re going to be amazing parents!!

  41. says

    I think one of the most important things that I have learned in being a parent is to tell children what TO DO instead of what NOT to do. We get so caught up in the Stop! Don’t! Leave that alone! Don’t touch! that we don’t give them an alternative or even an explanation. It’s important to do this from toddlerhood all the way to those teenage years. We need to teach children responsibility and if we are clear on our expectations and direction, they can learn to be more accountable. And, they turn out to be pretty cool people!

  42. Angie says

    I have two grown boys 23 and 20. One is a college graduate with a full time job, living on his own. the other is a second year student at a state university. They are not perfect, but they are good. I have several parenting tips I would like to share:
    1. set the expectations and consequences and stick to it. The first time my youngest son was 5 minutes late for dinner (he was told to be home at five) we grounded him for 3 days. He couldn’t believe it! “but I was only 5 minutes late!”. But from then on he was always home on time or would call if he was going to be late. Which in turn allowed us to give him more freedom.
    2. don’t be afraid to admit that you are wrong. We all make mistakes in the heat of frustration or anger, and say or do things we didn’t intend to. Don’t be afraid to tell your child that you made a mistake and apologize. It’s ok to say “you were right”.
    3. Don’t hold grudges. When it’s over, it’s over. Let it go. Don’t keep reminding your child about incidents.
    4. Pick your battles.
    5. Listen Listen Listen. Don’t offer advice unless asked. It’s amazing how much your child will tell you if you keep your mouth shut and ears open.
    6. Use the car to talk about serious issues when the opportunity presents itself. I can’t tell you how many conversations we had in the car about drugs, drinking, sex etc. Keep the radio off. Even if they’re texting they can hear you.
    7. Make sure your children know what absolutely will not be tolerated: drugs, drinking and driving, etc and reiterate that whenever the opportunity arises.
    8. Don’t do everything for your children. Let them do for themselves whatever is age appropriate. Including making decisions. Give them the options but let them choose and deal with the consequences of their choices (good or bad).
    9. Tell them you love them and tell them often. Let them know how long you waited for them and prayed for them. Tell them this when it is the hardest for you during those frustrating times.
    10. Don’t forget to LAUGH. Have fun and cherish them.

  43. Lonna says

    I love reading all the wisdom above! I have 4 boys 5 and under. I’m learning a lot about serving and humility and never saying never :) What an amazing and transforming process it’s been!
    On the practical side: it’s easy to say No to the millions of request each day, but it sure isn’t fun to hear no all the time, I don’t want to be a “dream squasher.” Also, despite the urge to rush or hurry my kids when it’s time to go, it’s best to refrain. The mood set by rushing them frustrates me, sends them spiraling and in the end does not make anything quicker or easier! It’s best just to plan on leaving early always, or be ok with being late!

  44. Aimee says

    I love Diane Sawyer! I agree, her voice is so soothing. And my goodness, just what does that woman put on her face? I think she’s in her 60’s but looks sooo much younger.

    My parents never shielded us from life’s pain and disappointments when we were children. As a result, we learned how to cope (with their encouragement and support, of course!). Even though that’s a really important skill to have, moms don’t like to talk about it because it’s not a “warm and fuzzy” part of parenthood. Best of luck to you on your journey.

  45. says

    I was an extremely young mother and feel I didn’t do that good of a job. BUT.. with my grandchildren I am intentionally different. When they are here, which they are a lot. :), I make the time to do things with them. Doing the things they want. And most importantly, I listen!!! I have found each of the 5 to be so funny and entertaining and smart and different. Their Papa and I will spend at least an hour after they leave every time just going over the things they have said or done. And we are usually laughing the whole time. :D
    My best advice to new/young parents is listen and play. A LOT!! I have thought about you and Kevin even when I wasn’t reading your blog, and how I wished I had had your heart and desire when I was younger. I know I can’t go back but am determined to leave a lasting, loving impression on my grandkids. I can’t wait to see the little person God places under your wings!

  46. Orghlaith says

    Our son is mentally and physically disabled. We needed to find calm ways of teaching and reinforcing lessons. We use ‘Show me…” and a lot of laughter. Sometimes we misinterpret what he is saying (making mistakes and laughing about it). And we always touch and hug, especially during corrections. Letting our son know that mistakes are good things and not to be punished has helped him learn to accept his handicaps. We also make certain that he sees us admitting mistakes and correcting them. He is a loving, happy, hard working adult now.

  47. says

    “he told me he loved me “deeper than the part of the ocean with sharks in it” that day.” -You totally made my day Layla!! I think I would have started crying right there and then if it were me. There is just something about a child describing love that hits you right in the heart. Had a similar experience this weekend. My eldest turned 13 and I wrote a little something about how I feel about him on my Facebook page….well he read it…..tears welled up in his eyes and he ran over to me and hugged me tighter than I have ever felt! Of course I started cryin’ too….. Nothing like a childs love- whether it’s your own child or a nephew that shared some love on a beach- thanks so much for sharing as always. You never fail to put a smile on my face. YOU ROCK!!

  48. Lisa W. says

    WHEW…well I have 3 children and I can simply say LOVE THEM…love them with all you got…that doesn’t mean to let them mis-behave by any means but LOVE THEM, that doesn’t mean by any means to let them not grow and learn from their own mistakes…ect. but JUST LOVE THEM!!! They are each different in their own ways but I don’t know ONE person on this earth that does not want to be loved exspecially by Mom:)

  49. Jill P. says

    Layla, I love your blog and you and Kevin are such an inspiration. I am a mom of 4 kids. My oldest was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and has been scanned twice since the end of his treatments and found to be disease free! You will receive all kinds of wanted and unwanted advice on parenting. #1, Pray, pray, pray. And when you feel all prayed up, pray some more! #2. Take all advice with a grain of salt. You will be the leading expert on your child. You will be their advocate. And don’t let discipline intimidate you. In the Bible it says that God disciplines us because He loves us as His own. I explain this to my own children, that I don’t discipline them simply because I want them to do things my way, but that I’m helping them to grow, because I love them. #3. Pray some more! You and Kevin will be wonderful parents! Keep looking up and let the Joy of the Lord be your strength!!

  50. says

    Wow, such an exciting time of preparation for you two! One thing I would say is that it’s great to be intentional about parenting (which you two are, discussing parenting styles); but you will find so many moments/situations/circumstances in which intention will go out the window — whether you want it to or not. So my advice to you is to keep your heart wide open at all times, your sense of humor firmly intact, and be prepared to spend a lot of time on your knees in prayer. Sounds simple, but it’s actually not! We have 5 kids, ages 26-14, so we’ve kind of run the gamut.
    Praying for wisdom for you both… :). And the greatest happiness that goes along with parenting.
    xo Heidi

  51. shar y says

    Play with your kids! Seriously, get down on the floor with them and play as if you were both kids, too! I have experienced what happens when you do that and it is awesome!

    P.S. I can’t wait til you get to start!!

  52. Erin Rizzo says

    Great post. I have three kids, two of whom are autistic & one with learning disabilities. My oldest, & only girl, just turned 16. I spent years trying to control & fix everything. What I am, have finally learned, is first, it goes by way too quickly, second, “It is, what it is & just let it be. Appreciate & acceptance. Don’t forget to have fun. No matter how tough it can be, acceptance, appreciate & fun makes for a great life.
    Many blessings on your journey.
    Erin

  53. Lacey says

    You are your child’s greatest advocate and sometimes their voice. Speak up and be inspired and follow your gut. Get over your own insecurities (this is hard one!) and follow your gut. School, friends, family, sports, whatever — have their back. Let them fight their own battles, let them make mistakes and let them pay the consequences, but always, ALWAYS, have their back. Most importantly, make sure they know it. :)

  54. says

    I was a young mom (19) and had no ideal what I was doing. (It isn’t like there was an instructional manual, haha) All I knew there was this little person depending on me for everything. I was raised in a very VERY dysfunction home. I knew I didn’t want that for my daughter. For me, I basically did the opposite of what I had been raised with. I was always honest with my daughter. I am sure I could have been more patient. I have regrets. I have apologized to my daughter about things that I thought I did wrong. However, she assured me I was a great mom :-) My daughter and I are very close (I mean we practically grew up together) She is almost 27, never EVER in any kind of trouble (she’s a little mouthy at times but she gets that honestly, haha), she graduated HS, attended college, she is married, and employed full time. No kids yet and they are in the process of buying their first home. I must have done something right

    My advice-Always let your child know you love them unconditionally. It is ok to make mistakes–just own up to them. Let them know they can talk to you about ANYTHING–you may not agree with their choices but you will always be supportive. That you AREN’T perfect and you don’t expect them to be either. Let them know there is more to life than success and success is is different for each person.Embrace their individuality. That beauty comes from with, an ugly personality is just an ugly person! Teach them to value a sense of humor! Teach them it is ok to be strong and independant but to not be afraid to ask for help when needed. The biggest piece of advice-is to make sure they take time to take care of themselves. That sometimes it is ok to put yourself first. Because is you aren’t strong and healthy- you can’t be strong and healthy for your family.

    I am thankful I was blessed with such an amazing daughter. She is my pride, my joy and my heart. She has made me laugh, cry, shout with joy and screech with anger–I would not change a second of it. It has been the hardest job I have ever had. But I would gladly walk through the bowels of hell if it meant she was in my life. I am proud to call her my daughter and more proud to claim her as a friend

    Best wishes to you and Kevin on the most amazing journey of your life!

  55. Karen says

    These are the most important things I’ve learned about parenting: listen with your eyes AND your ears so your child has your full attention, say yes more than you say no, talk with them and not to them, let them fail, and tell them evey day that you love them, even if they drew on the wall, pulled the cat’s tail, or wrecked the car! Being a parent is a journey with a few (a lot of?) bumps along the path. What counts most is whom you travel with and that you hold hands along the way. My children are 17, 23 and 27 and they fill my life with immeasurable joy.

  56. says

    “The decision to have a child is momentous. It is forever to have a child go walking around outside your body.” [Elizabeth Stone] When I ask any of my seven grown children what is the most important thing they learned growing up, almost to a person they say “roots and wings”. They always knew whatever they tried, they had a soft landing place. While a parent may not always like their children’s ‘actions’, they need to be assured that for it-you will not love them less!

  57. Harbormom says

    As you expect, you will learn most of your skills “by the seat of your pants,” as you love and nuture your child. I would encourage you two, however, to seek out a STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) class in your area. Usually facilitated through a church or school, the skills taught will teach you communication methods used from toddlerhood, through adolescence, teenage and even adult years. The most important skills I learned initially (and still use today) were: Always use “I” messages; never “You.” Instead of, “You shouldn’t / musn’t / can’t / won’t” etc., I learned to say, “We don’t [do whatever the offending behavior was]; or “I don’t like it when you ….” By the same token, “I really LOVE IT when you ….”
    The other was what is called reflective listening. Instead of asking a little child “why” something, we would say to a crying child, “You seem sad” or “upset” or “angry,” and continue to reflect whatever emotion they are exhibiting until they can be coaxed to giving up the real reason for their tears. Tattling was always a pet peeve of mine and, whenver one of mine would come to me witha complaint that someone had hit, or grabbed, etc., I learned to say, “What happened just before he/she hit, grabbed, etc.” I believe anything parents can do to foster a positive self-image (that means private, not public, discipline, even if it means a quick walk to a restroom or back to the car), and to encourage mutual respect (allowing a child to express how he/she feels about the discipline being meted out by the parent, and giving an age-appropriate child a say-so in the discipline) will not only benefit the child, but will benefit all those who encounter that child during his/her lifetime. And it will certainly cement the bond between the parent and child. Just know this, you two wonderful young people, the very, very best part of your life is just about to begin. Every year, when I send birthday cards to my two (ages 34 and 38), I write, “I wish you were just born today, so we could do this all over again.” And I mean it with all my heart.

  58. judy says

    My son is now 31 and has a son of his own. However, once a mom always a mom. So my prayer all of his life (and continues to this day) is this:
    “Lord, please help me to be the kind of mother that my child needs me to be at this moment in time.”

  59. Laura says

    My mother in law recently gave my husband and I some good advice. The first bit of advice was “talk to your children calmly, and they will speak calmly” (advice given during our son’s recent “whiny stage”), The second, “make sure and tell him he is a good boy, children believe what they hear”. Not earth shattering advice by any means, but something about the simplicity of both remains with me each day.
    Best of luck to you both on your journey! :)

  60. Amanda W. says

    As a mother of three (15,13, 8) one of my “parenting tools” that I have been using since my kiddos were babies is setting expectations- BEFORE we enter a situation. Rather it be entering a store and NOT being asked to buy something, no touching, etc. has carried over into how to act at friends, school, grades, etc. as they have gotten older. It lets them know what is expected of them and sets boundaries for them is a way that makes it easy for them to succeed. It’s easier to behave if you know what your mom and dad are wanting from you!!

  61. Denise says

    let them experience life–the good, the bad, the ugly, dont try to fix everything for them. Let them experience disappointment when they didnt give their best effort, sadness for a loss, embarassment for the “oops in life”, shame for bad behavior, pride in thier own accomplishments, callused hands for hard work, compassion for others who are hurting, joy in the simpler things in life, except responsibility for own actions, appreciation for justice, honesty, the beauty of creation & teach them to see & value others as God does.

  62. Renee says

    1. Be intentional – LISTEN more than you talk
    2. See them through eyes of DELIGHT – everyday – all day
    3. Natural consequences are the best teachers.
    4. Love, Love, Love
    5. Laugh, Laugh, Laugh
    6. The time they are at their worst and say “go away” is the time they need you more than ever – BE THERE! They slam the door – stand beside it and say I will never leave you, we are in this together and we will figure it out together.
    7. Forget mistakes – remember successes
    8. Remember your main “job” as a parent is to help your child find their “uniqueness” “purpose” “voice” – and have the wings to soar with it and make the world a better place.

  63. says

    Since my 10 year old was sitting next to me while I read this I asked him if he asked any great questions today at school and he said yes! He said he asked if he could go to the bathroom and if he had to do his worksheet with a partner. Lol! He must have not understood the “great” part. I think the one thing I strive for is to have mutual respect for each other. It sounds simple, but it really makes everything else fall into place.

  64. says

    “It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” ~ Ann Landers
    Such wonderful comments! Mine may repeat some of them:
    – Be present. I see too many parents who practice what I call “lazy parenting,” ignoring their children running around instead of spending time with them to help them learn good behavior.
    – Give them tools. Teach them how to handle their emotions, how to deal with success as well as failure, how to be still and access their inner stillness when needed. How to notice the littlest of things.
    – Notice them. Be aware of mood shifts. If something feels off, trust your instincts as a parent.
    – Instead of focusing on punishment for bad behavior, focus on helping them learn how to change their behavior. Punishment alone doesn’t give them the tools they need to behave differently.
    – Eat together. Go outside and play together. Get down on the floor with them. Give them your attention and teach them how to give you theirs.
    – Make sure they interact with people of every age, from the very old to the very young. Also, interact with people of all different faiths, social groups, races, etc. Let them see that we are all more alike than we are different.
    May your journeys be blessed with love.

  65. Tracy says

    Not a parent, but I do get a ton of insight from my brother and sister in law as they have two little ones, two and four.

    They both do A LOT of reverse psychology with the kids. If she wants a pic of them and they have no interest she tells them no smiles only unhappy faces and before you know it, they’re hamming it up in front of the camera. When they went through the “terrible twos” with a meltdown, both my brother and his wife would look a their son and say “let me know when you are done” and walk away. If she wants them to clean their plate, my sister in law will tell them “you won’t be able to eat all that” and they do and then brag at how good they did and get praised in return. All in all, they are extremely well behaved FUN and LOVING and SHARING little ones. They’ve never been spanked and when my sister in law has had it with something she takes them one by one and makes them look at her in the eye and she tells them what she needs and it always ends with an “I’m sorry” or a hug and an “I love you”.

    They’re special little boys to me and I am filled with love and joy every time I see them. Cherish these moments……..life goes way too fast – xoxo

  66. Tracy r says

    There are as many different ways to parent a child as there are personalities in the world, you will find and grow to trust that unique rhythm you discover as a family. And ask for help if you need it…us moms don’t do this enough. God Bless you

  67. says

    My grown kids (I have 6, last two still at home), tell me the part they appreciated the best about how we parented them was our ability to just say “I’m sorry” when needed as well as “I don’t know”. ‘Cause most of the time you really don’t. They liked that we didn’t pretend to be perfect.

    They’ve also mentioned that staying ‘friends’ with us thru high school instead of hating us as per the usual, was hugely facilitated by how we set the limits, then explained why. Instead of just laying down the law. I should say my kids are awesome, but we’ve had our struggles too. They aren’t perfect, but they were perfect for us.

    Forgive the indulgence, but I wrote and recorded a song for my first born’s wedding day, and reminded him in it what I used to tell him (and his siblings) all the time….I was so thankful they were given to ME, and not someone else. Here’s a link to the song/collage if you want to hear it: http://cottageinstincts.blogspot.com/2010/03/so-i-wrote-and-recorded-this-little.html

    PS: NEVER wish you were anything other than what you are. You are a bright, animated shining star….and your voice will be the most beautiful sound your child will ever hear. :)

  68. Becki Foster says

    My motto was: I love my children and I want others to love (like) them too! They were good kids and now are great parents to our 4 grandchildren. Their patience amazes me.

  69. Kim says

    My piece of advice? Don’t blink. If you do, that baby, that toddler, that preschooler…will suddenly be in his/her thirties…all grown up! No matter what the situation is, remember that this, too, shall pass, so enjoy the good times, don’t make the bad times about yourself, and love your children!

  70. Bernie says

    My advise? Don’t blink! My babies that were born yesterday, are now 28,30, & 32. It goes by FAST! (by the way, my adult daughter lives in Navarre Bch). AND
    Label your pictures….you never think you wont be able to tell which kid you are looking at until you identify them this way…. “It must be Bobby, because we got the blue sofa when he was a baby.”
    Dont say “my child would never do that”, because they will.
    If you want an easy stress free life, dont have children.
    Children will bring you the greatest joys, but also the greatest source of worries……and it doesnt get any easier when they are adults! ENJOY THE RIDE!

  71. Bernie says

    hahaha. I hadn’t even read Kim’s “dont blink” response, until AFTER I had written the same thing!

  72. Debi says

    I’m a 7th grade middle school teacher and my favorite part of teaching are the questions my students ask. We OFTEN get off on tangents and wonder “how the heck did we get here”? But, it is the kids that ask the questions that I tell my two adult children or my friends about. It is those kids who challenge me with questions (that I sometimes have to look up right then) that have kept me teaching for 36 years.

  73. Jane Meeker says

    The quieter we speak…. the better chance they will listen.

    Dinner time is family time: What was the best thing about your day….worst? etc.

    Kids like to know what to expect about the days plans…share and plan together~ each of you with a list.

  74. Stacy P. says

    Wow! Lots of advice–as the mom of 3…a teen, a tween and a 7 yo boy, all I can offer up is two things… BE CONSISTENT – Parenting is not a “fair” thing. It is a consistency thing. So do what you say and say what you’ll do.
    And EXPECT THE BEST OF YOUR CHILDREN – this means in all things. It doesn’t mean your child is perfect (though they all are), it means you expect them to do their best–their most excellent work/behavior/attitude. We have found when we expect excellence from our kids, they deliver beyond our wildest dreams.
    Leave everything else up to the Lord and you’ll be fine.

    Love your blog—you’ll be super duper parents!

  75. Barbara says

    Be consistent. Practice natural and logical consequences. You and Kev be a team. Have fun; laugh a lot. And last but not least, pray, pray, pray!! (I’ve got a daughter 27 and a son 24 and I still pray, pray, pray!!)

  76. Carin says

    Beautiful post! There is a lot of great advice coming in. My two cents: Since you’re lucky enough to be parenting with your partner, remember to look to each other’s best qualities when you’re in need. Learn to balance each other, and hold hands while you enjoy the ride!

  77. Lisa says

    I’m not a mother, so I don’t have specific parenting advice, but I have great parents, and the three things they did in raising me that have had the most impact are: 1) Living their faith daily; 2) Reading to me daily and encouraging me to read; 3) Constantly having music playing in the house and car. These instilled in me a lifelong commitment to faith, reading and music.

  78. Amanda says

    What a wonderful post! One I desperately needed to read today. My husband and I are raising 3 daughters ages 18, 13 and 9…soon to be 10. We are going through some growing pains lately and I come to your blog for a bit of a “heart jumpstart”. We always asked our girls to tell us 3 things they learned that was good when they got into the car after school. It gave us a chance for them to tell us something instead of answering “Nothing” to the what did you learn today question.

    The best piece of advice I ever got for parenting was this. You will screw up. You will screw up bad. It does not mean it is the end of the world. It means we are human and fallible and things will happen that will not be our finest parenting moments. LEARN from them and apologize to your kids when you do screw up. Make it a REAL apology, not one that comes with a but. Your kids will learn about humanity and true apologies and how to forgive.

    I wish you all the best with your adoption journey. Whatever child is placed with you will be very blessed indeed!

  79. Patricia says

    I have this little quote, cut out from a newspaper, that I saved before my first child was born – she is now 25 years old……The quote says “Before I became a Mother, I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children . Now I have 7 children , and only one theory – Love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved.” Written by Kate Samperi and published in the Los Angeles Times at least 25 years ago !

  80. Kim says

    I am the mother of an eleven year old son. I never thought I would be the kind of parent that I am. I never thought that my entire world and thought and action would revolve around my child. I never thought it would be hard to have him go to daycare, or school, or let a coach take over and tell him what to do. I ended up working half time because I couldn’t let other people get more time with him than I got. My life might not be the best balanced, but I know that when he is old enough to be out with his friends without me, I will know that I made the most of his childhood years so that we have a strong bond (and my husband too).

    BREATHE – when your little one is upset, hold him/her close and take deep breaths. It helps them calm, and it will help you too!

    DON’T JUMP – when they fall and you are sure they are hurt, stand back and wait to see their reaction before you jump. Quite often, they cry because we make them think they should.

    LISTEN & ANSWER – my son asks amazing questions. Quite often I don’t know the answer right away, but when I don’t, we either ask someone else or look it up. I have received quite an education this way!

    LOTS OF VIDEO – like I need to say this, but it’s so awesome to watch video from days gone by. It’s amazing how wuickly they change and how quickly you forget some of their little sayings.

    And lastly, just when you think you’ve got it all figured out and everything is going predictably smooth, it all changes!

    Enjoy this stage of your life! “Expecting” is so much fun because you just don’t know what path your life will take next!

  81. Dee says

    Just enjoy each moment. Really. My only child is now 31 and when I think back to all the times that I felt busy, distracted, etc., I regret that I didn’t just live in the moment and enjoy each one and not let other distractions steal some of those times away from me!

  82. Sunny Beamish says

    What a sweet moment..thank you for sharing it with all of us. Isn’t it so cool that we can be touched by the “ahh;s” in other’s lives..God made it so.
    My son is 24, and it still seems so special when we have those moments..my best parenting tip is to pray through it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. When they are teenagers and hating you. and you don’t like them much either ..God is our heart’s refuge. who leads us through.
    Telling my son occasionally that “I love him more than” …is a tradition we have shared for years…( ie all the postcards being mailed that day in all the world while he was in South Africa) is my way of letting him know he is one of the most special blessings in my life..
    I believe God picks us for them and them for us…
    So excited for your time to come.

  83. Sylvia says

    Pray… for your child and with your child. Never miss an opportunity to tell your child about our heavenly Father and the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Tell the story of the amazing salvation by grace through faith. This is what is truly important; the things of eternity.

  84. MelO says

    ‘Read Aloud’ and often!! I always thought that when as parents we are told to read to our children regularly, that it had to do with getting them interested in books so that it would carry on into their lives!! I thought my work was done when both my children had learnt to read themselves! Tick!! But then I picked up the book ‘The Read Aloud Handbook’ – Jim Trelease, and wished I had read it decades ago!! Must read!! It brings about a bonding experience like no other, as you share with your child experiences they might otherwise never know, expanding their language and comprehension skills, which will hold them in good stead as they enter their school and life!!

    • MelO says

      It seems there is a common denominator in the responses – talk, listen!! What better way than when reading!! Children ask a lot of question when you are reading together! It’s important to be patient and allow for it!!

  85. Kathy K. says

    Just be there, listen to your child, they’ll let you know what they’re thinking or need from you. Never yell unless they are in danger of hurting themselves. Make sure they feel safe, if they can’t sleep or they’re scared, be with them, don’t leave them alone. Build trust and never lie. If you say you’re going to be there at 4:00pm, be there a little early. Trust is number 1, as they get older, they will come to you for the big decisions in life. Celebrate God, lead by example. Also, be honest about your shortcomings and failures. It makes you human and approachable. Don’t make fun of them, they will make mistakes and feel embarrassed. Be fun, smile a lot, and hug and kiss your child(ren) often. Oh and it’s VERY important to say no, and be consistent!
    Layla, you will be an exceptional mother. You have a mother’s heart. :)

  86. says

    What a lovely post! Enjoyed every word and picture. My one piece of advice would be to read to your children. No matter how hold they are, read to them. As they get a bit older, read things that will challenge their mind, make them as those great questions. My two daughters are now 22 and 24 and rarely are they without a book (or Kindle!). Rarely had to deal with I’m bored when they were younger, because they always knew they could loose themselves in a good book. It has made them curious enough about some subjects to explore them as adults. Things like travel and career! Children do love the sound of our voices and reading to them provides a sense of security and closeness. We spent many an afternoon with a snuggle and a good book. Even now my daughters will snuggle in when I am reading and ask “what-cha readin”!!

  87. JolieAnne says

    I am a mother of 3 sons all 4 years apart-planned that, too. I don’t really believe that parenting can be taught-you rely on instincts mostly. How to diaper, feed, burp can be taught, of course. But you will know what to say and do because you have opened up your heart to accept a child, the love is there! Trust your feelings
    and be in the moment. Of course I listened to other Moms and I got tons of info from other parents but I knew what to do and it felt right. I do believe you have all it takes to be loving parents and will enjoy this journey-as you will find out, it isn’t always easy but so worth it. I think listening is key! I know God will bless you!

  88. Courtney says

    The best parenting advice that I ever got was from my mom who had nine kids and told me, “never do anything for your kids that they can do for themselves”. When we were old enough, we all cooked, did laundry, walked ourselves to school, packed our own lunches and did the dishes. We put our own clean sheets on our beds and put away our clean clothes. It definitely made me a more confidant wife and mother!

  89. says

    Here’s the advice I grew up with (thanks, Mom!): Remember, when you’re single, you answer to no one. When you’re married, you need to put him first, ahead of yourself, and you should come last. The COUPLE is what’s important. When you have children, the children have to come first, the family second (the family takes the place of the couple), he comes third, and you come last. Of course, no matter what, God does come FIRST, but I’ve never forgotten these words, and the best part? I found someone who grew up with the same shining example so we have never once disagreed about the importance of our families, our children…
    He was married before, and the two of us have always chosen to put his children first. This is why now they are the children of my heart, even though I didn’t give birth to them.

  90. Stacie says

    I am the mother of a wonderful 12 year old boy, who very soon will be a man. I have made many mistakes over the last 12 years. No regrets, just mistakes. Making mistakes is apart of parenting. I have found that the most important part of parenting is listening. Often parents think their kids are not listening to them, but trust me, they hear every word. Since my son was small I have always told him that with enough hard work and determination he can accomplish anything. Recently, I decided to open my own business. I was sitting at the table working diligently on my “master plan” lol, when my son walks up and puts his arms around me and says; “with enough hard work and determination you can accomplish anything.” That was a defining moment in my life as a parent. They listen, they love, they seek discipline, they seek acceptance, they are miracles of God and we have been given the task of living up to the task of parenting a child of God. It is a task I have failed at times and exceeded in others, but it is the most wonderful part of my life.

  91. gourmet goddess says

    dear kevin and layla , when the time becomes that you become parents and a family of three , your life will change for ever for the better ,

    my husband and i learnt that parenting does not come with a manual. there is no perfect way to do things but as the parents of two girls ages 13 and 10 we would not have it any other way.

    the most precious time for us is dinner time when our girls recount they days events – oh the detail they provide , the laughter that explodes around our table – the line of communication we foster by encouraging them to talk about their day and in turn they now ask us what our day was like ,… get the picture – they look forward to this family time together and save things to say .

    dinner around the table , with no technology , completley priceless !!!!!

    best of luck with the adoption

    gg

  92. Kerri Hillis says

    I loved that interview. Did you hear her when she paraphrased Leonard Cohen saying, “In the broken places, the light shines through”? That struck a chord with me! I had that written on my board for months. It reminded me that while I’m inherently broekn (aren’t we all? :)), good will come up it.

  93. jody says

    oh you guys …you will LOVE being parents and you will be AMAZING parents – because you are planning, thinking, & being aware of what it means/looks like/feels like to be a parent.

    I use Diane’s quote of asking what good questions did you ask today? & we also ask our boys what mistakes did you make today? Letting our boys know its okay to make mistakes, its okay to mess up and what did we learn from these lessons? “Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow” is a fun quote too. Just takes the pressure off of these little ones – and to remind them parents & kids make mistakes all the time!! And it’s okay!!!

  94. 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!

  95. 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.

  96. 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.

  97. 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.

  98. 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.

    Blessings,
    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!!

  99. 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!

  100. 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!

  101. 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. :)

  102. 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!!!

  103. 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

  104. 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) ..my 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…

  105. 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.

    Christina

    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!

  106. 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.

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

  109. 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.

  110. 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.

  111. 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.

  112. 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…

  113. 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!
    Katie

  114. 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.

  115. 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!

  116. 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. . .

  117. 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. :)

  118. 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 ;)

  119. 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.

  120. 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, http://www.ahaparenting.com. You’ll be phenomenal!

  121. 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, etc..you’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 it..it goes by so fast….and know that God is with you…helping you all along the way.

  122. 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!

  123. 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.
    xoxo

  124. 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.

  125. 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!

  126. 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.

  127. 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

  128. 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.

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