The Greatest Parenting Advice I’ve Ever Received

It’s the greatest parenting advice I’ve ever received!


And, this advice has taken us into the college years with our kids.

It’s the greatest parenting advice I've ever received! Literally. And, this advice has taken us into the college years with our kids. Find out how you can win and keep the hearts of your children - no matter what age they are!

We aren’t perfect, and they aren’t perfect; but, this wise bit of instruction has kept the relationships we have with our children open and positive.

The incredible advice was given to us when our children were very small.

We were living in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA.

It was during that time that we met some of our favorite people in this world, including our friends Debbie and Christie. Although these ladies were just a few years my senior, they were further along in raising their children.

Debbie had two teenage girls and Christie had 3 kids: one child in high school, one child in middle school, and an elementary student.

At that point; our son, Riley, was only about 4, and our daughter, Emily, was about 2.

As I spent time with these friends, I got to watch and see how they treated their children and their husbands.

I got to see what they did and hear what they said.

They modeled for me so many wise parenting principles and gave me so much great advice.

Although we were just “doing life together” and hanging out, their lives had a profound impact on my future and how I would learn to treat my husband and my kids.

It was during that period that I began to grasp this greatest parenting tip.

Are you ready to hear it?

The greatest parenting tip ever:

Win their HEARTS as little children and keep their hearts through their growing years.

When they are grown up, they will still like you and want to be around you because you never lost their HEARTS.

Do everything you can to KEEP THEIR HEARTS! Click To Tweet

It may not sound profound, but let’s walk through it:

As Newborns and Infants….

  • They start out so small and fragile and cute.
  • They come to us as little bundles of joy all wrapped up with a special little hat and tiny toes and fingers.
  • We hold them, kiss them, rock them, feed them, change them and care for their every need.
  • Helpless, precious and small, we are their 24-hour caregivers in those first few days.

As Little Babies

  • They start to grin and babble and “converse” with you.
  •  They rock to music, talk to their toys, roll, scoot, and some even crawl.
  • They are needy and precious and many get quite “chunky” at this stage.
  • They still need us for almost everything, but they are a little easier to handle.

As Babies on the move

  • Crawling or walking begin and life starts to get really crazy.
  • The cabinet locks go on. The plug protectors go in.
  • The doors and windows are barred. The sharp edges are rubberized.
  • Life is now filled with bumps, bruises, and much exploration.
  • They are so cute and busy at this stage.
  • They still need you.

During the Two’s

  • They beg you not to leave them.
  • Cling to you at the nursery.
  • And, oh, they are into everything!

It’s the greatest parenting advice I've ever received! Literally. And, this advice has taken us into the college years with our kids. Find out how you can win and keep the hearts of your children - no matter what age they are!

During the Threes and Fours

  • They are so much FUN!
  • Ask tons of questions. 
    • No question is off-limits.
  • Love you and everyone else.
  • Like to go and do and explore.
  • Life is crazy and an adventure.

In Kindergarten and first grades

  • Still sweet and pretty simple.
  • Don’t understand sarcasm.
  • Still, love their parents.
  • You can still go eat lunch with them at school. 

In 2nd through 4th grades

  • They become a little more independent.
  • Still, like you to be “Room Mom” and to bring cupcakes.
  • Good years. Happy years. Sweet years.
  • Lots of great learning taking place.

In 5th Grade

  • Start to transition toward middle school.
  • Growing and changing a lot.
  • Still pretty sweet at this stage for most middle schoolers.

In 6th Grade –Around Ages 12-13

  • One Night…
  • Overnight…
  • Out of the blue…
  • Unexpectedly, they enter this strange and unavoidable place–my friend Rhonda calls:

“The Dark Side” 

That sweet kid becomes:

  • Moody, independent, not so sweet,
  • They all of a sudden don’t like you.
  • In one night, you can lose all of your credibility, coolness, and love.

~ Looks sort of like – “A 2-year-old having a fit”

~ Sounds like, “Please drop me at the corner so my friends won’t see you with me.”

~ Sounds like, “Do you have to come in? Do you have to go with us?”

~ Or, “Can you leave the cupcakes at the school office for my birthday?”

~ Or, “Can you not hug me in front of my friends?”

~ Or, “Mom, you are so loud?”

~ Or, “Dad, are you really wearing that?”

You go from “hero to zero” overnight. From best friend to enemy in 24 hours.

That clingy kid becomes the standoff-ish child in a matter of hours.

But, don’t despair, the “Dark Side” is just a season.

It’s just a spot in time when your child will act really weird.

For boys, it is more about crying over things, hitting things, sensitivity, and being upset easily. There are: changing hormones and emotions, wanting to please their peers, and being a little embarrassed by you.

For girls, it’s about changing emotions, hormones, mood swings, drama, being embarrassed by you, wanting to please their friends and lots of tears.

What can we do to continue to hold on to their hearts while they are living over on the Dark Side? Click To Tweet

~ How do we keep the lines of communication open?

~ How do we deal with their surly looks and sassy comebacks?

~ How can you start preparing now?

~ What can you do to get ready for this season?

~ What can parents do to ensure they don’t completely lose touch with their kids?

There’s a book I’ve written just to help parents like you!

You can find out more about this practical resource HERE.

Just know… There is hope for you no matter what age your child is!

It is never too late for you to win that child's, heart! Click To Tweet

No matter how old you are or how old that child is, you can always take measures to build a bridge to his or her heart!

Join me next week as we start building that bridge…

For now, I encourage you to do 3 things:

1) Take a good, hard look at your relationship with each of your kids.

2) Ask yourself, “Do I really HAVE the heart of this child?”

3) Pray and talk these things over with the Lord.

Galatians 6:9 seems appropriate as I close:

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.

At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

It’s the greatest parenting advice I've ever received! Literally. And, this advice has taken us into the college years with our kids. Find out how you can win and keep the hearts of your children - no matter what age they are!

So, what stage are your kids in?

  • Are they still sweet?
  • Are they starting to change?
  • If they are grown, what sort of relationship do you have with them?
  • What did you do to keep their hearts through the dark years?
  • What is the best parenting advice you’ve ever been given?

 Were you encouraged by what you read today?

Would you share this article with a friend, co-worker, or family member?

Maybe you can send it to a friend or family member?

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© Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Blessed wife of Randy for over 25 years, mom to two great college students, blogger, women's ministry coach, speaker and author who is amazed by God's grace-

52 thoughts on “The Greatest Parenting Advice I’ve Ever Received

  1. I am SO looking forward to this series! I have been hashing over this with my husband and some dear friends this week. My son is 13 now and the dark side has appeared. I do have his heart right now and want to keep it that way! I am thrilled I found you at #TotallyTerrificTuesday!
    Blessings and smiles,

    1. Hey Lori,

      Thank you! I really appreciate your words of encouragement!

      And, I will pray with you for your 13 year old son! You can get through this. Moms do it all the time! And, you are going to do great!

      Take some deep breaths. This is a walk, not a sprint. One step at at time, one issue at a time, one prayer at a time.

      Praying that God will give you much wisdom and grace today!

  2. My son is a one year old on the move, so I am eager to read your series! I taught 5th grade for several years before becoming a mom. There were a few kids that had moved to “the dark side” so I know what you are talking about! Although it is a whole other thing to deal with as a parent than as a teacher, I’m sure!

    1. Thanks for stopping by today to share a kind word! I really do appreciate you!

      And, I think one is a great time to work on cultivating that kid’s heart! He will be in the 5th grade before you know it!

      I pray that God will make you so wise! It sounds like you are already a wonderful mom~

      Hope you have a blessed day,

  3. Oh Melanie, this is simply wonderful, and I love that advice. This sounds like a lovely series idea. I don’t look forward to the dark side, but I’m looking forward to your series about it!

    Thanks for sharing and linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.

    Wishing you a lovely evening!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer!

      I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a kind word! And, you can make it through the dark side and come out still in one piece on the other side! I’m really excited about this series.

      And, I’m enjoying being in CBB with you. Congratulations on your book doing so well!

      Look forward to connecting more in the future.

  4. With 11 children ages 5-31, I’m in most of these stages (haha) and find your descriptions to be very accurate. I was expecting more of “Dark Side” with my girls but was surprised when our oldest son (who was #7 in birth order) hit this stage. My adult children are truly some of the best people I know and I’m privileged to call them my best friends for life.

    1. Hey Cheryl,

      You are blessed!

      To have 11 children and only have one of them really go into the Dark Side is amazing! What a great testimony to you and your husband. Maybe you need to write a book, girl!

      I appreciate you stopping by to leave a good word today. Thank for your visit and your encouragement!

      Hope you will have a blessed day,

  5. Although we are far from the “dark side” with any of our children, this certainly looks like a nice series in keeping/holding our children’s hearts through all of the growing up! 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment today! I appreciate you and your visit.

      And, it’s never too early to start winning those little hearts! The things you are doing today will have a great impact on your kids in a few years.

      Grateful for your encouragement today~

    1. Hey Kelsie,

      Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment today! I appreciate you and your visit.

      It’s great to link up with you on Twinkly Tuesday.

      Hope you have a blessed day today~

  6. Oh Melanie, I am in the dark side with my eleven year old daughter. We have always been close, but since about 6 months ago, something changed. Our relationship has been strained since then. I look forward to any tips you have on dealing with this time. Thank you for this! I thoroughly enjoyed your post.

    1. Oh, Jennifer~

      You can do this! And, this is so normal – especially with girls!!

      I’ll be praying for you as you begin this part of the journey! (The best news – it is just a season. It will pass!)

      You have encouraged me with your words today!

    1. Hey Melissa,

      Thanks for stopping by today to leave a comment! It’s never too early to start winning those little hearts! Start now, and you will get through to the other side with joy!

      You have encouraged me today. I pray that God will bless you as you take care of those precious ones~

      Hope you have a blessed day~

    1. Hey Jennifer!

      I really am grateful for you as well! And, I’m writing this series with friends like you in mind – just hitting these exciting years with your kids!

      By the way, you are doing a great job – as a wife, mom, pastor’s wife, blogger, etc…
      Proud of you,

  7. So much goodness here. We don’t have kids yet, but I’ve seen this in the ministry work I’ve done with teenage girls. For so many of them, their hearts were hurt by and hardened to their parents, often for very legitimate, heartbreaking reasons. I wish all parents could read this challenge to do their best to love their kids and run after their hearts, even when they enter those hard, “dark” years. Can’t wait to read the rest of these posts!

    1. Hey (again) Lauren,

      I appreciate your encouragement, and I’m praying that many parents will read this post and the rest of the series! I don’t every think any child is too far gone when a parent is willing to pursue their heart!

      And, thanks for working with teenage girls. I’ll bet they LOVE you!

  8. Uh-oh, we are about to reach the dark side with our first one then! I love this advice – and there’s always hope to do better with this 🙂

    1. No freaking out allowed!

      I’ve got 8 more posts about the Dark Side! You can DO this!! It is very possible!

      Even knowing about it is half of the battle!

      Get ready, you are going to do great~

    1. Hey Chrissa,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a kind word today. I appreciate you and your visit!

      And, as a new mom and a MOPS leader, you can encourage your baby and so many other young moms! You go girl! (By the way, this is the start of a series I’m doing. I’ll try to stop by your site and leave you the link on Friday. I’d love for you to use any of this that you can!)

      You have blessed me today~

  9. Oh, no! I can’t imagine the Dark Side. My kids are still in the little and cute phase. I guess that means it’s time for Mommy to continue winning their hearts… building that bond while I still can! Thanks for the encouragement and great advice!

    1. I know it’s hard to imagine, but even the cutest little guys go through an independence stage!

      My article isn’t to scare you but to encourage you to do that very thing – win their hearts and build the bond while they are small.

      And, just for what it’s worth – we all sat down for dinner last night (my husband, myself, and our 2 college kids) and we laughed and laughed.

      You can win their hearts & keep them for life!!

      Hope you have a blessed day,

  10. Such sweet advise! I think our two year old oscillates between begging us to stay and telling us to go (she is so independent). I kind of think how kids act as two year olds is a precursor of how they will be in their teens. We shall see… only time will tell!

    1. Thanks, Stasia!

      I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a good word!

      And, yes ages 2 and 13 do have a lot in common. When I taught middle school, I used to tell parents – “They are just big preschoolers right now.”

      But, you are up for the challenge. Just keep loving that baby, praying for her, and dealing with her in grace. What you are doing now is setting the stage for future years!

      Hope you have a blessed day~

  11. What a sweet post! I think every parent should read this! It’s so true and I try very hard to do these things so that my girls will still want to share their hearts and feelings from the teenage years on. Visiting from Mama Moments

    1. Hey Lisa,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment today. I appreciate you and your visit.

      And, if yo start winning those little hearts now, you will keep holding onto them for the rest of their lives!! It is possible!

      Hope you have a blessed day today~

  12. Ooohhhh, this makes me a little sad to think about but so thankful you’re willing to enlighten all of us who aren’t as far along in the dark years:) My boys are 6 and 4 and I have a lot of learning to do! Keep their hearts, I’ll start there:)

    1. Hey Meg,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a good word today. I appreciate you and your visit.

      And, don’t be too worried about the Dark Side. Just be faithful today and keep loving those boys! (And, for what it’s worth, I think daughters are much more moody over on the Dark Side than sons!)

      Hope you have a blessed day~

  13. We have a Family First Sunday School at our church and winning the children’s hearts is the theme. Your post goes right along with that. I’m afraid of them acting like we have their hearts when we actually don’t. If that’s possible, maybe its an irrational fear of mine since my kids are still very young! Looking forward to more!

    1. Hey Ana,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a kind word. I really appreciate you and your visit!

      And, I encourage you to just keep investing in those precious little ones. They have an incredible ability to extend grace.

      I’m sure you are a wonderful mom!

      Hope you have a blessed day~

  14. How tragic for parents to fight and win a battle, but lose the war…keep your kids’ hearts and point them toward Jesus! Thanks for the practical and hope-filled post!

  15. I so appreciate this post. Yes- as parents, our goal is to model God’s desire to have the hearts of our kids. What a practical and inspiring message! I have four kids and I look forward to reading your 8 strategies. Blessings to you and your family!

    1. Hey Karen,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a kind word today. I really appreciate you and your visit! I’ve dropped by your site before and really enjoyed reading many of your posts!

      And, I pray that you will win and keep the hearts of all four of your kids! It’s worth all of the effort!

      Your words have blessed me today!
      I hope you will have a wonderful weekend~

  16. Love this…and so true! Our girls are t(w)eens now, and we are joyfully seeing some beautiful fruit from the truth we tried to write on their hearts and minds when they were younger. And yet, the journey continues with new twists and turns along the path. Stopping by from Grace & Truth!

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth, for stopping by to leave a kind word today!

      I really appreciate you and your visit. And, I love hearing stories about kids and their parents staying connected. Sounds like you and and your husband are on the right track and making great strides. I encourage you to keep winning their hearts and building those bridges.

      You have encouraged me today with your words~
      I hope you will have a blessed weekend,

  17. Melanie,
    So happy to have come. This is my 1st time visiting you and I look forward to the series. I have 5 children 11,9,7,5 and soon to be 3. I’ve had raised my sister during the teenage years so I’ve seen some of the dark side as they’ve moved through the stages. I think that one thing that has helped me keep their hearts is being relatable esp with my tween. Even though she is 11, she is a year ahead in school so she faces pressures that older tweens face and being able to listen and coach her through these challenges keep us joined at the heart. Also creating space and making time for each child has helped me in keeping their hearts. Where I struggle is resolving sibling conflict. The bickering is a lot for me to bear. Even though I have a sibling we are 11 years apart so that was more a parental relationship than sibling. Any wisdom on sibling conflict would be greatly appreciated. Happy to visiting from #DanceWithJesus linkup.

    1. Hey Tyra,

      Thanks for stopping by to leave a kind word today. I really appreciate you and your visit!

      And, it sounds like you are a busy woman! And, since you have raised your sister, you ought to fly through these years! You’ve got experience!

      I will pray with you about the sibling conflict. That is so hard. I have seen my kids grow closer to each other as they’ve gotten older. Time has helped a lot. I would encourage you to check out this blogger – She has just written some really great posts about siblings. Here is a link to one:

      Praying for God to encourage you and to give you incredible wisdom and grace with your kids!

  18. OH, I can.NOT.wait for this series of posts!

    The dark side… I think you could rock a Star Wars theme for this. We need to hook you up with music that plays 🙂

    All of this. So true.

    One of the first posts I wrote that started gathering attention outside of my own little world was on this exact subject. Parents are CRAVING HOPE for this stage and YOU, dear friend… are the perfect one to give it to them.

    Count me in to help spread the word that hope is over here for parents who just found themselves at ZERO when yesterday they were HERO!


    1. Thank you, Christi!

      I have a couple of young friends here that have been asking me for some ideas. Seemed like the perfect time to use this series! I’ll bet yours was really good too. I’ll have to search your archives!!

      And, HOPE is in short supply, isn’t it!

      Thankful that God gives us friends who have walked down the road a little further!

      You have encouraged my heart with your words~

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