He and his organization, Focus on the Family, were so invaluable to me as a young mom with 3 kids under 5. Some days I just did not know how to cope with a strong-willed child or how to get my house clean or how to be the mom I thought I would be. And I would listen to his radio broadcast and get some clarity for that day.
So in that same frame of mind, with preschool and elementary years way behind me, here's a few tips for my friends who are moms of that age.
1. You will either take extreme pride or extreme indifference over how many birthdays you did cupcakes or whatever for school. I'm more on the pride side, because taking cupcakes on birthdays made me feel like I did something right. But I have a friend on the indifference side who asked me, "How many birthdays do you remember now that you are an adult?"
2. I still don't know of a child who took a pacifier to kindergarten.
3. All the tricks and games I used to get young son potty trained didn't work half as well as his going to 3 year old preschool and getting to go to the bathroom with other boys who were potty trained. Yay for peer pressure!
4. None of my children remember how clean our house was in that time when I had a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and a newborn. They do remember the fun day we decorated Christmas cookies and got confectioner's sugar all over the kitchen. Do stuff now, clean stuff later.
5. I have roughly 4000 pictures of zoo animals that we took on trips to the zoo. Anyone need rhinoceros pictures? Trust me, take less pictures at the zoo.
6. I am just about caught up with sleep, with a 20 year old, a 19 year old, and a 15 year old.
7. Making rules based on respect, health, and safety was one of the best things I ever did. I'm so glad I didn't make arbitrary rules to establish myself as an autocratic parent. Have ice cream for dinner one night in the summer? Yes.
8. Giving a child a chance to redeem him or herself after making a mistake is one of the most profitable experiences he or she will have. It teaches grace and makes it easier for you, the parent, to make it right when you screw up as a parent of teens and young adults. And it will happen.
No one's perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. But when you seek after God for wisdom, it will totally come to you! Read the Bible and let it transform your way of thinking. God has a cool way of doing that.
And a little James Dobson never hurt.