(1) Parenting is a long distance race, it is not a Sprint. At every developmental stage, exploit opportunities to rejuvenate yourself. The younger the child, the more important to get away/take shifts.
(2) Parenting is an inherently embarrassing role; determining the roots of your embarrassment is critical to becoming the best parent you can be.
(3) The most high energy, obnoxious, and disrespectful children who refuse to color within the lines only are often some of our most creative progeny. Don’t wish too hard for the super-pleasing, quiet child.
(4) It doesn’t matter whose kid does what first in terms of developmental milestones. The most important role you have is to understand your child’s developmental style. There is no one developmental path.
(5) Do not trust that a school or pediatrician will catch problems, and just because they say things are fine does not mean things are fine.
(6) Understand that a child’s strongest and most stubborn personality traits are often the most difficult to deal with, but are protective factors as well.
(7) Prepare your child for trauma, because you cannot protect them from it. Talk about trauma and its effects before it happens.
(8) Your reactions to difficult situations will deeply inform how they react. Find your way to inner peace. Address your obstacles to this is way more important than the pile of parenting books.
(9) Do not hesitate to consult a child specialist, but look for those who are evidence-based, and who MEASURE the results.
(10) There is a difference between disciplining and withdrawing your affection, do not do the latter.
(11) All involved parents should fully exploit bedtime as a time to soothe your child through touch and a calming environment. It is the most under-utilized – and yet a deeply connective –time of day.
(12) Bedtime routine – without electronics – is critical. No electronics 1 hour before bed. Good sleep is a rare commodity, but critical fuel.
(13) Do not be afraid to have your child switch schools, the education marketplace is highly diverse. Focus on goodness of fit between your unique child and their unique learning needs. Not on what the neighbors are doing. Highly anxious/smart vs. Gifted/bored.
(14) Look at what the international educational standards are, because that is who your child will be competing against. Businesses hold themselves to international standards, why don’t schools?
(15) Do not shield your kid from criticism. Be reasonably open to it.
(16) Following from the last item, make sure that with every teacher who works with your child knows you welcome their input, their input is valuable as any of your own perspectives, you want them to be blatantly honest and not sugarcoat things. The three most important questions:
— How well are they mastering the content?
— Do you see any problems in terms of how they process information (from focusing, to asking questions, to memorizing, to abstract reasoning, to recalling information, to integrating information, etc.)
–Do you see any problems with their emotional, behavioral, or social functioning?
(17) Be the parent where kids want to come over to your house. That way, you get a front row seat to see how your child is interacting with others. Even if you are more introverted, take small steps.
(18) Find really good references for understanding what healthy development can look like. My choices:
“TouchPoints”, T Berry Brazelton (Pediatric)
“Ages and Stages”, by Schaefer and DiGeronimo.
(19) To be emotionally connected to our children, we have to be emotionally connected to ourselves. We cannot tell our children to be happy if we are not happy deep down. Get therapy for yourself if you have significant problems. You cannot give what you do not have. If you want your child to learn to love themselves, then you must love yourself enough to accept your own problems and face them.
(20) Teaching a child to face their own shadow is way more important than them doing well in school, the clothes they wear, what church they go to, who their friends are, how attractive they are, how much money your family has, or where you go on vacation, etc.
(21) Church membership and participation is not necessarily correlated with moral soundness. Morally appropriate behavior comes from the development of a moral mind/heart. Minimize lecturing, and maximize ensuring the child understands what immoral behavior significantly affects. A moral mindset is focused on the needs of the Community. Regularly engage your child in community-oriented activities where they must be part of a group.
(22) It is not that you argue with your kids, what is most important is how you reconcile after. The critical thing is to teach them conflict resolution skills. How do you meet people in the middle-of-the-road?
(23) Whatever activity your child is in, keep the focus on the relationship between that activity and their general character. The message is you are on a life journey and beyond the ribbons and trophies, what really matters is how you are building character through this activity. Be excited, but don’t get zealous! The focus should primarily be on how much effort they are putting in, not on their achievements only.
(24) Do not undervalue the importance of touch with children. Humans are a highly touch-oriented creatures! If you have issues with touch, work on them and get over them. Because no matter how much you talk about how much you love your child, if you cannot give them a hug they get a non-loving message.
(25) Your psychological blind spots will have much more effect on them than all the meals you cook for them put together, and all the trips you take them on put together, and all the material things you buy for them put together. Parenting is about digging deep and turning over your personal garbage can, and sorting through the mess.
(26) Teach your child the goal in life is to learn, not be happy. That way, the Value of difficult even traumatizing experiences is recognized and celebrated. Another benefit: the only way to grow is to have difficult experiences. Teach them the only way to get stronger is to heal from their wounds.
(27) Bonus Point: Some parents can be very self-absorbed and rather primitive. It can take them years to realize why they are not the other parent’s sole object of adoration. “What happened?” they ask. What is your answer? What is the state of your relationship? Even the best relationships need a counselor at times because parenting will take you to the brink. If the thought of going to a counselor embarrasses you, why?