Friday, February 26, 2010

Hiding


Where's Craney?


Where's Daddy?
(Note: Michael was playing motel-room hide-and-seek with the kids--and it took them strangely long to see him there.)

Where am I?

Buried in slush. Playing Rummikub. Working hard. On a two-night vacation. Eating Trader Joe's chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds. Reading this book. Watching figure skating. Not sleeping. Cooking, of course:

Here's a recipe for one of those crazily addictive iceberg-wedge salads with blue cheese. Yum.

And one for soft pretzels, which are fun to make--and make a great and nutritious snack for kids, especially if you use some whole-grain flour.

But speaking of the two-night vacation: I networked in the hot tub with a couple of beautiful, amazing women, including Tara Keppler, who co-wrote this book: food for thoughtful parenting: 12 must-have lists for new parents & young families. It's such a lovely book--beautifully designed, clean, small, and full of the kind of compassionate wisdom that can turn your day around. Plus, Tara's own children are so incredibly kind and confident that you know something is going really well in that house; Birdy fell completely in love with them.

Tara gave me a copy to keep and a copy to give away. And so I'm going to do that right now, here. If you can, comment for me over at family.com first (I really appreciate that), then come back here and write the best piece of parenting advice you've ever gotten. I'm going to draw randomly--but I thought that might make it more fun. I will pick a winner a week from now. Thank you for playing along, dear ones. xo

p.s. I'm going to add a few little extra top-secret things to the winning package.

119 comments:

  1. The best advice I ever received was, "Do what is best for *your* family."

    My user name on Family.com is Sarahatf, just FYI.

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  2. nowhey, that is such good advice.

    I still think remember my friend Cat telling me, when Ben was a baby, "When they ask, just say 'Yes, he's sleeping through the night.' Then they leave you alone." Boy was that good advice. Even though neither of my kids actually slept through the night until they were 3.

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  3. I don't know if this is the best advice I've been given, but I've been using it a lot with my 5 and 2 year old lately. My sister shared how helpful it is to "give them words." Rather than tell my kids to "share" or "play nicely" I teach them to say things like, "When you're finished may I have a turn?" or "I'll give this to you when I'm finished." It definitely diffuses tensions, and I hope its teaching them skills in kindness too.

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  4. Kristin Fradette1:34 PM

    The best advice I heard about raing a boy was to remember that I am raising someone's future husband and teaching him to be kind, considerate and helpful will not only make life in my house easier but in the big picture, it will make his life (and his future wife and children's) better as well. A boy that tells his Mama she's pretty everyday will be a man who tells his wife the same thing. A boy who helps around the house will be a man who will do more than his share.
    I have read every post you wrote on baby Center and I learned alot about parenting from you as well. How to be patient and enjoy every moment.

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  5. I've tried commenting over at Family.com dozens of times and never been successful. It's been a while so maybe I'll try again. The best piece of parenting advice I think I've gotten is that what makes the biggest impression is not the grandiose gestures but the every day interactions. We're headed to London next month (first time out of the country with all 4 kids, eek) and while I hope they have an amazing time, I know that the fact I spend every evening packing 4 lunches for school the next day and the fact that every Saturday we do a cooking project together and every Sunday we do an art project together is more important than 1 week in London. BTW, this weekend's cooking project is the pretzels. I can't wait! :)

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  6. A good friend told me to always follow my instincts. She was so right! When I do what other people think I should do the whole family ends up miserable. Things usually turn out fine when I just follow my own instincts.
    I love the advice about just saying that they do sleep through. I wish I'd thought of that when I was a new Mom and cared what all the other Moms thought. :) Btw, mine only sometimes sleep through the night now at 3 and 4.

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  7. The best advice was when my sister to me, "You think you'll remember every little thing, but you won't. WRITE IT DOWN." She was so right, and I'm grateful I have those words now that the little beasts are big.

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  8. Hmm. I think the best advise I ever got was to keep your relationship on the front burner, even in the throes of little-kid chaos, because nothing is more calming to kids than seeing that their parents are happy.
    My name on family.com is DHSarah.

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  9. I'm laughing at the motel room hide-and-seek. We recently took a 4-hour road trip with the grandparents to visit some relatives, and introduced them to "hide and seek" in our minivan with my 2-year old and 4-year old. The kids played with my mom for about an hour. They would cover their eyes and laugh hysterically as my mom said things like "Where is __? Is he on the roof? Is he under this blanket?" It is one of my kids' favorite ways to entertain themselves in the car, even if it drive me crazy after a couple of minutes. :)

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  10. My best advice came (unexpectedly) from my dad. He told me, when my twins were born to simply "survive". He said for two years, we were to live in survival mode, that anything extra we did was just gravy.

    I needed to hear that, and it really was survival for a great deal of those first two years.

    And I think it's great advice for anyone, not just twin parents. Bring the baby home; survive. No pressure for anything else. The end.

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  11. My kids are 5 and 7 now. But, the best advice I ever received was when my son was an infant. Everyone always insisted that I was "spoiling him" by holding him and wearing him in a sling all of the time. I was so beaten down, that I talked to my La Leche League leader. She said, "There has never been one mother who, on her deathbed, said, 'I wish I hadn't held my babies so much.'" And, I have to say, I have no regrets--I wish I could still carry them around with me all day long.

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  12. jensammons2:24 PM

    As my partner and I prepare to adopt our first child, the best advice I have received is this: "Don't ever believe that your family is any less valid than others. Yours will not be a family validated by bloodlines and genetics, but by the power of love."

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  13. Also, I'm NEVER able to comment over there. It says that I don't have an account, then I try to make one, then it tells me to select a user name etc, and I do, and then it says "your session has timed out".

    But I've made nearly every recipe you've ever posted, and the ones I haven't made are in my queue.

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  14. More than any advice I can think of right now, the thing that's been most helpful to me is to be around creative, patient parents. We riff on each other's approaches and build stock phrases that our kids recognize and, as a group, are much better able to turn potential meltdowns around. So I guess that's actually Tara Keppler's advice - we found our people :)

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  15. miryboo2:40 PM

    Take naps!

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  16. The best advice was, "It's really fucking hard - you can't know until it's happening. And it's fine to feel like throwing your baby out the window. Just don't really do it." This made me feel sane at my very sleep-deprived, shower-deprived, worst.

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  17. Tiffany A.2:48 PM

    I've gotten a lot of advice but by far the best I ev er got was from my "almost mom" Connie. One night her daughter was being especially grumpy and whining about everything. When we went to leave she demanded to sit in a specific seat and Connie let her. I questioned how she could let her do that after having behaved so badly and Connie said, "In the long run fighting about the seat won't matter. You have to give in when you can."

    I guess it was a better way to say pick your battles. Now that I have three kids of my own I try (really I do lol) to give in when I can.

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  18. My favorite advice was actually from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe. It was "Don't Panic."

    I also like the advice to model the behavior you want to see, instead of just telling them what to do.

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  19. Babsiegirl

    How very true! That quote made me both tear up and feel very comforted. I am going to remember that......

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  20. I'll share the advice I just gave to my dear friend who had her first baby yesterday.... be okay with plan B because it will rarely go exactly the way YOU want or intend it to go starting with the birth and every day after.

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  21. The best advice (or the one that makes me feel better when I want to turn around and run) is "It's only hard when you're doing it right." Maybe that means I'm doing *something* right!

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  22. I guess it's not really advice, but a woman whose own children are long grown said to me: "Oh, when you have young children the days can be so long, but the years are so short" and I have found remembering that helps me when the days are feeling too long and when the years are feeling too short. But I wish I'd had the nerve to use the advice Catherine's friend gave her to lie about sleeping through the night!

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  23. I think the best parenting advice may have come from you, actually. It was a post that you wrote a million billion years ago at Babycenter. You were actually passing on what you had read in a book. It basically said that you shouldn't worry about "teaching" your children to be kind, patient, loving, etc. You should SHOW them. All the qualities you want your children to possess you should instill in yourself and your children will follow your lead.
    I thought that was MAGIC. :)

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  24. Mm-kay. Family.com does not like me. It is not letting me set up an account. :( Sorry.

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  25. Anonymous3:44 PM

    Registering on the family.com site made my head hurt but I did it :) Can't wait to make the pretzels.

    Best advice? "Enjoy each age because they grow up so fast." Trite I know!

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  26. It's not exactly advice, but the words on parenting that meant the most to me were, "You'll do fine." My mom died a few weeks before my first child was born, and these were almost her last words to me. It's more than nine years later now, and I've made a LOT of mistakes, but I look at my (happy, healthy, only moderately infuriating) kids and remember my mom's words and think I am doing fine. (Oh, and I'm Al_et_al over at Family.com)

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  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  28. When my daughter was a baby and I would be tired or frustrated, my dad would just say, "Remember, she won't pass this way again." I find myself repeating that phrase to myself all the time. These kids just grow up so fast!

    I'm "sara-sundries" at Family.com.

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  29. the best advice i've ever gotten as a mom is to not take everything so personally-- through tantrums in it), attitudes (in it) and teenagers (just a tad wary of it) it seems to make everything smoother if i can be empathetic and compassionate and all about them instead of well, all about me, i guess! love your site. thanks!

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  30. Somewhere I read, "You don't have to be perfect, just good enough." What a relief!
    JulieInTheHood

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  31. Chris4:24 PM

    "It's just a phase." This is my mantra when I'm in the thick of some mind-boggling parenting dilemma. My mom told me this when my son was about 1 month old and was working hard to become the worst-sleeping baby on the planet. Every issue that pops up really is just a phase, and both you and your baby will get through it.

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  32. The best advice I've gotten on parenting came from some training I received in children's brain development. I learned that when children have an argument or get angry at home in the morning before school, they rarely are able to learn anything for the next several hours - their limbic system is still in "fight or flight" mode. So I made it a goal to make mornings as calm and happy as possible, and to send my kids to school with a kiss and some positive words. It has meant that sometimes I've had to drop things we used to fight over (clothes, hairbrushing, etc. - pick your battles, right?), but we are all so much happier when we start our days now. I feel like this one thing has impacted our whole existence.

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  33. Those pretzels do look super duper yummy, and versatile enough for any kind of weather (which I love).

    Best parenting advice? The 18-36 month stage can be a lot harder than the earlier stage, and don't freak out about it. They won't really turn into criminals who scream and throw themselves on the floor when they grow up.

    Oh, and my doctor's office lie that kept me from the lectures? "Yes, she sleeps on her back all the time."

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  34. DCGirl5:24 PM

    One of the best pieces of slow-down-and-chill-out-advice I ever got was from our octogenarian Greek barber, who was cutting my then-2-year-old's hair. The boy was shrieking, etc. because he needed his lollipop. Right. Now. The barber tenderly stroked his face and said, through his charming accent, "I know. For you there is no later. There is only now."

    This turned a light on my angry, irritated head, and allowed me to see things through my little guy's eyes. I've repeated it often to myself and my friends.

    PS I am making your roast chicken right now!

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  35. My mom once told me not to wish away the moments I'd long for when my kids are teenagers. I thought about that just today when my 8 year old son insisted on sitting on my lap while I was trying to finish some work on my laptop and whenever my 5 year old daughter is in the midst of telling me some really long, drawn out story that seems to never end. When they're teenagers, I know I'll long for the days when they just wanted to be close to me or to talk while I listen.

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  36. DCGirl almost made me weep. Others too but that really hit home.
    Swaddling. It changed our lives. To this day, the one we swaddled feels more confident, is cuddlier, and more secure. I'm sure it wasn't all swaddling but it shifted babyhood for us.

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  37. Best advice: they will do it on their own time. This applies to trying new foods, being ready for new experiences, and also developmental milestones.

    Also, I agree with Nowhey Mama and Megan!

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  38. Argh - like Marie, when I try to log in the site won't accept me, says I have wrong password, which I can't remember, then I try to create a new account and it won't let me because my name is already in use.

    Making the roast chicken and salad tomorrow.

    Best advice I ever received was to NEVER buy my daughter something in the store that she asked or reached for. I followed it and now, at 4, Willa comes shopping with me and I never whines or asks me to buy her anything. It just doesn't occur to her. We have many battles, but I am relieved that that is not one of them.

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  39. And a blog by an author I think you and your readers will enjoy, if you aren't already familiar with her: blog.kellycorrigan.com

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  40. The best advice...to sing to your child. I was told that singing improves your child vocabulary, and I have to agree, I feel like my 2.5 year old son has a great vocabulary. But more than that, I love singing with him just for the joy of it. I love that he doesn't care if I screw up the lyrics or sing off-key. He asks to sing all the time. It's just such a simple pleasure, so basic. I didn't, however, realize how awfully morbid all the old folk songs I grew up with really are. Check out the full lyrics to My Darling Clementine sometime.
    I just posted my first ever comment on family.com. I'm greenmombr there.

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  41. My mom said. . . well, I remember that she said something really wise and useful that I quoted and mulled over for years, but now I sure can't remember. Perhaps I should defer to She She, who said "Write it Down." I guess I should have.

    Aside from that. . . This too shall pass. That helps me be a better parent in both good times and bad.

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  42. The best advice isn't so much advice as a truth. People who feel badly, act badly. My baby is only persnickety when something else is wrong, like tired or hungry. If she's at homeostasis, she's a gem.

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  43. Virginia (jsout15408)8:56 PM

    The best advice I received was, :"You are the expert on your child. No one else knows more about them than you." It helps to remember this when you get really bad advice from people and when speaking with doctors.

    I've seen lots of good advice here though! Inspiring to read yet makes me feel so inadequate in many ways.

    ps. Man, I love your cat!

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  44. Stephanie9:03 PM

    I don't have any parenting advice, but I do have a story that I have been meaning to share with you for a while. I know your love affair with clemintines; we have the same seasonal "fling" going at our house, too. Each year, I happily bring home a tiny crate of clemintines and announce the first batch. My sweet son always says, "Oh Mom, can I have a clemin, I love clemin 'time.'" He did not say that this year. I am getting a little choked up saying this; my baby turned six today.

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  45. The best advice I ever received was from my mother, who said, "Everything is a phase" with regard to my children's behavior/sleep issues/food revulsions, etc. etc. etc. It helps me to get some perspective on the most maddening things my three children do,and it also, more important, I guess, reminds me that their growth & development is something I can nurture but not control. Right now, it's helping me live with my 5 year old's Russian accent.
    Thanks, as always, for the wonderful writing, great recipes, and humanity!

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  46. Two summers ago, I spent a weekend with a dear friend whom I hadn't seen for years. She is single and childless, and was asking me about the harder parts of being a mom. I was telling her about all the agonizing, second guessing, and guilt when I raise my voice or ignore my kids because I'm doing something oh-so-important like reading status updates. She looked me in the eye and said, "Ellen, as far as I'm concerned, your kids won the lottery when they got you guys as parents." Not advice exactly, but definitely the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me, and a lifeline for those moments when I feel like a complete failure.

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  47. I will leave my advice here and there... and that is "trust your heart to do the right thing"... it has brought us through many traumas... the latest one last Wednesday night, when after an odd kick during a sparring match, our daughter feared a broken foot... it wasn't broken (thankfully) but rather than have her suffer through the night, we traveled to the ER to make sure... your heart will lead you to the right decision... broken bone or not.

    The advice from my Grandmother, who passed away December 29 at the age of 104...

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  48. I can never comment at Family.com, despite numerous attemps. Very sorry!

    The best parenting advice I ever received is that it is important to allow your children to make choices for themselves. When deciding what to fight, and what to let them chose, the only question that really matters is "does the option my child wants hurt my child, or allow my child to hurt others?" It has saved me a great amount of haggling over clothing choices, food choices, etc. and is as appropriate to my teenagers as it is my six year old.

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  49. Hmmm, I've gotten a lot of bad advice over the years. =) Honestly, as a new mom one of the things that helped me most was reading "Bringing up Ben & Birdy". My oldest will be 7 next month and it was nice to read something from a mom who's baby was the same age as mine and know it was ok to not take things sooo seriously. I love your writing. So, that and having my Dad tell me to just love my kids and the rest will work itself out.

    My user name on Family.com is Lortz246

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  50. pdxAmy1:09 AM

    One of the nicest thing to my ears as a newish mom was when I was confessing to my pediatrician that I couldn't keep the house clean and she said "A clean house is the sign of a neglected child." Years later, I still tell myself that so I can leave the dishes/laundry/etc and play with my kids! Plus, not feel horrible because I can't "do it all."

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  51. Whenever kids inquire about how a baby comes out of the mommy's tummy just tell them:

    The doctor uses gloves.

    Works like a charm. There's generally no more questions. I don't know why, but it's worked twice for me!

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  52. Ditto on the family.com site. I'm sorry - those are probably important comments for you because that's where your paycheck comes from. ♥

    My best parenting advice came from you although indirectly. I noticed how close and content you and toddler Ben sounded and also that you had mentioned nursing until 2 years old. When my 2nd babe came along, I really wanted a better bond with her than I thought I had with my 1st. So we nursed and nursed and nursed. I had never heard of extended nursing until you mentioned it. It worked out well. Took her 3.5 years to wean, lol. Same with babe #3. Thanks for that!

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  53. Slow down. Also, at the forefront is that people are so much more important than "things", so teaching my kids that families support one another is a theme for us. Those are the best pieces of advice. I commented on Family.com (username=atsirk4100). I love your writing-thanks for all the insight.

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  54. The best advise I received was that it's okay to go sit outside for 5 minutes so not to hear your baby crying. Just know they are safe and not in any harm, just crying because they don't want to sleep.
    Sometimes those couple minutes of hearing your baby cry felt like years. Having that little bit of peace gave me the strength to re group and put myself back in confident mom mode again.

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  55. Angela2:19 PM

    I like what a Polish friend told me once (as I was feeling bad about our less-than-pristine home):

    There are two kinds of children - clean children and happy children.

    Lauri, that sounds like something that could change our lives too (cutting out the morning arguments). I'll try that! Thanks!

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  56. Wow. I came here to get that bread recipe and found the most beautiful comments. I think my favorite is "Remember, she won't pass the way again." Shivers.

    When I had a newborn and a 3 year old someone said "If you manage to brush your teeth every night, you are a superhero." I really took that to heart.
    Also, another friend reminds me that the years of young children are the "hunker down" years. (as in: there will be time to camp, ski, vacation, have multiple-night dates...later).

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  57. This may sound hokey, but the best parenting advice I've ever received is the good old "Golden Rule." Treat people the way you want to be treated, including your little ones. If I want my children to be kind, loving, patient, curious, playful, gentle, forgiving, and so many other wonderful things, I must strive to be those things myself. It's so hard to remember, but so worth it!

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  58. oh, this is such an amazing pick-me-up resource, right here in the comments!

    The advice that I keep coming back to, when I'm crabby and feeling anxious, imperfect, picky, nagging-nag-nag-naggedy...

    It come from the compassionate pen of Barbara Coloroso, but I need to paraphrase as my copy of her books are much lent.

    When a criticism or a restriction for my children is on the tip of my tongue I need to ask myself 'will what they are doing / asking for hurt them morally? Hurt them physically? Hurt others?
    If not then maybe, just maybe, even though I might not be what I'd choose, its OK.
    Don't sweat the small stuff I guess :)

    Off to Family to comment...

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  59. Annie4:34 PM

    Strangly, the worst piece of advise I got gave me my best peice of advise I give others. My mother told me to be hard on my kids from the time they're born to get them used to the "real world". She would tell me to let the baby cry; I was poiling her if I picked her up. I was spoliling her by co sleeping. I chose the opposite. Being family are where we should feel comfort. I firmly believe that. Home is where you can cry (even as an adult) and be comforted. Home is where you should feel secure. Maybe that's being spoiled, but my kids are well adjusted, caring kids. So I turned bad advice into good advice because comforting your own kids is what feels natural.

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  60. Don't compare your family/kids to others'--do what's right for YOUR family. Trust your instincts.

    (And that blue sheese dressing--YUM!!!!!)

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  61. Someone told me to "Enjoy the ride." I like that a lot and it always makes me think of that Steve Martin movie Parenthood where he is watching his son's school play fall apart and instead of getting mad he just smiles and laughs like he's on a roller coaster.

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  62. Teafortwo7:23 PM

    Thankfully, no one really laid it on the line for me and said, "you better do the Babywise stuff or you're gonna regret it." I have a box of cards from my baby shower with advice, and my favorite is: "When in doubt, call your mother. If she's not home, call MY mother (number memorized since I was four)". Oh, and a very, very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Birdy this week!

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  63. Now that my kids aren't babies anymore (they're 10,7,4) I try to remember something my pastor once said in a sermon: "Say yes whenever you can."

    I say no to them so often without thinking things through for my own selfishness. What a blessing to say "yes".

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  64. KarenW10:35 PM

    Like many have said before, the best advice I got was something to the effect of "This too shall pass."

    Also, recently I've been getting advice about really trying hard not to compare your child with any other, he's not reading slower, or not hitting the ball as well, or she's not walking later or talking later, etc. They are doing it in their own time!

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  65. This is all good advice! I think for me is just learning to let go and be in the moment. It is hard, it is not really my nature, but I am trying. I am trying to absorb every smell, sound and look of the baby, because I know that one day I will not be able to recall.

    I love all the wisdom here and as always love your words. They have inspired me since your very first post. Now our eldest are getting so big and I think wow, we have been through a lot together!

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  66. I think you know I am "Jenifer G" over at Family...just left my comment.

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  67. "trust yourself-- because you are the mama your children were meant to have."

    I think it covers a whole lot-- the comparing "I'm not as crafty! I still have two out of three (not) sleeping in our bed...yadayadayada..." And also, it gives me that deep breath. I tend to worry about how much money my children will spend in therapy because of my mistakes along the way...and I used to seek waayyyy too much advice about how to handle every little situation. I'm learning to sit back and trust my instincts, and know that I'm doing the best I can...and that the best I can *is* enough.

    PS-- were you at a conference or workshop?

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  68. Not to suck up, but a lot of the best parenting advice I've ever gotten is from Waiting for Birdy. <3 Just sayin'. Let's see, the one that comes most quickly to mind lately is to parent from a place of calm, not a place of anger and frustration. Also, my uncle, who's an M.D., who told me when Leah was about a year and a half to always trust my mommy instincts, because it's almost always right.

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  69. P.S. And I'm RuthyLH over at family.com, only for you would I go through all that signing up rigamaroll, goodness. But oh how I love reading about Ben and Birdy and their kind and funny little hearts. Makes me grin :)

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  70. I will try Family.com again.

    Best advice: I don't know where this came from, but it really helped me ease off: If it's not a problem right now, don't worry about it. I was spending so much time fretting about creating bad habits that is was preventing me from enjoying the wonderful things happening right then and there. This shift in perspective took my parenting from high intensity fret-a-thon to something much more reasonable (and sustainable!).

    These are fantastic comments!

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  71. domesticidyll4:58 PM

    So many good pieces from _Becoming the Parent You Want To Be_: honoring the impulse, separating feelings from behavior, embracing disequilibrium, finding your people.

    Right now, with my maybe last baby leaving babyhood behind, I am thinking of my grandma telling me to embrace the stage you have: meaning, what you have is good, but trust that what you will have after that is good, too--hug the moment, but also trust that your children are going to continue blossoming into their own selves.

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  72. I can think of so many beautiful things to say, but actually my favorite piece of parenting advice (and a mantra I repeat a lot in my head) is "low expectations." You know how it's so frustrating to plan something you think is fabulous (special day, meal, etc.)--and then your kids hate it or have no reaction whatsoever? If you have low expectations of how things will go--they usually turn out much better than worst case senario--and voila, successful happy times!

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  73. Mom2Gizmo9:36 PM

    First, LOVE your recipes! YUM That lemon herbed roast chicken was to die for...
    Second, BEST ADVICE...housework can wait...kids grow up.
    :)

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  74. best advice; rec'd when I was prego with #2 (they were just under 2 years apart) and I could not comprehend how the logistics would work; how would i get them in and out of the car and into the grocery store or the post office? what if the oldest ran away while i was toting baby? etc. a friend told me "It just sucks for a while". jaded and negative, maybe, but it gave me hope that there was a light at the end of the tunnel :) and that things would get better :)

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  75. Diane [xtradrs@yahoo.com]2:58 AM

    Some of the best advice I have ever received is not to worry about little things like thumb sucking and potty training, because there has never been a man sucking his thumb/wearing pull ups at his wedding. (yes, lots of joke potential!]
    I also like the advice that when someone is at his least loveable is when he needs love the most.

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  76. A SAH, home-schooling friend of mine gave this little nugget, "Put the dishes in the lower cabinets where the kids can reach. Then they can help you unload the dishwasher!"

    So simple! (And then they put it in the magazine this month!)

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  77. Go with your gut, then get out there and ENJOY your children. It's one thing to love them...most parents do love their kids. But it's another thing entirely to like them...to want to be in their company. I'm humbled when that other grown ups like to be around my kids.
    ps...trying to post on wondertime, again!

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  78. Anonymous12:01 PM

    I think the best advice I've gotten is from my mom, who said, "The best gift you can give your baby is a happy mommy." Also, I always thought of you in those hectic early days when I'd put down a squalling newborn so I could eat something. I was putting on my oxygen mask first. ;)
    - Beth

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  79. Anonymous12:07 PM

    The best piece of parenting advice came from a quote you shared from your babycenter days.. it's still on my fridge. "If you would be a wise parent, be careful in all you do and say, know that each action, each word has its effect. Be alert and mindfull, living fully in each present moment. Treat your children with courtesy as you would treat a guest". That quote stuck with me and remains my mantra.. Thank you!!

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  80. If I'm having a rough time with the kids, the advice that I found works wonders is giving Mommy a "time out". If only I could have one minute for every year of my life. :)

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  81. These are all such wonderful comments!

    The best parenting advice I got right before my daughter was born came from my oldest, dearest friend who knew how committed I was to breastfeeding. She told me not to keep any formula in the house; then I'd make it work. And with the help of a lactation consultant, I did!

    However, longer term good advice includes the following:

    *The key to family life is not taking it personally.
    *Better is the enemy of good enough.
    *Do what's best for your family.

    And I still do think about putting my oxygen mask on first! :)

    Will try to post over at Family.com. Wish me luck!

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  82. EEEEP! Heading over to Family.com post-haste. And please, oh please randomly pick me!
    Best bit of parenting advice?
    When/if you find you need to discipline your children, try as best as you can to remove the anger from your voice. Let it come from the place in your heart where your love for them resides, rather than where your more immediate feelings of anger might be lurking.
    Yep.

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  83. Yay! I posted at Family.com -- jaa41012 is my user name over there.

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  84. Anonymous12:53 PM

    When my first was just a newborn, I was in the supermarket and a woman told me "sometime in these first few months, you are going to hate your husband." Said it like it was fact. She was so right. It was not fair or warranted, but I just hated him. This man I love more than anything. I tell this to new mothers so they see it coming and don't think their relationship is doomed. --Cathy K
    (cefkennedy at family.com)

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  85. Anonymous1:01 PM

    I have to give a couple more:
    These are things I try to remember
    --having a happy, healthy relationship with your spouse or partner is the best gift you can give you child
    --resisting the urge to always put yourself last in order to put others first. They will emulate this behavior and do you really want to see your kids grow up and put themselves last all the time?
    --remembering that when your child unleases all their anger/frustration/fury on you, it's because deep down they feel the safest with you and know that you will always love them no matter what.

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  86. OK, I just read/commented over at Family.com, and I've got to say, that was such a lovely post. And pretzels! Bonus! Any time I go to a German Deli I all but clean them out of Laugenbroetchen - which is a long, nearly unpronounceable word for "pretzel - shaped like a dinner roll."
    Also, that Birdy of yours? Yikes! what a pretty, pretty girl.

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  87. Never say, "never."

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  88. Anonymous4:45 PM

    You guys! You have to check out all the comments on "Soft Pretzels." The people at Disney are going to be so confused. Hmm, there seems to be a real interest in soft, salty snacks. How can we tap into this market? We love stuff, don't we. --Cathy K

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  89. Anonymous5:02 PM

    I meant--we love free stuff, don't we. --Cathy K

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  90. The best advice I ever received was: "It's OK to have a "bad day" as a mom, or to have a day you don't feel like being a mom. That doesn't mean your a bad mother, it just means you are normal.

    Also, I have been wondering for a while, if we comment on a previous post of yours on family.com, is that helpful? For instance, I sometimes make a recipe weeks, or months afeter you post it and have wondered if posting a comment that much later is helpful to you?

    Thanks for all you do and share with us!

    Jenny (luvtocookmom at family.com)

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  91. The best parenting advice I ever received was from my friend, who does not have children of her own, but has been a teacher for years. She told me to scare my toddler into thinking I could see what he was doing at all times. She suggested I wait until he knows I am out of sight and to jump out and scare him when I caught him doing something he shouldn’t.

    It sounded downright bad mannered to me but eventually I tried it and it really does work.

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  92. Dale_in_Denver7:36 PM

    When my oldest was 22 mos and his brother was born, I was worried how I would handle the two of them - love them equally, not do something to create resentment of the older toward his brother. Fortunately, a few days before I delivered I read somewhere that the baby will never remember having to wait. What a load off of my mind.

    I also read in "A Family of Values" to always act like you know exactly what you are going to do next - whether you do or not - and sometimes it is best to not punish on the spot (especially for older kids). When my boys weren't listening I could say, "Hmmm. Well that's too bad." They always wanted to know what I was going to do to them (usually denying them gum in the car), but it generally remedied their behavior.

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  93. dale_in_denver7:40 PM

    And the books! I loved "Without a Map" and "The Glass Castle" and "Then we came to the end." I have about a half-dozen of the other books that were mentioned on request at the library.

    Catherine - could you do a book survey like that every 2 or 3 months? I love getting reading ideas from your followers - they are people I know I have much in common with without ever having to meet them.

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  94. Best advice I ever got was from the pediatrician: "Enjoy your baby." We were freaked-out new parents and in all the advice about danger-proofing and potential maladies, nobody had mentioned the great FUN that babies are.

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  95. My cousin's wife's mother
    (riiiight..) told me "don't wish his life away" of my firstborn when I was wishing he would roll over, and crawl and talk already. Now he is 6 and such a freaking grown-up already (we have a 4 and 19-month old too) I wish I could go back to his baby days for a few minutes. Time flies when you are having fun!

    I commented at Family.com; I am echmomma over there. And i mean it when I say twisting pretzles makes me nervous.

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  96. holly in michigan10:05 AM

    The best advise I was ever given, was to follow my instincts - don't worry about what others do or say, I know my children better than anyone else. Also one other peice of advise I was given as a new parent was to make sure you NEVER hover over or tell your husband how to parent, let him figure it out and grow confident. Otherwise, you will end up doing everything and resent him for not helping. BUT...in order to do this you have to believe in the fact that he may do things differently than you, but it doesn't make it wrong. I have a truly wonderful hands on-dad for a husband, and couldn't do it without him.

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  97. Allison12:23 PM

    Something that sticks with me, six years since my mom first said it to me as I was trying to placate my then 18-month-old:

    "He doesn't know what he wants. So YOU need to figure it out for him."

    In this case, he thought he wanted to kvetch endlessly, but I figured out that what he *really* wanted was a nap.

    In other words, A kid can't be the parent. Parents must be parents.

    This advice has informed many, many situations that I've dealt with since in dealing with my son, and the two that came after him.

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  98. This is hard. I think, maybe "breastfeed" is the best advice I've gotten. It has set us up for all kinds of wonderful things, and continues, at 2 years 4 months, to be a deep source of peace and connection.

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  99. Oh, I keep coming back to this list for more inspiration :)

    I have had this gem hanging on my refrigerator since my 7 year old was tiny: "Attention is the most basic form of love; through it we bless and are blessed." - John Tarrant

    And all though that doesn't specifcally address children, it is my favorite parenting advice. It gets me stop doing whatever the hell I *think* is soooo important at the moment and PAY ATTENTION to my children and what they need, what they are trying to tell me, how they are trying to engage me, etc.

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  100. Two pieces of pareting advice:
    1. A quote I cut out of a magazine & having hanging inside my microwave cabinet so I see it everyday - "The most important thing she'd learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one."

    2. Don't be afraid to apologize to your child if you've yelled or been rude - it means the world to them to know that grown ups mess up, too and are willing to own up to it.

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  101. The best advice I ever got was that you don't have to take someone's advice just because they give it to you. Just smile and nod.

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  102. Anonymous9:45 PM

    My mother told me (after spending a week listening to me explain EVERYTHING to my kids) as I was packing up my 3 week old, 3 year and 5 year old to fly back home (to Hamp!): "Honey, sometimes it is okay to say BECAUSE I SAID SO!"

    That was SO liberating!

    They are 10, 14 and 16 now. Wow.

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  103. The best advice I got was to turn off the television. Our little ones don't need screen time! Now I have older kids that can entertain themselves for hours at a time and they learned to read really early too. It's been a wonderful choice for our family.

    My favorite quote about parenthood is this: "The most important thing she'd learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one." ~Jill Churchill

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  104. the week our now 6-year-old was born a friend stopped me in the store - with advice she had to give me then...she said to "take that little chicken in the shower and hold her in the water with you" - you'll have a kid who likes to shower and be clean. she has a teenage son who is the cleanest teenage boy i know!

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  105. The best advice I've received: Each day, spend a few minutes just *being* with your child. It's so easy to get caught up in all of the "shoulds" when we're spending time with them (I should use this moment to teach them about sharing, or why it snows, or whatever else), when the most important thing is to let ourselves surrender these "shoulds" and just BE. Sit and smile and look them in the eye, and just BE with them.

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  106. The best advice I got, and that my husband still gives, is "Everything is a stage. Just when you think you'll never get through it, it's done, and they never do it again. And sometimes, you actually even miss it!"

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  107. Alison12:26 PM

    Except for Michael. Who once ate a gallon of Nutella washed down with a gallon of Bailey's Irish Cream, so forget about Michael.
    This made me burst out, laughing out loud!
    Thanks for your writing and for this laugh!
    Alison

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  108. dale_in_denver12:28 PM

    Here's another good one from a friend that I consider a genius because of this gem: When potty training and working with them to get thru the night, make their bed with a water proof matress pad, bottom sheet, top sheet - then cover with another water proof matress pad, bottom sheet, top sheet. When they wake up in the night wet, you can quickly change jammies and wisk away the wet set of sheets with fresh dry ones already on the bed and ready to go. This way there is no incentive of hopping in bed with mom and dad when the bed is wet. Genius, I tell ya.

    Also, once your child has made it thru 2-3 nights with a dry pull up, ditch the pull up. The pull ups make it possible for them to get lazy in the a.m. when it is hard to crawl out from the warm comforts of bed to use the potty. Cleary this means a commitment to do more laundry - but I found it to be a worthwhile investment for ~1 month with a payoff of no more diapers or wet beds.

    Good luck!

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  109. heather f12:37 PM

    best advice:
    (a) what other thing that I do will have an effect on people eighty years from now?
    (b) take care of your self
    (c) pick your battles
    (d) the dishes can wait
    (e) trust your instincts

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  110. It's funny how many people think of advice they got from you or your columns. One I think of often (maybe not often enough) is to remember that we hold their hearts in our hands. I try to keep that in mind when I'm feeling angry.

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  111. Request for recipes -

    Could you do some recipes that are different ways to do brown rice + something you have in your pantry or freezer. I'm wanting a substitute for Zatarian's cajun jambalaya mix because of all the additives, etc but whenever I make it it's too spicy or not as good. Could you do some things that are substitutes for prepackaged mixes, but just as quick and easy? Like a basic recipe, then with a cajun twist or mexican rice twist or chicken and broccoli twist? Is that possible? :) You're the chef.

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  112. Anonymous9:00 PM

    One of the best pieces of advice was not to go overboard with Santa. Just have him leave one special gift and fill the stocking. Wow, that takes the pressure off during the holidays.

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  113. Anonymous9:01 PM

    Follow your gut.
    Hasn't failed me yet when I followed the advice. However the most significant times of regret are when I didn't follow my gut.

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  114. I've read so many parenting books and blogs, but the advice that always stuck with me was "Trust your instincts." It has never failed me.

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  115. Hmmm, can I count the time you mentioned making sure the baby monitor was OFF when you are at the receiving end and someone is at the other? (in my case, it was me talking to my friend on the phone (in the room where the baby had been napping) about how my inlaws were driving me nuts; guess who was in the room w/ the speaker?)

    My sister is an amazing resource for me; hard to pick just one. "Pick your battles" is a classic; it helps me to remember to let more things roll off my back than my nature would usually choose.

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  116. Some of my favorite advice was to separate my child's behavior into the "good, bad, and ugly." This way I'm not micromanaging and stressing about every little thing ALL the time. The bad? Messy rooms, haven't brushed teeth, slow to get ready. Still important, but I deal with those differently. The ugly? Physical or emotional violence toward a sibling, disrespect to a parent, etc. Thinking about which "category" behavior falls into helps me take a little breath and get some perspective.

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  117. Kasheri6:03 PM

    The best advice that I ever came across works equally for many aspects of my life. It is a quote from Dame Emilie Rose Macaulay:

    "At the worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived."

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  118. I know it's too late for the giveaway thingy, but i wanted to share two pieces of advice that I rely on (and sometimes forget):
    1. when they're acting up, look at the emotions underneath the behavior. (recently, when my 5-year-old was being a bit hellish, I started to get snippy and then stopped, and said "It's hard when daddy goes out at night, isn't it?" and he crumpled into tears and then was an angel for the rest of the night.)
    2. make sure they know they can safely complain to you about what you do. i try to let my kid know that if I hurt his feelings or lose my cool, he can tell me, and I will happily talk it over with him. It took me ten years of therapy to be able to do the same with my family. I'm so glad he'll go into the world with that emotional skill!

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