When our daughter was a baby, she was gifted at removing her socks. And shoes. Actually anything on her feet. Give her two seconds and they were gone. For some reason, this bothered women over the age of sixty. You would have thought a barefoot baby…in a stroller…indoors was the definition of child neglect. The lectures I got were unbelievable. I am sure they meant well, but honestly socks on a baby’s feet (or mine either for that matter) were never a high priority.
It is easy to understand why after months of pregnancy and childbirth advice and then well meaning but sometimes strange baby advice, many moms get angry at anyone giving them any advice. The sad thing is there are godly women out there who could make our parenting journey a lot easier and more successful if we would ask for, listen to and take their advice. The question becomes to whose advice should I listen and when is it safe to do my own thing?
There is no absolute answer, but the next time someone gives you parenting advice here are some things to consider before ignoring it:
- Is the advice something about training your child’s character or pointing your child towards God? Advice about teething, growing pains or socks may be good, bad or indifferent. If it may affect the health of your child, it’s probably best to check with your pediatrician to make sure it won’t harm him. Otherwise, it’s up to you and your research. Spiritual advice, though requires you to listen respectfully and then run it through the following tests. Do not discount spiritual advice just because it is from someone older or sounds a bit old fashioned. God may have put that person and their advice in your life for a very important reason. Their advice could have eternal consequences for your child.
- Is the advice from a godly, Christian woman (or man)? Yes, others may give good advice that lines up with God’s commands. In general though, you want to get advice about spiritual matters from someone who is actively studying and living God’s Words. This is the voice of wisdom and experience. This woman may still be wrong, but the odds are she can at least point you to the scriptures to help you make a godly decision for yourself.
- Is the advice from an experienced parent? (Warning! This is a trick question!) I have seen some non-parents give wonderful, godly parenting advice. They may not have raised a child, but perhaps they are a teacher or nanny – someone with years of experience helping raise the children of other people. Maybe they had excellent parents and remember what their parents did that worked for them. Don’t discount good, godly advice just because it comes from a non-parent.
- Is the advice reflecting God’s laws and godly principles? If someone counsels you to allow your children to lie for example, I don’t care if they pass every other test in this post. Their advice does not match God’s commands and should be ignored.
- Is the advice from a parent who has older children who are acting in godly ways or from a parent who has learned from their mistakes? If the advice is coming from another parent, take a look at their children. No one has perfect kids, but don’t take advice about helping your kids get something from worship from a parent whose teen refuses to even attend worship. On the other hand, I have heard some parents, whose adult children have rejected God, give young parents excellent advice. They have learned the hard way what they should have done.
Don’t let your frustration at the “sock” ladies keep you from being humble enough to learn from the godly wisdom of others. The best moms are humble enough to seek godly advice and heed it. It is the pattern God suggests multiple times in the Bible (in different ways). Learning about parenting from other godly people, may just make your journey a lot easier and more successful.