How to Be a Parent

Mud BabySource:

“Before I got married, I had six theories about raising children. Now, I have six children and no theories.”

~John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (mid-1600s)

Thought for the Week

How to Be a Parent? The answer is anything but apparent (forgive the pun). Why? Because all parents are amateurs. I repeat, all parents. And it’s always been that way (note the date on the above quote). True, there was a time when people had twenty or even more children. But back then kids started working before they knew how to walk, and hardly ever even saw their parents (“Back off! Who are you?” “I’m your father…I think”).

So, we’re generally a lot more hands-on in this age of 1 ¾ children per family. Which is a blessing and a curse since it gives us more opportunities to make mistakes (the ¾ kid is often the first one since new parents are particularly clueless about how to raise a whole kid).

Also, it’s been noted that human infants, in contrast to other creatures, have hardly any instincts; when’s the last time you saw a newborn baby get up and walk out of the delivery room? So, from the beginning, human babies need their parents to teach them everything.

Their hopelessly amateur parents.

So, um, hello, God, what’s up with this plan? God’s answer: “Remember all those years I led you through the wilderness? Well, I did it to humble you” (Deuteronomy 8:2). Or, as J.M. Barrie puts it:

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”

Is this some kind of key to parenting? Yes. Because, although we may be amateurs at parenting, we’re all equipped to become experts in humility. It begins at birth with the natural-humility stage (“My parents are gods!”); then progresses through the young adult anti-humility stage (“I know more than my parents!”); and finally reaches full maturity at the humility-rediscovered stage (“I know nothing!”).

The only thing worse than having parents is not having parents. But in most cases, there are people ready to fill the role (whether officially or unofficially), and they’re just as gloriously amateur as genetic parents.

So humility is the one thing parenthood makes us experts at (if we let it). And oddly enough, modelling humility and love, not parental expertise, is what produces great kids, who in turn become…

Great adults.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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44 Responses to How to Be a Parent

  1. I love the J.M. Barrie quote!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Gary Fultz says:

    So very true Mitch. I remember the 3/4 one saying “I love your advice dad, I’ll even think about it”
    She is a negotiator now. She says the work place (legal firm) is easier than her kids.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dawn Marie says:

    Mitch, I couldn’t agree more! The biggest dose of anything I’ve received from my parenthood role has indeed been humility – and not always the kind I’d hoped for. More like the kind I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy! But praise be, God can make good from all things, which has evolved into some of the biggest blessings I’ve received as a result. Big hugs to you today for “speaking my language.” I am filled with gratitude to know I am not humbled alone…💕

    Liked by 4 people

  4. ejstoo says:

    There are resources though. I’m not sure if they still do it, but many colleges and universities with child departments offer courses. Nobody is perfect, but we do learn and can learn better.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Adelheid says:

    I super agree on this! 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah that was so humbling well done for helping me feel it.👏🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My replies are being cut .


  8. revruss1220 says:

    I love this. To this day – even though my “boys” are 43 and 45 years old respectively – I count parenting as the hardest, most fulfilling, most joy-filled job I was ever blessed to do. Even though I had zero clues about what I was doing.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Chaya Sheela says:

    Love this post!Like I repeatedly tell my two adult children, you didn’t come with a “booklet of directions”.
    So, dad and I tried to do our best. With the available resources and the current circumstances and always with your best interest in our minds.
    I remember thinking that THE child-raising book written by Dr. Spock, the expert-to-go-to-at-the-time, was no help in many situations. Gut feelings, unconditional love, and guidance from our elders helped us make our decisions.
    Though parenting is one of the toughest jobs, I feel blessed and am grateful for my children, the two wonderful human beings.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Manu says:

    I love that quote. And modelling humility and love – so very true Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lol this was hilariously true!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. murisopsis says:

    Amen! I was my parents’ guinea pig. My younger sisters had a much easier time since I was the trailblazer. My parents learned what worked and what didn’t! (Mostly my mother learned that white walls and strained peas were a bad combination.)

    Liked by 2 people

  13. #hood says:

    Deuteronomy 33:02


  14. And, every child is different! What works for one does not necessarily work for the other. Birth order is another hurdle.There’s no such thing as treating them all equally–only fairly (on a good day).

    Liked by 2 people

  15. gpavants says:


    Yes, humility is the path to so many things. It leads us to seek out help from God and others.

    In Christ,


    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m reading this as I’m about to mentor fathers at a women’s pregnancy center. Spot on advice that will come in handy! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So true. Didn’t learn enough from my parents. As a parent my kid won’t learn enough from me. God help us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sleep Tree says:

    Raising children for me is like : i’ve got this!!!!:-)’ one day, and the next ‘oh no I don’t!!!:-(…. but it’s all good to live through haha

    Liked by 1 person

  19. K.L. Hale says:

    Amen, Mitch! Humility ~parenting is a great lesson in this, indeed! It’s been amazing to witness my own sons as parents now. We share an understanding that wasn’t as defined before. Learning to say “I’m sorry” was as equally important as a parent to a friend or other roles I am. We’re human! It’s awesome when we let our kids know. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Great post! I always say that parenting teaches us the art of gradually letting go, from Day One.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Mary Ann says:

    Great post, the GIF reminded me of my childhood..
    No joke, like you I was also a wild Indian, so I’m told..
    I am three years younger than my sister, and she didn’t get into much mischief..
    But, being slathered in peanut butter was one of my crimes..
    My mother said she had to give me a bath in Dawn, so their motto must be true, they really do save wild life.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Merden says:

    Nice content I like “all parents are amateurs”

    Liked by 1 person

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