My oldest child is in her first year of college. I’ll never forget when I hugged her for the last time before I said goodbye. Now, as I look back over how I parented her, I see many things I could’ve done better, but I also see things I somehow got right.
Staying up late to talk.
As children get older, they stay up later and later and later. There were many nights I stayed up late just to hang around my kids. No regrets.
Making it a point to hug, hug, hug.
Take the extra seconds to hug your children, no matter how much of a hurry you’re in. If they’re the ones trying to squirm out of it, keep it light: “Hey! I need to 10-second hug! Hugs are healthy!”
Putting down your devices.
When I hear my children making their way to me, I close my laptop, put away my phone, and give them my full attention. Devices don’t grow up and leave home. Children do. Giving more time to your children than to your devices is one of the biggest things you’ll never regret.
Tracking their location.
When my children were very young, I wrote a piece about hands-on parents. That research showed, among other things, that parents who knew where their kids were at all times raised kids who were less likely to “smoke, drink, get drunk, use illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs.”
Teaching them about God.
We can’t force our children to make faith a part of their lives, but we can share our faith with them and model for them what it looks like. A wise man said that “God is an ever-present help in times of trouble.” I want my children to have that help as they move through life.
Doing a parenting 180.
When my daughter was 7, I recognized that I was being harsh with her. In the mornings, when the kids were getting ready for school, I would bark at my daughter, “Come on! You’re going to make us late!” But I would be sweet and patient with my younger child: “Come on, buddy. Do you need help finding your shoes?” My husband pointed it out to me and at first, I was defensive. But after some self-reflection, I realized he was right.
Getting the giant car.
I’m a research nerd. So when I read what the experts said about big, clunky cars being safer for teenagers, we bought my daughter the big, used, non-cool car.
Working on your marriage.
When my marriage is strong, my home feels strong, and that’s the environment I have always wanted for my kids. If your marriage is struggling, visit our Marriage Help section and if you’re considering divorce, read this.
Letting them quit violin.
I understand the importance of teaching our children to follow through, but when something isn’t a good fit for your child, it’s OK to change course. I wanted to instill a love of music in my daughter, but after many years of lessons, we both realized it wouldn’t come through the violin.
Taking the trip.
We never redid our back yard, painted our house, or spent a lot of money on nice cars. But we did travel as much as we could. Whether to a state park or a big birthday visit to a big city, I don’t regret making those memories—even if our back yard is still a disaster.
So, what are the things you’ll never regret in your parenting? I’d love to know!