[Ed. note: This article is part of our weekly series of resources for churches and families called Cultivating Community published on Thursdays.]
The call to care for creation means prioritizing what is important using the Bible and Jesus as our standard—that includes building healthy, godly families. As one parent below said, “Parenting is the best opportunity to shape a life that we will ever be given and likely the best opportunity to make a difference in the world.” In light of that, how can we readjust our priorities to give our children love and attention (which is free and doesn’t use scarce resources) and to teach them to be wise stewards of creation?
Flourish seeks to be a resource to help you raise responsible, godly children. To that end, we asked experienced parents to share the advice they wish they had known when they were new parents. We asked them:
- What is one thing you wish you new about parenting before you started?
- What is the one parenting mistake you’ve learned the most from?
- What did you worry about as a new parent you now realize you shouldn’t have worried about?
- How do you invest in the faith of your children?
- What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?
- What are the best moments you’ve had as a parent?
Look for their answers over the next few weeks on the Flourish blog. We’ll be highlighting answers to one or two of the questions. If you’re a parent and want to pitch in your thoughts, share them on our Facebook page. For more resources for parents, families, and churches, browse the rest of our Cultivating Community series.
To get things started, we asked parents to give us their #1 best piece of advice for new parents. Here’s what they had to say:
- Peter and Beth: Love and enjoy your children, even when they don’t seem particularly lovable or enjoyable—cherish the journey! Love can overcome a multitude of parenting mistakes; children are pretty resilient as long as they have the security of being loved.
- Holli: Meet other parents! Also, don’t Google everything—stop and pray and listen to your kids first.
- Karen: Pray continually!
- Leszek: Your children need time with you, but you must make time to be alone with your spouse. Have conversations where you can communicate about each other’s struggles and hopes. Be very attentive to one another’s sleep needs. Remember to do fun things together! Marriage is not primarily about kids but is about two people becoming a new entity before God and then (often) including the role of parenting in due course. While there are sometimes challenges regarding making time for each other when there are young (or older) children around seeking attention; it is important that both spouses keep each other a priority.
- Lynn: For a new mother: Take all the help you can get and accept it graciously. Get lots of rest and take care of yourself so you can take care of your baby. Be flexible. Schedules are great but shouldn’t be rigid. The exhaustion phase won’t last forever, so appreciate the miracle of your newborn. For a new father: Be available to help your wife. Show her a lot of grace as she transitions into motherhood—there are a lot of changes taking place and she needs you to be a calming presence in her life. Don’t wait to bond with the baby. Even if you aren’t sure of yourself, jump in there and be a hands-on dad. You’ll learn.
- Muriel: Chill out. Enjoy your children in each of their developmental phases. Come alongside them as they grow and discover the world. Encourage, guide, and provide opportunities to them, but don’t stress yourself out trying to be a perfect parent who raises perfect children. Rather, be there for them, listen to them, and be involved in their lives as much as you can. Show them you care and love them dearly. The way this works out practically looks different in the life of each family, so don’t try & ‘keep up with the Joneses’, but rather take ideas from others and figure out the best way to implement them in your family situation.
- Roxanne: Patiently listen to others’ advice but ignore their horror stories (regarding the birth experience, terrible twos, teenage years). Always trust and follow your instincts. As a therapist I’ve learned to carefully listen to the parents whose children I treat. Whether they realize it or not, they are the experts on their children. Remember, children come through you on their way to growing up. Your job as a parent is to help them discover who they are and help them become the best version of that person; even if it is different than what you originally envisioned. Love them no matter what.
- Ryan: Parenting is the best opportunity to shape a life that we will ever be given and likely the best opportunity to make a difference in the world.