Best, unique, or surprising parental advice

Best, unique, or surprising parental advice

An amusing anecdote and question from the DaddyTypes blog addresses the best piece of advice he received from parents when he was expecting his first child.

About six weeks before the kid was born, I was checking out a flock of strollers parked in the gym lobby, when the owners, a group of Tribeca moms, showed up. After figuring out I wasn’t trying to steal their rigs, we got into the “oh, when are you expecting?” conversation. When I told them, one woman said, without a second’s hesitation, and with an intensity that sticks with me to this day,

Go out every night!

It’s advice I pass along, partly as a joke, but also because it’s not exactly the kind of thing you’ll read in a What To Expect book. And because it turned out to be damn good advice.

So. What one piece of advice did you get before the kid was born that strikes you as valuable, unique, or surprisingly important?

What piece of advice do you wish you’d heard but didn’t?

That seems like it would be a good question. Certainly, when you’re a new or expecting parent the one you don’t lack for is advice, both good and bad. Probably the best advice we got was my sister going with us to Babies-R-Us to register for the baby shower and telling us what we need and what we don’t need. There’s just so much stuff for sale by the Baby-Industrial Complex that it can be overwhelming. I’m glad we took the advice that we didn’t need to buy a crib right away because we ended with a very nice free crib.

The best advice I could give is to relax and realize that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on baby stuff and that used clothes and toys and furniture will not scar your child for life and if makes your friends turn up their noses at you, you need new friends. Although, the “go out every night” advice isn’t bad either, at least if you’re not the type who enjoys staying at home.

So what’s the best, most unique, or surprising advice you received while expecting your first child.

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  • The best thing parents can do for their kids is love each other & treat each other with solicitude. That’s not for sale any place & about half of Catholic kids grow up without it.

  • Relax.  Especially with the first, everything is new, exciting, and permanent… that tough schedule, that crying (what does it mean?), the diapers.  But phases pass, and soon the new “permanent” phase comes—teething, mouthing everything, running into walls (my oldest actually did), and you can panic again about safety issues, instead of enjoying the warm little hand in yours and the trusting smile because the world is perfectly safe when you’re there.  And on, and on.  But at each phase there is so much beauty and love to share.  Pay attention to the positives of each age—they pass so quickly!  I don’t think this is new or original advice, but it bears repeating.

  • “Don’t negotiate with terrorists”

    Our first child was born not long before the Iran hostage situation and my late father used that term to counsel us we entered the exciting world of dealing with (a) strong headed child(ren).  Or maybe he coined the phrase and the government stole it from him.  Whatever. 

    “The best you can give your child is a sibling.”
    I forget where I heard that but it is true.  I think my 6 children would agree.  They may get on each other’s nerves but they are also are always ‘in cahoots’ and know they have a family to depend on.

  • “You are your child’s only advocate.”

    Not strictly true—my husband is advocate also—but in many situations where it really counted, this old bit of La Leche League advice has been surprsingly important for me.

    When the guy acting weirdly at the playground is making the other moms nervous but everyone lacks the nerve to say anything, this advice has burned in my brain, and I’ve walked over and, confirming the man has no child present, informed him straight that his presence is making us uncomfortable. Three times out of four there’s been a reasonable explanation with backing evidence, and never any hard feelings. The one time out of four is why you have to remember that *you* are the only one who is going to look out for your child, so you better get over your fear of social embarrassment and speak up.

    God didn’t give your kids to anybody else, and nobody—your mom, your priest, your kids’ teachers, NOBODY—can be expected to step up to the plate if you don’t have the courage to.