Wisdom hides in unexpected places
Some of the best advice and greatest examples I’ve gotten on raising a child are from those who don’t have any children of their own. It’s true that it’s difficult for someone to really understand what you’re going through unless they’ve experienced it firsthand. And certainly I’ve gotten invaluable advice from moms and dads and have seen excellent examples of motherhood. But I like finding great wisdom in unexpected places. I think it’s a way of God keeping us formula-free when it comes to faith and just plain living. When we’re in the throws of something super intense like raising littles, a fresh, “outside” perspective really helps .
Now my husband and I have a lot of both married and single friends who are a bit older (aka NOT early 20something newlyweds) who for X, Y or Z reason (medical issues, by choice, etc) do not have children. And I love hanging out with them. Sure it’s a bummer that they can’t bring their kids over to play with our daughter during a dinner party, but whatever. That’s what playdates are for. I love the childless one’s zest for life when they’ve come to the conclusion that with or without kids, they’re gonna go for it. And by it I mean really living and connecting with their passions. I truly am not jealous of them (or their lazy sleep-in days… ha ha, just kidding) because I love the stage of life I’m in, and I’m so happy and I see honor in the stage of life they’re in. Now for that advice I’ve gotten from them.
One friend is actually a cousin who has helped me be secure in my decisions for raising my daughter Cadence (or Cadie!). She’s the type of person then when I was in agony over what school Cadie should go to (or even homeschool?) reminded me that since Brent and I love our daughter and are trying to intentionally parent her, that it won’t matter what school she attends – we make the biggest impact. She also observed one day that for the first years of the life of a child, the child is teaching their parents a lot more than the parent is teaching their child, but after a certain point the roles switch and parents begin making a tremendous impact on their child. Agree with that or not, I happened to have found that really helpful.
We like to have all-nighters with a friend of ours where, we eat, drink and then have some intense discussions on life, faith, relationships, and video games. We know how to party. So on this one occasion, he got me talking about Cadie and I was talking about walking that fine line of teaching/discipline and giving her space to grow and develop into her own. This whole notion of giving my daughter “space” to find her own voice really resonated with him, and he really supported this idea and expressed how he wished he was given this more in his own childhood. He, too, has been an incredible resource for hashing out ideas I’ve had on childrearing and education.
Another brillant (literally!) cousin of mine is a distinguished professor, author and doula, training to be midwife. She has ushered in so many babies into this world, and really encourages and supports moms in the early months of having a baby with so much medical and emotional advice. She, being one who has never breastfed, offers excellent knowledge in this. In my own struggles of early motherhood, she has been a solid friend, one I can really listen to and take her advice knowing it comes from a source of love and truth.
Gosh I could go on and on. I have another friend, no kids, who truly makes your child feel like they are the most important person in the room. She will get down on her knee, look your kid in the eyes and just take pure joy in them. She really connects with children and babies like no one else I’ve seen. (I’ve known her for nearly 20 years, and we’ve traveled together around the world, so I’ve seen her in action a lot!!)
Why am I bringing this up? Well I think sometimes we omit the voices of those who don’t seem like a “typical” source for help. People who don’t seem to be qualified to speak truth to our situations, could actually be an invaluable treasure just waiting to be found. Are we listening to them? To the people who are quiet, or have had a rough go on life, or are just plain out in left field? It could be really refreshing to ask them a simple, “hey what are your thoughts on this” question – both for them and for you. Even just opening up to someone new, or someone you’ve known but haven’t really opened up to in a new way, can be a small change that could really course-correct some things in your own life. This is one way I’ve enjoyed thinking outside of my own parameters. Thoughts?