100 Pieces of Decent Parenting Advice

By Melissa Stefanec

A little more than eight years ago, I became a mother. In the years since then, I have given my readers in a window into the madness and beauty I’ve encountered on my journey. Mothering is unique, in the truest sense of the word, in that no other job requires so much of you starting on Day 1.

With those larger-than-life expectations comes a desperation to learn as much as you can. That’s why parenting-advice articles are so popular; we’re all a little lost and in need of consultation.

In the 99 parenting columns preceding this one, I gave advice, shared successes and revealed failures; however, I often try to focus on what parenthood has taught me. Besides filling my life with love, being a mom has taught me more about myself, my marriage and my life than any other relationship or experience. My children have been catalysts of great change and my greatest teachers. It’s painfully corny but wildly accurate.

So, to celebrate making it this far, I want to share 100 pieces of parenting advice.

Some of these things are truisms that I couldn’t actually realize without the experience being a parent.

Said another way, some of these things are so simple that only children could make me understand them.

1. Celebrate the small wins

2. Move past small annoyances

3. Pick your battles

4. Pick your battles (redundancy intended)

5. Save your energy for the people that matter

6. Value experience above things

7. A child’s laughter is healing

8. Encourage laughter from others

9. Don’t take yourself too seriously (seriously)

10. The best things in life are derived from hard work

11. Define success by how you make others feel

12. Good moods are contagious (so are bad moods)

13. When someone falls, help them up

14. Love heals wounds

15. People hear what you do, not what you say

16. Coach free will, don’t squash it

17. Don’t miss an opportunity to show love

18. Strong people say I’m sorry

19. Say I’m sorry with the same conviction you say I love you

20. Make more time to play

21. Too much screen time makes for monsters (of any age)

22. Memories are formed by quality time, not quality gifts

23. Give people your undivided attention

24. Allow yourself time to wonder at the world around you

25. Make time for books

26. When you mess up, own up

27. After owning up, try to do better next time

28. Make others feel how you want to feel

29. Choose your friends wisely

30. Overscheduling leads to madness

31. Be ready to leave 10 minutes early

32. Remind the people in your life how much they matter

33. Make a sane schedule and stick to it

34. Wear your heart on your sleeve and others will reveal their hearts

35. Don’t tell jokes at another’s expense

36. But do tell lots of jokes

37. Go to bed early

38. Everyone has their own struggles

39. Everyone is a natural at something

40. Silliness is invaluable

41. Forgiveness is freeing

42. You can only play with so many toys

43. Double check your work

44. A good night’s sleep is great emotional medicine

45. Ask before you touch someone

46. Read body language, not words

47. Physical contact isn’t owed

48. Life is more fun when you share

49. When things get hard, love harder

50. Sometimes, you will yell; apologize

51. Don’t ask more of others than you’re willing to give

52. Be the bigger person and others will grow

53. Host dance parties in your living room

54. Matching is overrated

55. Take lots of pictures, but don’t lose the moment

56. When traveling, pack a change of clothes and some snacks

57. 75% of problems can be solved by sleep and food.

58. Tackle problems with a clear and open mind

59. Celebrate all of your birthdays

60. Most misdeeds are forgivable

61. Learning is an opportunity like no other

62. Keep asking questions

63. Respect others’ boundaries

64. When you see something beautiful, call attention to it

65. When you hurt someone, quickly say “I’m sorry”

66. Dress for the weather

67. Make lists; your memory will fail you

68. Value and employ organization

69. When someone is struggling, ask how you can help

70. Say thank you

71. Show your gratitude

72. Don’t force your hang-ups on others

73. Let parenting make you a better person

74. Sometimes, it’s ok to act like a wild animal

75. Be popular with the right people for the right reasons

76. Physical activity is integral to health

77. No one likes a tyrant, no matter the tyrant’s age

78. It’s better to laugh than get mad

79. But get mad about the right things

80. Plan for the worst; assume the best

81. Praise the good in people

82. Discipline from a place of kindness

83. Correct people to grow people not to belittle them

84. Take breaks when you need them

85. Taking deep breaths and counting to 10 actually is calming

86. Stay home when you’re sick

87. When someone says “stop,” stop

88. Smile at strangers

89. Smile at loved ones

90. Make people feel like they are worth coming home to

91. Taste buds change, so keep trying new things

92. Volunteer early in life, and it will be normal

93. Pets make for best friends

94. Make time to create things

95. Music and art are important (on so many levels)

96. Being outdoors fills up your soul

97. Speak to each other with respect and kindness, even if you don’t agree

98. As annoying as it can be, keep asking why

99. Life is painfully and beautifully short, so don’t take it too seriously (see #9)

100. Be kind to each other, to yourself, to other creatures and the planet you call home

To view Melissa Stefanec’s most recent columns, go to cnyhealth.com and select “Parenting” under the “Columnist” tab.