16 Things I’ve Learned in 16 Years of Parenting

Yesterday we celebrated our oldest 16th birthday.  So, in honor of his birthday and being our first child where we learned from and made mistakes, I wanted to give you 16 things I've learned so far as a parent:

1. Parenting Sucks – I thought I might go ahead and get your attention. It by no means is horrible, but is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have. We don’t get to quit. We don’t get to throw in the towel when it gets too complicated. It’s hard, and if you don’t think it is I want to live in your glass house. To look into our baby's eyes and see their sweetness when they are little, to see them win every softball game and catch every touchdown as they grow older, or to hear them say I love you every day makes you want to stop time and stay in those moments. Those are the moments when you love being a parent. I can do without the hard ones.

2. It’s Expensive – Kids are expensive. That’s it, they just are.

3. Let Them See Your Passion for God – We have to lead by example. I know most people say live, but I say lead. Lead your child on what it looks like to seek after God. Let them hear you pray in your prayer closet. Let them not just seeing you read your Bible, but leading a life from the Bible. Our kids mimic us at such a young age and as they get older they watch us. They watch how we will react to a family hurt, how we talk about our finances, how we talk about others.

4. Tell Them How Proud You Are Of Them – Children need affirmation, period. We don’t need to take a personality test to figure that out. All kids need to hear their parents say how proud they are of them. Proud of the win. Proud how they handled a situation. Whatever it is, tell them before they go looking for approval somewhere else.

5. We Don’t Get Refunds – You don’t get to take your kids back and ask if you can exchange them for another one, or if you can get a refund and try again later. This is where we get to do what God says..Love One Another. Jose and I have been joking lately as the kids are now 13, 14, 14, and 16, “Dang, we are living with people now. Like, we have to like them!” If you have young children, enjoy them while they are shaping their personalities because later those personalities may get a little personal.

6. Gather Around The Table – I’m sad to say I figured this out more this year than ever before. I posted this on Instagram and have still been going strong.

7. Find a MOPS Group – Every time I talk to a new mom, my first words out of my mouth are, “Get involved in a MOPS group. It will be the best thing you ever do for yourself and your family.” After being with MOPS for 10 years, I still love what they do and believe in this incredible ministry. If you have a child 5 and under…find a group. You are not alone.

8.  Sorry is a 5-Letter Word – Teach forgiveness by showing it. It’s easy to ignore the past and move on as if our memories have somehow erased it. But let me tell you a secret – they don’t. Apologies move families forward. I learned with my father, you only have so many tomorrows.

9. You Are Who God Says You Are – One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is a solid foundation of the Word. I find this more and more as the kids are right smack into their teenage years.

10. Talk About Your Heritage/Culture – Celebrate your culture with them. I’m Hispanic, the hubby is Hispanic and Christmas is coming up and our tradition is to make tamales for Christmas Eve. Celebrate those things that make you unique. God doesn’t ever see a color, He only sees people.

11.  God Gave You Everything You Need – In Romans 12, Paul talks about God allotting each of us a measure of faith. When I speak to MOPS groups, I talk to them about patience and how we as moms pray for patience, when God has given us all the patience we need when He created us. He didn’t say, “Well, now that little Johnny is here, I guess I’m gonna have to give Judy more patience.” He gave you everything you need for these moments. God doesn’t make mistakes or errors, He creates perfection which can only be found in our measure of faith in Him.

12.  Perfect is Impossible – I wanted to be a mom like Mrs. Cleaver or Mrs. Huxtable, then reality set in. Who cares if your house is a mess? Who cares if you didn’t have dinner on the table at 5pm and a scrumptious dessert? Work-Life-Balance, what’s that? There is no such thing as perfect, if there is then read #1 again.

13. We Are All Not The Same Size – I’m sure most of us have read, if not heard, the book - What to Expect When Your Expecting. I followed this book to a tee. When the babies were here it seemed at times what they were doing and what other books were telling me, were completely opposite. I would call my mom for help and get the, “gosh, it was so long ago, I don’t remember.” As if somehow I was 45 and not 25. We are all different, but we can all encourage one another.

14. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is – Let them see you tithe and give offerings. Let them see you pick from the Angel Tree. Let them see you give to those in need. Talk with them how God met a need, made a way where there seemed to be no way or how the check came in just in time. They need to see this BIG God we serve and a faith that moves mountains.

15. Sex During Marriage with Kids Stinks – Oh, come on, really?? Ok, no, not really, but dang, let’s get honest. As the kids get older, you have to wait until they go to bed, fall asleep and by then you’re crashed yourself. And at 12:30am you’re just not feeling it.

16.  We Are Part Of A Bigger Picture – In the grand scheme of things, we get our kids for 18 years. We get to use everything God put in us to parent our children. We get to give them a solid foundation of who they are in Christ, guide them to become a Christ-follower and to seek Him passionately. We get to see them succeed and pick them up when they stumble. We get to put a band-aid on their boo-boo’s and hold hands as we pray in tears. And when they hit 18, we say, “Here they are God. I hope I used everything you put in me to use as a parent. I pray I did this parenting thing right.” But ultimately, we are part of God’s bigger picture, to love, make disciples, and reunite in Heaven. Isn't that really what its all about?

What have you learned as a parent? I would love to hear!