Advice to A New Parent from 8th Graders

I am- very happily, nervously, excitedly, and exhaustedly- expecting a baby boy this summer. As I read up on all the latest parenting books, make notes about feeding schedules, wash all of the baby clothes and baby sheets and baby towels and baby blankets and baby hats, and generally start the preparations that every first time parent begins,  I can’t help but think a little bit beyond the first year.

Everyone gives me advice about the first few weeks, or the first few months, or even the first year, but what I’m wondering about these days is: what will my boy be like as an 8th grader?

I’m sure that, as a parent, I won’t be in the position to ask for “advice” about parenting from my son. Can you imagine the conversation?

Me: “Son, how do you think I’m doing as a parent? Is there anything I’m doing that’s driving you crazy? Am I doing anything detrimental to your emotional or spiritual health? How might I improve?”

Son: “Um, mom, I wish you’d let me play Xbox more.” or “I dunno. It’s fine.”

Now, I find myself in a unique position. As a teacher, I’m free to ask for parenting advice from my 8th graders without having to a) actually listen to it or b) be in the awkward position of hearing about my actual flaws as a mother from the mouth of my own babe.  So I decided, with 4 weeks left in the semester, to capitalize on my unique position, and ask my 8th graders for advice.

On my student course feedback form, the last question I asked–an optional one– was the following: What do you wish your parents knew? What would be advice you have for Mrs. W as she raises her son?

For all parents out there, both new and old, you will be surprised, amused, saddened, and enlightened by what my 8th graders wrote. I’ve copied their anonymous responses below (in all of their grammatical glory). Enjoy.

  • Expose him to the world.
  • One thing I would do is not make promises and say things that you aren’t sure will follow through.
  • Don’t force your kid to have to be like you. I feel like that happened to me with my brother and I wish i had more options
  • I think that getting out and doing things with friends from a young age is very important and a crucial building point for everyone. Finding a music club or play group is great to learn basic social skills.
  • Don’t choose his friends for him. Encourage him to make his own friends and let him keep the ones that he likes. No kid ever wants to be friends with someone that they don’t like. If he doesn’t like someone, don’t make him be friends with that person. Good luck!
  • Don’t let them watch too much TV as a kid, and avoid shows like spongebob that have no learning value. My parents made sure of this, and I feel like this has helped me appreciate better and more enriching forms of entertainment more.
  • Just do some activity with him like go to the zoo or the aquarium as much as you can because that would be fun.
  • Let him do whatever he wants except drugs. Drugs are bad.
  • Take spanish instead of french in kindergarden.
  • [L]et him learn the value of working hard for something and not taking things for granted.
  • Keep you temper with him. If he screws up, make him not want to do it again. Don’t just spank him.
  • I feel like discipline is a real big part in being raised up. I feel that a child should be given proper instruction while growing, but if you look back at a situation wre you think that you have been too hard. You should try to make ti up for him
  • Sports, get your son to play as many sports as possible, it is the most rewarding thing ever. I love sports (esp. baseball) and I can’t get enough of it. Also, get your son to start earning money as soon as possible, in any way possible, he’ll definitely want a steady stream of income to fuel his recreational activities later on.
  • Let the kid be a kid.
  • Talk to your baby while it is in your stomach because the more you talk to it, when it comes out, it will be more responsive to your voice
  • Don’t be to strict on your children
  • I wish my parents remembered the first 3 years of my life but they don’t remember anything about my baby years. Also sports are good.
  • Take videos and track milestones that the baby has done/completed.
  • I think one thing that you can do is let him chose his own path and always support him.
  • I wish my parents would not have physical punishments like spankings and instead they would have used other disciplinary actions.
  • Read. A LOT. Every day, read. If you get time off of school to care for him, spend entire days just playing to him and reading to him. It is worth it. My mom read to me from the day I was born, so I could read by myself at three-and-a-half (all credit to my mom.)
  • Don’t let him give up on something because if he doesn’t he’ll end up loving it.
  • I wish my parents had enrolled me into spy school. I’m joking. I wish that my parents got me a pet unicorn.Sorry about that but I can’t resist. So many punchlines. In actuality, I think that you should get your boy reading from a very early age, to inspire that desire to read and to learn very early on, which will carry on most of his life.
  • Some boys enjoy physical challenges, some like physicality as long as what is being done is not repetitive, and some dislike strenuous physical exercise entirely. Personally, i like strict direction and requirements (and exercise), but i complain because i enjoy arguments. Complaining doesn’t necessarily mean dislike.
  • Make sure to get him involved with sports, but don’t force him on any. Make him play a bunch of sports the first year he can actually start playing and then let him pick 3 or 4 that he really likes.
  • Always keep a good relationship with your son even as he gets older and make sure he is HAPPY.
  • i think something I think my parents were a lot better at is not getting really frustrated. Especially when you are a kid, you are going to mess up a lot and sometimes there is not much that you can do about it/prevent it. It is always really frustrating if your parents just yell at you or ground you or anything like that. I think something that would be really helpful is instead of getting grounded or yelled at, I wish my parents would help me a lot more so it wouldnt happen again, not just get angry. I am sure that Mrs. [W] would not get mad like that but my main point is just to be more lenient in the sense of helping a kid when they mess up (she is good at that).
  • “Look at Pinterest! They have a TON of cute ideas and everything. Also, make sure he knows and understands these quotes:””God is first, my friends are second, and I am third.””””Be the change you wish to see in the world.”””
  • Don’t make promises you aren’t sure you can keep.
  • Make sure to get him involved in after school activities/sports at an early age so he doesn’t regret it later.
  • Be understanding, caring, listen. Don’t be strict but also be in control
  • My pediatrician told this to my mom. “Know the quickest way to the hospital or minute clinic, because no matter what you do as a parents, boys will be boys.”
  • Be helpful when he needs you but don’t pry too much into his life.
  • Bundles of Love!!!!
  • First of all congratulations! I would give him a little freedom, and as he grows up start to give him more freedom. My parents dont like to give me freedom and i resent them for it. i was given more freedom as a child, and they havent given me any more than i had. because i got so much, i got used to it, and now that i am older and want more, they dont want to give it up. also be forgiving and dont hold things over them or they will just want to spend less and less time with you. if you are too strict, they will become more and more rebellious and not like you as much…
  • Since it is a boy do not name him John. My dad says that it is the hardest name for people to remember later in life. My dad’s name is John so he has a first hand experience. (People always forget his name).
  • Let your child make their own decisions, don’t force them to do anything they don’t want to but lead them in the right directions. Be understanding of the child and hear their whole story of things. Just always be happy around him and enjoy him.
  • Be cool, not too over protective.
  • Open mind– If a parent keeps an open mind, a child is more willing to talk to his/her parents about anything.
  • Get him involved in things early on, try to find what he will like and try to get him to stick with it.
  • Have patience!
  • “Have FUN with him!
  • – Since it’s a boy, make sure that he is a good gentleman!!!
  • Buy him lots of preppy clothes and make sure he respects girls.
  • Make sure to keep some time for yourself 🙂
  • Make sure your boy is properly raised and well-rounded in all fields. By this I mean have him involved in athletics, the Arts, rigorous academics, and anything else you can think of.
  • You son will probably try to climb out of his crib, so put pillows around his crib. I know someone whose kid did this every night!
  • Trusting your husband with babies is not always a wise decision.
  • If you want him to be really athletic (for example maybe in tennis) , then he should start practicing at a really young age. This will give him a huge advantage against other players because he has more experience then them.
  • Never tell your son “Good job, you’re very smart!” because they will grow up thinking that they are smart. Eventually they will start to get lazy to do work and to study. They will think that they are too smart and they will think that they do need to study or turn in work on time. This will turn into a bad habit of becoming lazy with school. To prevent this, whenever your son has accomplish something change the “you’re very smart” to “with your effort you did well!” Make them grow up thinking that it’s their effort that makes them accomplish things. This will get them to give their all in all things.
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3 Responses to Advice to A New Parent from 8th Graders

  1. Susan Roberts says:

    Thank you! Their responses are as fabulous as was your idea to ask them for their advice and opinion about what they like/don’t like about their upbringing. This is a treasure trove of insight–for you and your husband, as well as for the parents of your class. May God bless you and your family as you embark on a wonderful new path along the journey of your lives.

    • epdwilliams says:

      Mrs. Roberts,
      Thank you so much for your comment. I am always amazed by the insightfulness of my students! (By now, I know I shouldn’t be!). Thank you for your kind wishes.

  2. cajuncart says:

    I love this. It’s so honest, so real, so authentic…so YOU. And there’s no way baby W will not be a lover in this glorious life with you and S and his loving, amazing parents. Blessings are here and now…and more to come…

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