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My husband and I are the brand new parents of a little girl. Even though she’s an infant, we want to get a head start on understanding how to parent her as she grows up. When I go online to search out parenting resources, I immediately get overwhelmed with all of the advice that is out there. Some parenting experts make it seem so complicated about all of the things we need to remember so we don’t damage our daughter’s self-esteem. We aren’t sure where to start or who to pay attention to. We both come from divorced families and don’t completely agree with some of the ways we were parented in all of that mess. We want to do things differently with our daughter when it comes to parenting. Can you direct us to some good parenting resources?
First of all, I want to extend a heartfelt congratulation to you and your husband on becoming parents! This is such a special time as you welcome this little daughter into your lives. Even though her needs are basic right now, you’re wise to begin thinking about how you will guide her in the coming years.
As you mentioned, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the theories on how to raise children. Like fashion or home décor, there are also parenting trends that come and go. Some are harmless while other practices can actually create more problems between parents and children.
Even though I will suggest some helpful parenting resources at the end of my response, I first want to point you to principles that will help you decide what resources will be most helpful to your family.
There are many teachers and voices seeking to influence how we direct our lives and the lives of our children. Everyone from your neighbor down the street to the latest best selling author have opinions on how you should raise your daughter. When faced with something as weighty as raising a child, we naturally long for direction and answers. It’s just critical to make sure you listen to the right teachers.
Throughout the scriptures we see examples of God’s concern with who is authorized to teach his children. For example, in Mosiah 2:4, King Benjamin made sure to appoint “just men” to be the teachers of the people. Adam and Eve sought heaven’s guidance as they found themselves in a new and unfamiliar place.[i] Joseph Smith and all of the latter-day prophets followed the same pattern of turning heavenward for answers.[ii] The pattern of turning to God for answers to our most important questions has been established from the foundation of the world.
Before you start sifting through parenting books and articles, make sure you’re turning to Heavenly Father for answers about your daughter. Elder L. Tom Perry reminds us that Heavenly Father “has entrusted to your care His eternal children. As parents we partner, even join, with God in bringing to pass His work and glory among His children. It is our sacred duty to do our very best.”[iii] Parenting advice must always be filtered through the truths found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His teachings are the foundation for successful family life.[iv]
There are family scholars of all faiths who teach specific ways to guide children that are in harmony with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When you internalize the teachings of the Savior, you’ll more easily discern truth from error as you read parenting advice. There are lots of wonderful ways to structure your family and guide your daughter. Don’t believe for one minute that there is one right way to raise your daughter. She is an individual with specific gifts, a unique temperament, a personality, and other distinguishing features that will help you determine how you will help her navigate the world.
You don’t need to fret today about knowing how you will guide her as a preschooler or a teenager. Those answers will come as you need them. Elder David A. Bednar taught that personal revelation most commonly comes gradually, much like the sun rising in the day. It arrives in degrees instead of arriving instantly, like turning on a light switch. He continues:
The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30). Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation. Such communications from Heavenly Father gradually and gently “distil upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven” (D&C 121:45). This pattern of revelation tends to be more common than rare and is evident in the experiences of Nephi as he tried several different approaches before successfully obtaining the plates of brass from Laban (see 1 Nephi 3–4). Ultimately, he was led by the Spirit to Jerusalem, “not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do” (1 Nephi 4:6). And he did not learn how to build a ship of curious workmanship all at one time; rather, Nephi was shown by the Lord “from time to time after what manner [he] should work the timbers of the ship” (1 Nephi 18:1).[v]
I am confident that you as you stay close to God and seek direction, he will guide you to resources and answers that will help you give your daughter the guidance perfectly designed for her life. Dr. Brene Brown reminded us that “children are wired for struggle”, so we don’t need to live in fear of making mistakes.[vi] As long as you are conscientious and seeking answers for how to bless her life, these mistakes will be repaired and help all of you grow and progress.
Here are just a few parenting resources that have blessed our family over the years:
Between Parent and Child – Haim Ginott, Alice Ginott, and H. Wallace Goddard
Wally Goddard’s articles on Meridian Magazine – http://ldsmag.com/author/wallace-goddard/
The Child Whisperer – Carol Tuttle
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, How to Listen so Kids Will Talk – Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Siblings Without Rivalry – Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child – John M. Gottman
Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, UT. He is the owner of Alliant Counseling and Education (www.alliantcounseling.com) and the founding director of LifeStar of St. George, an outpatient treatment program for couples and individuals impacted by pornography and sexual addiction (www.lifestarstgeorge.com). He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, available at Deseret Book, and the audio series “Strengthening Recovery Through Strengthening Marriage”, available at www.marriage-recovery.com. He also writes a weekly relationship column for the St. George News (www.stgnews.com). He holds a bachelors degree from BYU in communications studies and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Auburn University. He served a full-time mission to the Dominican Republic. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.
[i] Moses 5:4-5
[ii] Joseph Smith History 1:8-11