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I didn’t 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, my grandparents, and I were in a hospital room in Kalamazoo, Michigan, while my dad was in Vietnam.

Our father-daughter introduction 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. 

A couple of years 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 asked if I could share it. 

It was only a courtesy request, really. I was absolutely going to share it.

Thanks, Dad. I love you so much.

My Dad’s Wisdom On Parenting: Things He Did, Things He Wishes He’d 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 help establish a good foundation of values and truth. If he or she doesn’t get this early in life at home and 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.

 Originally published on the author’s blog

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.

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