I’ve been watching my daughter do all kinds of crazy things to get my little granddaughter to eat her vegetables. We are currently blending them into a green yogurt smoothie. As my daughter works to get Baby E to eat a balanced and nutritious diet, I listen to everyone give her all kinds of advice. There is a lot of wisdom in the advice. I love when more experienced women share their knowledge. Many times my advice is heaped right on top.
But every time Baby E locks her mouth shut and shakes her head no, I see my daughter’s shoulders slump a little bit. I know she must be wondering: How did all of these other women succeed in getting their kids to eat veggies? (P.S. We didn’t.) Am I doing something wrong? She’s tried all of the advice. I know that she loves Baby E and wants to get it right.
If you’re like me, you desire to help these young parents. You want them to learn from all of your mistakes and successes.
Here are a few tips to help them as they work to get it right:
1. Support their efforts. There is very rarely one right way to parent a child. I’ve heard a million pieces of advice on everything from potty training to getting them to sleep through the night. But sometimes in all the advice-giving, we overwhelm young parents and undermine their confidence. Instead of trying to change their way of doing things, support them. Do it their way. Remember how much you learned by trying? They need to learn that way too. Who knows, we might learn something new.
2. Encourage their hearts. Instead of telling them the right way to do everything, tell them about the mistakes you’ve made. You know, that time you thought your child was faking and they really had a broken arm? Remember how everything turned out okay? Speak to their emotions. Let them know that in spite of your fears, weaknesses, and mistakes, your kids thrived. Tell them what a great job they are doing. Let them know you are proud of them. Remind them that their child will survive their mistakes. Lift them up when they are discouraged.
3. Give them advice. When they ask and when they don’t, refer to #1.
4. Help them. Babysit, do the dishes, buy them a much needed stroller, let them take a nap, or cook them dinner. Roll up your sleeves and help. Raising children is hard work. If you want to have influence and a place in their everyday lives, then help them. These young moms have nothing to prove. Don’t make them do it by themselves. Help to carry their load so they have the energy to do the demanding job of parenting.
In those moments when you’re supporting, encouraging, and helping you just might find that you are sharing far greater wisdom than you can imagine. And you will have the pleasure of knowing you helped a young parent become a GREAT parent.