Thanks so much for coming by to check out Episode 165 of The New Family Podcast where we take a look back at some of the best parenting advice we received this year.
Becoming a parent is hard work — after all “it takes a village to raise a child.” You are expected to know everything immediately after you’ve just given birth as if being a parent is easy and not scary whatsoever. You are reading about goat milk vs cow milk formula, how to put on a diaper and how you should put your newborn to bed. Not to mention every year your child grows is another year with a new set of rules. If you are a new parent, you will need a lot of help. It doesn’t matter whether you get this help from your parents, your friends or a site like Best For Parents (visit their website if you’re interested), as long as you are learning and doing your best then that’s all anyone can ask. And we like to do our bit to help which is why if you listen to the show regularly, you’ll know that almost every episode ends with the question, “What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received.” As you can imagine, over the course of a year we gather a lot of sage words from parents just like you and me. My team and I have gone through all those pearls of wisdom and put together this roundup of some of the best parenting advice we heard in 2017. You’ll hear about everything from a babysitter checklist to the best sleep routine. We thought that would be a good way to look back on the year we’ve had while highlighting some good things to keep in mind as we go forward with our families into a new year. Thank you, everyone, for listening over the course of this year. I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year.
Here are some resources related to this episode.
Best Parenting Advice of 2017
“The best piece of parenting advice I’ve ever received wasn’t necessarily about parenting but it was something that helped me so much with parenting, which was to accept things as they are and to try to surrender to the moment as much as you can. Because when you go into parenting you try to control things and it never really works out. Of course, our job as parents is to guide our kids and try to give them the tools that they’re going to need but as much as you can just accept things the way they are, surrender to the moment and things can flow in a much more holistic and positive way.” -Devorah Blachor, author, The Feminist Guide to Raising a Little Princess: How to Raise a Girl who’s Authentic, Joyful and Fearless – Even if She Refuses to Wear Anything But a Pink Tutu, Episode 162
“This also reflects what I’ve struggled with the most, and that is simply stepping away and asking for help. So knowing I do not have to do it alone, that raising a family and raising children is certainly the work of communities and that’s how we’ve done it before. That taking a moment for myself, taking a moment to reground myself, re-find myself and know that I can ask for that kind of help will serve me, will serve my child, will serve my marriage and our family really well.” -Paulina Cameron, author, Canada 150 Women: Conversations with Leaders, Champions and Luminaries, Episode 161
“Hands down, the best piece of parenting advice I ever received was from Alyson Schafer. I was talking to her on the phone and I was like ‘I got to ask you – what’s the secret of parenting?’ Very cooly, very calmly she said to me ‘You really just have to raise them to be part of a group.’ The more I have thought about that over the years, the more life has unfolded, that could not be any truer. I think we make parenting very complicated and we get caught up in the shoulds and shouldn’t haves.” -Leisse Wilcox, blogger, Episode 160
“I asked all my listeners of the Happier Podcast, ‘What’s your advice for sending a child off to college?’ And the best advice [I got] – and this is something that is true from the time you have a newborn baby – was when somebody said, ‘This is an end but it’s also a beginning and you should look forward to this as a new exciting chapter in your family life. You’re going to have new adventures, you’ll have your new favorite restaurants, you’ll have your inside jokes – you’ll have everything that you share. Some people think it’s the end of childhood but it’s the beginning of something else. And by the way, this will pass very, very quickly so enjoy it while it’s happening.’ So don’t waste it being full of regret; every end is also a beginning and only through change can we grow. My other advice is to have professional pictures taken of your children. You take so many quick pictures and you think, ‘oh they’re amazing’ but in the end, a professional photograph that’s well-lit on nice paper by a professional is so much better.” -Gretchen Rubin, author, The Happiness Project, Episode 156
“I’m going to think of people who were kind of mentors to me, who had children before I did and when I think of my bestfriend, Ellie, and my sister – one thing that they always did is that in a restaurant, they had tons of games, toys and activities. There was never an iPhone or ignoring their kids at restaurants, it was like really family together time. And I have become an addict with little games and toys that can really fit in my pocket book that we can just use in restaurants. And we’ve come up with all kinds of fun games and, actually, time out eating dinner as a family has been some of our best time, so I’m grateful for that little advice.” -Dr. Catherine Pearlman, professor and author, Ignore It! How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Decrease Behavioral Problems and Increase Parenting Satisfaction, Episode 154
“I think we rarely hear parents teaching girls that they should have positive sexual relationships, that their sexual pleasure is something they deserve, that is normal and healthy. So think, starting with period positivity, that is a great way to get on the road to emphasizing that women’s bodies are great, they’re healthy and it’s great to have one and there’s a lot of pleasures to be had and to be a mature woman. That you deserve a positive experience – you shouldn’t get into relationships where perhaps you’re only interested in your partners’ pleasures, that you are deserving of pleasure, too.” -Dr. Robyn Stein DeLuca, psychologist and author, The Hormone Myth: How Junk Science, Gender Politics and Lies about PMS Keep Women Down, Episode 153
“I think the best piece of parenting advice I received was more about a general philosophy of attachment parenting. I think all of the research that I did when I was young, and the relationship I built up with my doula, who was an attachment parent, allowed me to foster this attachment with my kids when they were young and this intense closeness that I think will keep them close to me forever even if we maybe are apart physically or even if other people intervene in our relationship. Those years are very precious, you will miss them so much. They really do create a bond that is hard to break and you never know what might happen later on. You never know if your children will go through a teenage rebellion period or if divorce might make things difficult or what may come. Using that time that you have with them when they worship you and think that you are absolutely perfect, and want to spend all that time with you, using that time wisely to make the most of it that you can according to your circumstances and to really be present during those moments, I think will help you in the future when any number of things can intervene in your life that you may not expect.” -Natasha Clark, creative director, Risk Creative, Episode 148
“The one piece [of advice] that has really stuck with me, it came from a friend of mine who has kids who are older. One of them just turned 14, so she’s ahead of me by a few years, and she always has these little nuggets that I take from her that are great. One piece of advice she gave me which I really took to heart and I feel was super valuable, was the fact that no matter how busy you get, because everybody gets super busy and there’s always these distractions specially in our digital age, but she said no matter how busy you get, make sure you take, even if it’s just five minutes every day, to just sit down and really connect. Like look into your kids eyes and have a real conversation with them and really connect with them. Whether it’s just hugging them, or just looking into their eyes and telling them how important they are to you, or asking them what the worst and best part of their day is…just having that emotional connection with them and making them feel that they’re special and showing them how much you care about them.” -Jackie Burns, writer, The Condo Kids: Adventures with Bob the Barbary Sheep, Episode 146
“For my own parenting advice, all you can really do is just hope for the best that you’re creating a decent human being. That’s all we expect from our kids, we expect them to be kind, friends to their neighbors and good-hearted people. Other than that, nothing really else matters.” -Erica Lundmark, realtor, Hockey Wives star, Episode 145
“I have to say there’s one thing that has stuck out to me and that I think still is relevant today. And I’m actually not even sure if it was advice that I received or something that I just kind of made up as I went along, and that is that life does not revolve around baby – baby fits into life. And I feel like I definitely tried to follow that as my daughter has grown up. If I need to go somewhere or want to do something, she just comes along. And she’s had a variety of experiences that way. Just strapped her to me and taken her to meetings or to tours or to other museums. I think she’s better for it.” -Dr. Deepali Dewan, art historian, Episode 143
“Even now, I hate it the most, but I find myself saying it sometimes, is that ‘You just wait.’ People always do that. You’ll just make one stage and they’ll go ‘Oh, you just wait until they start walking,’ and you’re like ‘I’m barely dealing with this. Did you have to tell me that something else bad is going to happen?’ Just try to avoid the ‘you just wait’ comment. And every kid is so different so you can’t say that another parent’s experience will be like your experience at all. Another thing I learned is that all the tough stuff that feels like it’s going to be forever is not forever.” -Chevy Stevens, author, Still Missing, Episode 140
“I wish I could remember who gave it to me, but I pass it on to every single, new mother that I encounter. When my first son was born, he was very colicky. You don’t know what you’re doing, it’s really difficult. Of course I had Elizabeth and friends around but it is very, very hard in the beginning. Somebody said to me ‘It’s okay to think it’s hard.’ She actually said it in a more crude way. But the truth is it’s okay to not like it sometimes, and to forgive yourself for thinking ‘Gosh, this is just really, really hard.’ Too often, we’re way too hard to on ourselves as parents, and when you sort of give yourself that little bit of pass for feeling like it’s hard and not always feeling like this is the most perfect thing in the world then it makes it a little easier.” -Melissa DePino, founding partner, Leapfrog Group & co-author of Pretty Little World, Episode 139
“I think so often of an Anna Quindlen quote, I don’t have the exact quote in front of me, but I read it when my kids were young. She wrote, after her kids were a little older, that she wished she hadn’t spent so much time worrying about getting them fed, getting them bathed, getting them to bed. She wished that she had just relaxed a little more and enjoyed them when they were little. I was lucky enough to read that when my kids were still little enough that I could think it sometimes. Of course it’s always a mad rush, there’s just no way around that. It’s never ending. Sometimes I think of that quote and I think ‘Alright. It’s okay, let me just look around for a second and enjoy what we’re doing.’ That has always stuck with me.” -Elizabeth LaBan, co-author, Pretty Little World, Episode 139
“I think the best piece of advice is to raise your kids for who they are not for who you’d like them to be. And that’s really hard because we have all these expectations of what we expect our kid to be or what we’d like them to be, or what we were like. But it really is important to celebrate your child for who they actually are and encouraging that because their confidence and self-worth will come from that.” -Kate T. Parker, photographer and author, Strong is The New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves, Episode 135
“The best piece of parenting advice that I ever received, well there are two actually, one was ‘Don’t raise your voice.’ If you want to get your kids attention – widen your eyes, drop your voice, to use your face specially your eyes to make it really clear that you are really serious about something. That makes it much harder for your kid to dismiss what you are saying as you being out of control. I thought that was a brilliant suggestion, it worked really well in my house I would say. Even now, when my daughter is 18 – if I widen my eyes, it strikes a chill in her. She knows she has to take it seriously. And the other thing that somebody once said to me which I thought was really useful is “Be compassionate to yourself as a parent”. Whatever you do in the day that you’re unhappy with, you know how it is, you can reflect on all the things you should have done differently, said differently – tomorrow is another day.” -Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, psychologist and author, How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, Episode 134
“But for parenting advice that would apply to someone who is getting separated or divorced, if you have children and you have two households, the children are going between and making that transition, don’t make them the go-between. Don’t rely on them for information about the schedule. Keep the onus of communication with your ex, and the schedule-which can feel like a lot of execute at the beginning-on the adults. And don’t ask them too many questions. LIke what’s your dad doing, what’s the house look like, what did you have for dinner, was that new girl there that he’s dating, because I think it puts a lot of pressure on the kids to come up with the ‘right’ answer because there is no right answer for them. They don’t want you to be upset about something they have seen, and they also don’t want to feel like they’re ratting out their dad, so try not to twenty question them about what’s going on at the other parent’s house.” -Jill Sockwell, co-author, The Optimist’s Guide to Divorce: How to Get Through Your Breakup and Create A New Life You Love, Episode 119
“Interestingly enough the best parenting advice I believe I received is one that a lot parents actually complain about. It’s one where older people would look dreamy eyed at my young children, cause I live in Doorn and it has the oldest population per capita in the Netherlands. In that dreamy look, they would say ‘It really goes by so fast.’ It’s my favorite advice and I appreciate being surrounded by so many of these people that’s telling me that this is going to go by so fast, it’s because it’s a reminder that it really does go by fast. And to just be able to be in the moment with them. It’s not perfect, we all have things to do-laundry, cooking, we can make a list of things we need to do. But to actually really enjoy this time, early motherhood, it goes by way too fast. I’m afraid that modern parenting with all our schedules and things that we need to achieve, we actually forget that. I love looking at it this way: I would rather take the scenic route with my babies, toddlers, preschooler and child than the freeway.” -Rina Mae Acosta, co-author, The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less, Episode 132
“I’d have to say it’s from my mom. And my mom from the get-go, cause I remember being pregnant with our first and I was petrified, and my mom always me brought me back-she was like ‘just listen to your gut.’ Because you are laden with so much opinion all the time. Like you can start researching and Googling, and asking friends, overhearing other conversations of parents. I know from myself, I got to the point where I could hardly see straight. So that’s one thing that I’ve always used to pull myself back, is to just follow your gut.” -Paula Coop McCrory, digital influencer, Episode 126
“I don’t think it’s parenting advice per se, but I once heard a speaker that said that if someone is giving you a hard time, that’s a good thing. Because when they stop giving you a hard time, they’ve given up and they don’t care anymore. I think some of my bigger challenges in parenting are some of those things that I think are really important – maybe it’s manners, maybe it’s practicing the piano. And I have to go back to that piece of advice where it would be easier to give up and just let things slide but no, because I care about my kids, because I love them and because I truly believe in particular things being of importance and value. I stay on them.” -Robert Buren, speaker and paraplegic athlete, Episode 125
“It’s oddly enough not from a person-being in education myself, I’m guessing it’s intimidating to provide unsolicited advice. But I was immensely impressed by a piece in the Atlantic called “The Overprotected Kid,” published a few years ago. It was a piece about a playground in Wales called “The Land.” The broader theme of the piece was that, as a society, we’re making a major mistake by protecting our children from perceived risks and not exposing them to real risks. This has indeed fed my views and developed my views both as a school administrator and as a parent that we need to expose our children to genuine risk and danger, not such that they will lose life and limb but such that they have a genuine thrill of what it is they are experiencing. I think we have to keep that in mind.” -Tom Collin, former CEO, stay-at-home dad, Episode 123
“It’s almost anti-advice but probably the best advice I’ve gotten is that you have to find what works for you. Don’t just do something because it’s in a book or you read it online or someone else says it’s a going to work. We’ve given a lot of advice from friends, family, co-workers, we’ve even been given a couple of books about things they said worked wonders for them. We tried them out and they just didn’t seem to be that effective for us. There’s definitely no one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone will tell you there’s no manual that comes with babies but at the heart of that there is the kind of the gem that you couldn’t have a manual because every single one is different. So you just have to try out different things and see what works for you. And I guess I would add onto that, do that without adding pressure onto yourself. There’s enough pressure and anxiety being a new parent.” -Tyler Lund, software developer, Episode 122
“The best piece of parenting advice that I’ve ever received came in the form of a couple of very short words which was to be gentle with yourself. I think as somebody in a helping profession, we tend to judge ourselves way too harshly, partly because we have way too much knowledge for our own good and then we walk this walk and we’re exactly the same as every other parent, who is losing their ever-lovin’ mind on a regular basis because it all became too much, too quickly and we don’t know how to find our way through. So I would say, bottom line, the best advice I’ve ever been given is just to be gentle with yourself.” -Dr. Vanessa LaPointe, psychologist and author, Discipline Without Damage: How To Get Kids To Behave Without Messing Them Up, Episode 121
Are you a fan of the show? We’d dearly love your support.
Click here to visit our Patreon page and find out how you can become of a patron of the show to help us cover our costs. For as little as $1 per month you can help ensure the podcast will always be available.
Here are all the ways you can listen to our show:
I wrote an e-book called 11 Ways to Keep Your Family Weeknights From Spinning Out of Control. To get it for FREE, simply subscribe to our newsletter recapping the best of thenewfamily.com and the podcast!