Free Parenting Advice (I know. I know. But hear me out.)


(I know. I know. But hear me out.)

Perhaps the Single Most Important Thing I’ve learned about parenting in my 23 years working this shtick is HOLD YOUR PARENTING STYLE LOOSELY. Try something. If it works, FANTASTIC. Pat yourself on the back. Give yourself a high five. Because Things That Work don’t come along every day, and also Things That Work morph like gremlins in water to Things That Definitely DO NOT Work faster than a toddler to the cat box. Faster than a baby to a knife. Faster than a teenager to I Was Only Going to Light Off ONE Firework in My Hand. 🙄 FAST, in other words. Lightning, friends.

I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve had to reevaluate how we’re parenting. Based on the kid. Based on the phase of the moon. Based on my caffeine intake. But I’ll bet it’s in the thousands. 5 kids x 23 years x the Shifting Winds of needs + growth = thousands of times. You can check my math—I’m a big fan of peer-reviewed science—but I’m pretty sure it’s on point.

Well, we had to make another shift today. It’s OK. It happens. It doesn’t necessarily mean we were wrong before. Just that parameters have changed. See, our parenting practice up until this morning was Unconditional Love. It seemed pretty obvious. Pretty solid. But then our teenage boys went with their youth group on a Donut Tasting Mission. (Because Jesus wants us to Know and Understand in our hearts where to find the Best Donut in Portland.) And…I’m almost ashamed to tell you this, but vulnerability is important, so…they didn’t bring us back any. Not ANY. ZERO DONUTS IS THE NUMBER THEY BROUGHT TO ME.

Friends, somewhere along the line during my hippy-dippy, everyone-is-welcome, come-as-you-are, bring-me-your-weird, I-love-you-no-matter-what child rearing days, my children got the message that they do not have to buy my love with donuts.

Now, yes. I could beat myself up about this. I could wring my hands and cry hot tears. But instead I’m just going to use this opportunity to reevaluate my parenting. Clearly, Unconditional Love requires Conditions. So that’s our new parenting style. CONDITIONAL LOVE IS WHERE IT’S AT. I’m telling the kids at dinner.

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