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Applying Parental Advice

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

"Wisdom is wasted on the old more so than youth is wasted on the young." - Raymond 'Red' Reddington (Blacklist).

For many of us, accepting and applying advice from our elders is challenging. In part we believe "it does not really apply," and in some instances we are not sure how to apply that advice, or when to enact the tenets in real time. Therefore, presumably timely and relevant advice is provided, but after the fact we realize how valuable the advice was, and how unfortunate it is that we did not actually utilize it to our benefit.

I would offer the above challenge does not just apply with advice from our elders. It applies when our peers offer insights they may have attained from traveling a similar path just a few years before us. This creates the caveat noted in the blog title. Receiving advice from a peer parent (with older children) about what they may have experienced and then determining, gauging and implementing said advice within our family is the challenge. Some are open to such advice and insights, others look cautiously and act conservatively. This may be due to disbelief, distrust, ignorance or the universal "that doesn't apply to my situation." Any of which devalue the wisdom of years, experience and insights our peers or older parents attained and offered to us.

I read FaceBook, and social media sites with those seeking parenting advice. And I hear questions asked about "what did you do," but the unknown is to what extent is the advice applied? I know there were instances where another peer parent whose children were only a few years older than mine gave me advice and I immediately dismissed because I was operating under "a different set of rules." Then in a few years realized they were actually right.

Some younger parents believe their situation is different because of the generational disparity, presence of social media, or societal differences; but in actuality, the principles of parenting remain unchanged. Regardless of the "differences" we as parents are still charged to protect and equip our children to enable them to reach their full potential and achieve peace, joy and happiness. The social challenges our youth face may morph due to adjusted societal norms and technology, but when you peel the onion back, the core issues remain -- relationships. academic/athletic performance, making sense of situations, bullying, defining standards, fitting in - and what of those did we not face when we were kids? I would argue younger kids today are facing them as well, just with a caveat here or there.

So, when I got my first truly impactful advice from an older parent who realized he missed his kids "growing up" because he did not invest enough time when they were younger that when they became teenagers his influence was greatly reduced, I translated that to tangible actions with my daughters. And later, when another peer parent shared a story of a challenge he had with his soccer playing daughter, I took practical steps to address that issue before it emerged in my house.

This demands a willingness to listen to what peer or older parents share, and a conscious effort to determine how that advice applies. I believe when our elders give advice, in their heart they want to make our situation better based on their experience. But at the end of the day, it is the younger parent who must own it, and leverage others insights for their foresight, prayerfully to the benefit of the child.

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