June 14, 2016

Dear Dad: Thanks For Getting So Much Right

I did not meet my dad when I was first born, because he was not there. 

Not in the room, which was fairly normal back then. Because, the 70s. But also not in the country, which was somewhat normal back then. Because, the war.

My mom, grandparents, and I were in a hospital room in Kalamazoo, Michigan, while my dad was in Vietnam.

Our father-daughter reunion happened when I was eight months old, and he's been making up for lost time with me ever since.

I could write an entire post about my dad as a dad. Over and over, he has given me an earthly glimpse of Abba--God as "daddy." To say I am grateful is inadequate and insufficient but also true, so I will say it. I'm so grateful my dad is my dad. 

Months ago, at a family baby shower, my dad passed along to my cousin--the would-be first-time father--a list of advice he had written for my brother at a similar stage of life. It was addressed from father to son, but my dad let me have a look at it, and right away I said, "Oh, this is going up on my blog."

So, that happened. And here it is.

Thanks, dad. I love you so much.

My Dad's Wisdom on Parenting: Some Things He Did and Some Things He Says He Wishes He Had Done

1. Children are not little adults; let your child be a kid.

2. Don't have too many rules, especially when they're little. They're not going to remember them all anyway.

3. Pick your battles. It won't work to make an issue out of everything your child does that you don't like.

4. Don't let mealtime become a battle zone. No child has ever starved to death yet because they didn't eat everything on their plate.

5. Don't micromanage your child's behavior. It isn't necessary (or productive in the long run) to try to control everything he or she says or does.

6. Kids cry. When they're little, it means they need something. When they're older, it probably means they're frustrated about something.

7. Kids get tired. When they do, it's usually futile to try to reason with them to get them to do what you want.

8. Don't say things to your child that you would never dream of saying to someone else's child. 

9. Whatever stage your child is in, remember: this, too, shall pass, and they will move on to another stage. (This may be better or worse than the previous one!)

10. The greatest gift you can give your child besides your love is your time. Whenever possible, interrupt what you are doing to take time for them. Many things you need to do can be put off until later but many things your child does only happen once, and you don't want to miss them. 

11. Read to your child.

12. When your child starts talking, listen. What they say is important to them, and kids have great things to say.

13. Spend some time tucking your child into bed each night.

14. Find a church to help you raise your child. You need others to support you, and your child needs this to establish a good foundation of values and truth. If he or she doesn't get this early in life in church, they might get it somewhere else that you may not like.

15. Take time every day to enjoy your child and relish this role God has blessed you with.

What parenting wisdom have you gleaned from your own dad or a dad-like person in your life? I'd be honored to read about it, either in a comment here or over on Facebook.

This post may have been shared at some of these blog bashes.


  1. I love this and will be printing off a copy! Thanks for sharing! <3

    1. Aw, thank you, Heather! You're so sweet! I know you and I are both so blessed to have dads who show us what Abba's love looks like.

  2. Elizabeth, Thanks so much for your comforting words to me over at Coffee and Conversation earlier! I LOVE this post, too, and will be sending this to my married son and son-in-law "for future reference" (wink-wink)! Your father sounds like a wonderful man...hugs to you both this weekend!!
    Sending you some virtual chocolate, friend! <3

    1. Aw, thank you, Pat! Wink-wink...I love it. Tee hee...I am indeed the blessed recipient of an embarrassment of riches where both my parents are concerned. They have set a very high standard I know I will fall short of as a parent, but I will try to honor their example. Thanks for the chocolate...after I left your party, I spent the morning mucking out our barn, so I deserve it! ;) Hugs back to you, my lovely friend.

  3. I love this, Elizabeth. You know, moms could benefit from these little nuggets of wisdom also. You should create a printable of these, I would so print it and put it in my Bible journal notebook. Thanks for linking up with Thankful Thursdays.

    1. Thank you so much, Lori! I totally agree that my dad's pieces of wisdom apply to moms, too. The printable is a great idea! I mean, I've never done one, but I think that's something I need to work on. Thank you for the sweet encouragement...I'll get to work on it and will personally let you know when it's ready! Thank you for the great suggestion...and for Thankful Thursdays. :)

  4. Such an awesome list from your father Elizabeth! Thank you for sharing. There is something special about he gentle strength of a loving father. I am blessed by your post today and thankful for both my earthly and Heavenly Father. Thanks again for sharing. So nice to visit here today from Thankful Thursdays. Have a wonderful weekend and blessings to you and yours!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind and wise words! "There is something special about the gentle strength of a loving father." Yes. I am so grateful to have known the truth of this all my life. Thank you for stopping by from Thankful Thursdays!

  5. I've been out of town, so I'm just now catching up on my blog reading from the past week. This was worth coming home to!!! Now I see where so much of your wisdom comes from. ;)

    I, too, am blessed with an amazing dad who reflects the love of God and has the wisdom God gives as well. An unspeakable blessing....

    This is real, practical advice for all moms and dads, and I look forward to sharing it!!

    1. Hi, Tracey! Welcome home! ;) Thank you so much for your kind words and for so graciously sharing my dad's. You put it beautifully: our wise dads who love God are, truly, "an unspeakable blessing." May God return to you the gift of encouragement you have given out to me here today!

  6. What a great (& special!) list! My dad wasn't in the room (because it was the 70's), but he was back from Vietnam (how crazy would it be if our dads were in the same place at the same time there?), because he met my mom at the Steak 'N Shake (curbside service, of course) just after he returned from there himself and of course, needed her to make me...

    1. WOW...more similarities we share! That makes me so happy. What a great "how my parents met" story, and also could you be any funnier with "and of course, needed her to make me..." You are priceless and precious. xoxo


I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year-old that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!