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One of two pieces of parenting advice

I try not to give out a lot of unsolicited parenting advice.  If someone asks, I will certainly do my best, but I've learned over the years to be as general and careful as possible.

I will however, offer two pieces of parenting advice without hesitation.  The first is know the Word of God and constantly be seeking it.  It is your lifeline.  It is your standard for conduct, your anchor in rough times, your balancing force.  God's Word pulls you back when you get off track, and it soothes your soul when you are aching. Enough said about that; that is rather a no-brainer.

The other piece, and I've said it before is this:  never say never.

Be careful about these, for example:

My son will never have long hair.
My son will never have an earring.
My daughter will never wear immodest clothing.
My child will never have a tattoo.
My children will never lie to me.
I will never homeschool.

Those are just a few.  And that last one?  Sure fire guarantee that you will indeed homeschool. It happened to me.

The problem with saying "never" is that you begin to believe it.  You say it for ten or twelve years, and you begin to think that just because you've uttered "never," that it will somehow magically come to pass.  When it turns out that you cannot keep that "never," you are shattered, and you feel like you have failed.  Saying "never" about the way you parent implies that you have some kind of absolute control over what your children will do. It may be comparatively easy to control the activities of a toddler; when they go out the door to the local school, all bests may be off.  You simply can't control everything they're doing, even if they've sat under the teaching of God's word all of their lives.  They are still sinners, after all.  And homeschooling does not solve the heart issue; a child will find a venue to sin in no matter what educational means you provide. Furthermore, they may make decisions that while not wrong, you disagree with. Those are even harder, because it requires grace to accept that our kids may not agree with everything we think.

My son has beautiful, long blonde hair.  I have taken my fair share of abuse about it.  Well meaning women ask me why I can't make a college student cut his hair.  They want to know why I didn't "make him" get it cut. I guess they envisioned me forcing him by holding him down or punishing him in some way.  The hair was not the hill I was going to die on.  I said "never," and I watched it happen, and I lived through it.  I still love my son and am so proud of him.  People still take the time to criticize his hair while at the same time never actually speaking to him to get to know him.  That is their loss.

Of course, there are some "nevers" that we must rather pencil into our lives, but even then, we must remember that our own hearts as mothers are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and we can't even promise that we will never cross a line ourselves.  What we can do, as well as avoiding that word is to cast ourselves daily on the mercy and grace of God.  It's really very simple; difficult, but simple.  A lot of parenting is actually quite simple; it is just difficult to do because parents are imperfect people raising imperfect children.

When my children have their own children, I plan on cross-stitching for each mother, on a lovely aida cloth, the words:  "Never Say Never."  I don't have a pattern yet, but maybe in the meantime, I'll come up with one. I'm pretty sure I have a few years yet.

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Reader Comments (4)

Great advice - thank you.
I once said I would never homeschool. About a month later I started homeschooling :-)

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

"Never say never". Absolutely. Whatever you say never to almost always happens to you. The only piece of advice that I always give to first time moms is along the same lines: Don't be so rigid about your "birth plan" that when it doesn't go perfectly (induction, c-section, pain meds when you were firmly anti-medication), you feel like you were a failure or like you missed out on something essential and can't ever remember the experience with joy. We have only a limited amount of control over what happens with anything related to parenting.

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth@Warrior Wives

"Saying "never" about the way you parent implies that you have some kind of absolute control over what your children will do."


Something isn't quite right if we think our children can get through life without making any mistakes and we're the ones who are going to make sure that's going to happen.

There are a few nevers I could add to the list...

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpersis

This is a wonderful post. Thank you.
Grace, Peace and JOy,

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJojo

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