There was a time in my life that I gave parents advice about their children, when I myself had never been a parent. Then there was my courtship of my wife, Jo. Before we were married I gave her all sorts of advice about how to deal with her kids. Fortunately for me, she just let me talk.
Then I married Jo and became a dad. To say it was an eye opening experience would be the understatement of the decade. What I didn't know, is what I didn't know. Now that I have been actively a dad for over a year and a half, I look back in horror at my past advice. But until you walk a mile in another man's shoes, how can you know what you don't know?
Even those with kids of their own have no way of knowing what our kids need. From the outside, you assume all kids are basically the same. There is nothing further from the truth. The is no such thing as a normal child. They all are unique individuals who come with their own set of blessings and challenges.
One thing I have discovered that I believe is true for any parent, is that we have to be vigilant and involved. You cannot parent from the sideline. You have to get in there and get your hands dirty, every...single..day. You have to know what your kids are doing, who they are spending time with, and what they need. You also have to be consistent.
The person that said that there is no rest for the weary, must have been a parent. So the next time you want to give a parent advice about their child, ask that parent if you can take that child and raise it for about a year. Then after that year, you might be about 10% qualified to give parenting advice. But probably not. You see, each week, month, and year, the needs of the child change. If you are in for a penny, you also have to be in for a pound.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to parenting a child. It is the hardest and most rewarding job you will ever have. Also, there are no guarantees. Even the best, most conscientious parent can raise a knucklehead and even some half assers out there will manage to produce some great off spring. There is no magic formula. There is no lucky star. You get what you get. All you can do is your very best to not screw them up too bad. Hopefully something you do right will stick and the things you do wrong won't produce too many life long scars.
Above every thing else you do, pray for your children. Lift them up before the Lord. Ultimately, God knows what they need more than you ever will. Oh, and for those of you, like me, that are full of "useful " advice, put a sock in it and hit your knees and pray for us and our children. That means more than any advice you could ever give.