20 Things Every Parent Should Hear

20 Things Every Parent Should Hear

1. You are a hero for your kids. You are. You’re a go-the-distance, fight-the-dragon, face-the-challenges hero for your kids. Taking a beating makes that more true. Not less.

2. We all struggle. Every parent. Everywhere. We all second-guess ourselves. And we all want to quit sometimes. Hold the good times close, and when things are tough, remember “this, too, shall pass.”

3. Finding the funny may not save your soul, but it will save your sanity. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, look for the humor and embrace the crazy. Laughter is a lifeline.

4. Every day, you will feel like you have mishandled something. Like you’ve been impatient. Like you’ve misjudged. Like you’ve been too harsh. Like you’ve been too lenient. You may be right. Apologize if you need to and then, whatever. Seriously. Just whatever. Let it go.

5. The crazy, the crying, the cuddles. The screaming, the sacred, the scared. The minutes, the magic, the mess. It’s all part of it. And it’s all worth it.

6. Family is the best. Even when it’s not perfect. And it’s never perfect. Ever.

7. At the end of organization, at the end of patience, at the end of perfection, we die to ourselves. And then love rises from the ashes. It sucks. And then it gets better. And then it sucks again. Still, love rises.

8. You will never regret parenting. Except for the teeny, tiny tons of times when you secretly wonder if you maybe regret it just a little. But, overall, never. And overall is what counts in the end.


9. Parenting is like climbing the big mountain. Look for the base camp. That’s where you rest, meet other climbers, take in oxygen and acclimatize. Base camp is what makes summiting possible.

10. You are not alone in this strange, vast, parenting ocean. Even in the dark of night. You are not alone. You’re not.

11. Kids know the way to magical and they’ll give you a free pass to come along. Breathe in the magic as long as you can because that same kid is going to poop his pants in just a minute.

12. There’s a very fine line between enjoying the chaos and barely surviving. Actually, there’s no line at all. It’s all mixed up together. That “fine line” thing is a lie.

13. If you pay attention, kids will teach you how to laugh loudly, how to love deeply and how to live fully. They will also ruin all your stuff.

14. Any number of kids is a lot of kids.

15. Look for joy. You’ll find it in the middle of the busy. Or under the ridiculous. Or hanging from the overwhelmed in its underpants. Joy’s like that. It’s in the middle of everything. It’s completely unpredictable. And it will surprise you when you’re not expecting it. Like vomit and diarrhea, except good.

16. You will fall apart and do it all wrong. Forgive yourself. Ask your kids to forgive you. Set an example of resilient fallibility. Set an example of practicing the art of love — both loving yourself and loving others. No one does this parenting gig right the first time. Or the last time. Or the times in between. Showing your kids how to keep going after getting it wrong is a wonderful gift to give them.

17. Kids are difficult, gross, confusing and awesome. So are you.

18. Parenting will bring you face to face with yourself. It may be terrifying. It may break you. But it will also rebuild you, and you will be stronger than you ever thought possible.

19. Balance is a myth. Parenting isn’t a tight-rope walk; it’s a dance. Strive for rhythm instead of balance, and trust yourself to move to the ever-changing beat.

20. Yes, you will have days where you wonder where the hell the capable and organized you went. Yes, you will sit on the floor of the main aisle at Target by the check-out area with a child who is thrashing, screaming and calling you names. Yes, you will have to tell your child that the dog is not a napkin and to put down the urinal cake. If you do not do all those things literally, then you will do them figuratively. And yes, you will also hold that child and rock back and forth and tell him you love him and tell him he’s safe and tell him you’re not leaving even though he will someday leave you. This is parenting. It is tragic and triumphant. Messy and magical. Sacred and spectacular. And it is, always, fiercely worthwhile.


A few weeks ago I wrote a piece titled You Don’t Have to Choose a Parenting Method to be a Great Parent. Today, hand in hand with that post, I’m sharing the words above. Your words. Words I picked up in the comments of this blog post that I’ve captured and rewritten and molded and framed. Because together? We know stuff. And it is good

Thanks to Yabby, LizD, Aurora, Ellen, Marci, RubyKatie, Jenny, Jessica, Cathie, Meredith, Not Evan, Meghan, Bethany, Kristi, Michal, Ronda, Darcie, Taylor, Rebecca, Isa, Corrie, Silvia, Lindsay, Jen, Sarah, JJ, Kris, Rebekah, Helen, Olivia, Maria, Katie, Emily, Joy, Karen, Ryann, Tamara, Shannon, Sarah, Jenny, J, Leah, Jesse, Heather, Melissa, Holly, Ann Marie, Debbie, Delia, Tracie, Sara, Laura, Nicole and Denise for inspiring this list. I’m grateful to you and everyone here at the Five Kids blog for being my base camp and constantly reminding me I’m not alone on this mountain. 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. I just came to your blog after reading your article on parenting methods on huff post. I loved your description of your twins – mine are exactly the same in being totally different from each other.
    Great post, btw. I’m still wondering whether to just bookmark it or print it and stick it on the fridge.

  2. <3 Love this, and you. Bookmarking this for tomorrow (or this afternoon) when I lose my shit and need a reminder =)

  3. And those difficult at times and oppositional children will someday grow up into wonderful young men and women that you are incredibly proud of. Cherish the time you have with your children because it too shall pass.

  4. Thank you Beth. Thank you for being Real, for posting about poop and boogers and lack of sleep and IEPs and hiding in the bathroom and depression and for just being you and for making a post like this one possible. Because 2 kids is a lot of kids and I step in things and I hide in the bathroom sometimes (or the laundry room) and depression is a very real thing and I needed this. Needed this post, need this Village, needed to know that I’m not alone, even though sometimes I feel so very alone, needed to know that it’s ok to just be me. Because it is, right? It’s ok if you are just you, so it’s ok if I am just me. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

  5. This is Awesome! I had somehow missed this until I saw some referrals to my webpage from here….Glad of it too… because I needed to hear all these things.

    Seriously, you have a way of taking what I’m thinking and putting it in a far funnier way..I’m totally sharing this in my mommy group…


  6. Thanks for your kind words. You all are SO my people.

  7. […] 20 Things Every Parent Should Hear […]

  8. wow. so amazing. so true! seriously! thank you 😉 you rock.

  9. You have such a wonderful, poignant way of framing parenthood. It is magic, it is a mess, it is wonder and joy, and most of all overwhelming.

    I love reading your blog because you make it all seem fantastic, and survivable. Which is a very handy reminder to have when everything falls to pieces. Thank you for being so insightful.

  10. You. Are. Awesome. <3 this so huge. Big huge. Crazy big huge.

  11. YES! These are all the things no one tells you before* you become a parent!

  12. My kids are grown and to look at them, it seems we parents did a good job, but it would have been great to read this then. Thanks Beth, I liked 13 and 16 as well. Mostly i tried to see the humor in things and give the guys choices, they now make their own without much help from mom,,, which i miss a little.

  13. I don’t read blogs because I don’t have time!! I may have to find time to read yours. Fabulous post and couldn’t agree more. We have 5 as well, also a mixture of adopted and natural with twins, I totally agree naming a kid Aden or Aiden in our case while knowing the name means fiery may not have been the best idea. My house looks like a tornado hit it and I am always trying to find the humor in the situation because if I don’t, I may go crazy. It’s nice to know we aren’t the only ones. Love it!

  14. I stumbled upon your blog just in time for Mother’s day. Truly funny, inspirational, and makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER at this trial-and-error experience called mothering.

  15. Thank you. Just… thank you.

  16. Yes to all of it! I am going to bookmark this one. Sometimes I need to remember that we ,parents, are all living parallel lives and someone else is going through the same schmidt as you.

  17. This is so good. I’m laughing and crying. Thanks for keeping it real and honest.

  18. Amen and amen!

  19. Love this: There’s a very fine line between enjoying the chaos and barely surviving. Actually, there’s no line at all. It’s all mixed up together. That “fine line” thing is a lie.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  20. You have such a gift of words Beth, thank you again for sharing your incredible talent with the rest of us and for helping “make camp” for those of us who need one.

  21. This is the best.thing.ever! Thank you

  22. Today, I needed number 16. 13 Made me laugh out loud! Thanks

  23. Beautiful framing Beth!

  24. Also, from the moment they’re born your kids will start outsmarting you. All your carefully researched theories, all your sleep schedules, all your plans–out the window. No one can do and end-run like your kid. You’ll be saying “Because I’m the Daddy and I say so” before you know it.

    Turns out, it’s a much better reason than I thought it was when I was the kid. Go figure.

  25. Rad times 10 billion!

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