The Six-Word Memoir Blog

Quick-Six Challenge: Advice for Moms & Dads

Friday, September 7th, 2012

By Larry Smith

I’m the father of an 19-month-old boy (we’ve pictured here in my very early daddyhood days and I’m wearing my “So much crying; the baby, too” T-shirt) and have have experienced an enormous parenting learning curve, both from my own daily life and in talking to other parents. I’m inspired to share this knowledge and hungry to take in tips from others. Still, there’s little time to do so in today’s busy lives. What to do? I’ve begun doing what I already do best: seeking and sharing advice in six-word bites.

So here’s the challenge for rookie and experienced moms and dads: share your best six-word advice on being a parent—something you’ve learned yourself or from others.

The more specific and surprising the advice the better. Skip the general platitudes (you know, all that “Love them more than you know” and “They really grow up so fast” stuff) and dig into the weird and in its own way useful lessons you’ve learned along the way. My friend Zoe Allen advises, “Treat infants like terrorists: no negotiating,” while the so-cool mom blogger Rebecca Woolf) suggest, “Not breastfeeding? May as well lie.” The New Yorker’s Ben Greenman says: “Buy goldfish, which die, as lessons.”

Share your Six Words of Mom or Dad advice in the comments here, or over on our Facebook page. Who knows? Your advice could end up being put to excellent use by confused (and exhausted) parents across the world.

197 responses

  1. Believe says:

    Baby steps are for parents, too.

  2. Contemplative says:

    Cushion the blows. Wipe the nose.

  3. Patrick Sauer says:

    Terrible twos assuaged by benevolent bourbons.

  4. Level1 says:

    Advice for parents with older children:

    Let them go to let them be.

  5. maryjane31 says:

    Your child deserves good old-fashioned respect.

  6. maryjane31 says:

    Children like radar in sensing emotions.

  7. maryjane31 says:

    Parents; enjoy learning to play again.

  8. Elke Blinick says:

    It get’s easier after the 2nd.

  9. Ronnie says:

    Grasping the toy means releasing the couch.

  10. canadafreeze says:

    May as well play. No returns.

  11. zsuzsa says:

    Parenting: days are long, years short.

  12. PatriciaD says:

    eat,sleep,poop, not just baby!

  13. favepeep says:

    Remember: children are sponges, not sieves.

  14. Catherine says:

    Laugh, play, and read every day.

  15. Kelly says:

    They’ll remember the love, not possessions.

  16. scriBBlingscriBe (teRi) says:

    Walk your talk. Play. Pray. Stay.

  17. Vicki Erwin says:

    They grow up fast so enjoy.

  18. scriBBlingscriBe (teRi) says:

    Abounding love will conquer inevitable mistakes.

  19. Bburri says:

    Teach them not to need you.

  20. Shutt2u says:

    Days are long. Years are short.

  21. John Roedel says:

    Don’t ever make parenting about you.

  22. favepeep says:

    Divert! Distract! Most underutilized parenting techniques.

  23. teRi says:

    Young offspring make great ‘go fors’!

  24. HopeInPain says:

    Yes, Mom and Dad, advice, please?

  25. You’ll Make It says:

    Breastfeeding’s worth it. Get good support.

  26. jermball30 says:

    Build character. Sometimes, let them fail.

  27. favepeep says:

    At their worst, love them best.

  28. kerstin says:

    When feeling burdened,
    find the Funny.

  29. kerstin says:

    Forgive yourself for
    mistakes; Baby will.

  30. zsuzsa says:

    Catch falls, catch hugs, catch naps.

  31. Robin Slick says:

    They grow up but you don’t.

  32. DynamicDbytheC says:

    “Don’t have children.” Felt like burden.

  33. Tahji says:

    Remind them you are always there.

  34. zsuzsa says:

    Had three kids: kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk:

    1st–amateur, 2nd–professional, 3rd–automatic.

  35. Patti H says:

    Worries never stop. Spending never stops.

  36. gone says:

    Relax, enjoy. Perfect parenting’s impossible.

  37. gone says:

    I meant:

    Relax, get sleep. Perfect parenting’s impossible:)

  38. maryjane31 says:

    Say good-by to luxury of sleep.

  39. maryjane31 says:

    First fever. He survived. I didn’t.

  40. maryjane31 says:

    Kindergarten. Free tissues provided for parents.

  41. rhinelander says:

    It’s ok if they get tattoos.

  42. maryjane31 says:

    Want peaceful dinner? Afternoon nap essential.

  43. Emily s says:

    Ego does not help at all.

  44. favepeep says:

    Assume they’re eavesdropping, just in case.

  45. canadafreeze says:

    It’s just hair, and it grows.

  46. Undermom says:

    Don’t waste No’s on trivial stuff.

  47. Undermom says:

    Remember, it’s their body, not yours.

  48. Undermom says:

    Be kind. Remember your own childhood.

  49. Undermom says:

    If you’re stressed, so is child.

  50. favepeep says:

    Hold hands until they let go.

  51. maryjane31 says:

    Buy toys. But buy YOUR favorites!

  52. BA_Miracle says:

    Use information for choices not judgments.

  53. bevvie says:

    Play games and let them win.

  54. julie says:

    Imagine the future and love them

  55. julie says:

    Try to memorize their beauty carefully

  56. julie says:

    breathe breathe breathe breathe breathe breathe

  57. julie says:

    don’t even try to be perfect

  58. ChristinaK says:

    Don’t listen to other parents’ advice.

  59. Candace Hill says:

    Cheese and crackers is a meal.

  60. favepeep says:

    Sing silly songs, teach nursery rhymes.

  61. Amanda A. says:

    Pee on remotes, never suffer Caillou.

  62. Kelli says:

    Hard work but worth every sacrifice.

  63. marymc says:

    You’ll hate them. Always love them.

  64. favepeep says:

    Public humiliation is a big no-no.

  65. Tracey says:

    Get babysitter, sanity requires time away.

  66. Tracey says:

    Teen slam doors? Take off hinges.

  67. Mrs W says:

    Mothers of boys buy disposable gloves.

  68. treehugger says:

    Someday you’ll cherish these sleepless nights.

  69. treehugger says:

    Always have camera within arm’s reach.

  70. Contemplative says:

    Grandparent’s number on speeddial. Takeout’s too.

  71. Contemplative says:

    Screaming matches: Forfeit before you lose.

  72. Contemplative says:

    Screaming matches: Forfeit before lose voice.

  73. treehugger says:

    Censor yourself. Swearing’s less cute eventually.

  74. bevvie says:

    Learn from children. They’re often right!

  75. bevvie says:

    Please don’t buy your children clowns.

  76. maryjane31 says:

    Buy several pacifiers. Ignore “Child Experts.”

  77. JAD says:

    Laugh with them and laugh loud.

  78. favepeep says:

    Teach empathy. Model empathy. Be empathetic.

  79. JAD says:

    Pray that the boys will clean.

  80. favepeep says:

    Penelope Leach: parenting sage and scholar.

  81. maryjane31 says:

    Car seats. Difficult to figure out.

  82. Journaler says:

    Kids all grown are still kids.

  83. Seraphina_Lullaby says:

    “Don’t have kids.” Gee, thanks Mom.

  84. wayword_angel says:

    Black sheep make great pet projects.

  85. Bullitt says:

    Girls should mow. Boys should sew.

  86. Bullitt says:

    Love the naughty queer ones most.

  87. favepeep says:

    Son preferred yes/no answer to maybe.

  88. favepeep says:

    Get down to their level. Literally.

  89. favepeep says:

    Chronicle quirky comments and comical observations.

  90. Redx3 says:

    Follow through on promises and punishments.

  91. Redx3 says:

    Make the rule: try it once.

  92. Redx3 says:

    There are never too many Legos.

  93. Redx3 says:

    Your floor will never be cleaner.

  94. LLW says:

    Never say “Hate you”. Stings forever

  95. LLW says:

    They are children; not miniature adults

  96. treehugger says:

    You teach them. They teach you.

  97. treehugger says:

    There’s already a you. Encourage individuality.

  98. treehugger says:

    Teach how to think, not what.

  99. treehugger says:

    Carrot purée stains everything it touches.

  100. treehugger says:

    First born is really just practice.

  101. JAD says:

    Love your kids more than pets.

  102. maryjane31 says:

    Remember kids put everything in mouth.

  103. bevvie says:

    Never put kids on reality shows!

  104. maryjane31 says:

    Parenthood; not what you were expecting.

  105. favepeep says:

    Children never walk a straight line.

  106. favepeep says:

    Don’t be too big to apologize.

  107. Shaunyata says:

    Don’t overindulge, except love and hugs.

  108. jermball30 says:

    Your gut usually trumps magazine experts.

  109. favepeep says:

    Wake sleeping baby. Pay the price.

  110. favepeep says:

    Don’t leave 2-yr-old alone with kitten.

  111. lavidasuburbia says:

    They can walk? They can work. (Vicki Hoefle)

  112. treehugger says:

    Cut their nails while they’re sleeping.

  113. JAD says:

    They will criticise what you wear.

  114. The Prosperous Artist says:

    Teach them to feel their feelings.

  115. The Prosperous Artist says:

    Life teaches better than you. Relax.

  116. treehugger says:

    Fasten Velcro on bibs before washing.

  117. sharon says:

    don’t do it! oops, too late!

  118. canadafreeze says:

    Stroke forehead gently. Works both ways.

  119. TeaTopper says:

    If you’re wicked, skip step parenting.

  120. dellavina says:

    cranky baby = hungry, poop, tired, attention

  121. JAD says:

    Younger children, home alone, no no!

  122. favepeep says:

    Face in mirror while yelling. Telling.

  123. ctgoods2 says:

    It’s only hair. Let it be.

  124. ctgoods2 says:

    Swallow your ego before they do.

  125. maryjane31 says:

    Sing to them. Calms them unfailingly.

  126. The Prosperous Artist says:

    Their taste will differ from yours.

  127. jojomcchesney says:

    Visit with them while they sleep.

  128. edunne says:

    Calm always wins, anger rarely does.

  129. JAD says:

    You’ll never be free of them.

  130. missbrandylee says:

    Face your fears, then dismiss them.

  131. elobe5 says:

    Momma always says “don’t sign anything.”

  132. Dean6805 says:

    Snot won’t kill you. Poop might.

  133. Dean6805 says:

    Embarrass them in public whenever possible.

  134. maryjane31 says:

    A rocking chair calms you both.

  135. rabbithole says:

    Rattles work for rattled adults too.

  136. jeanne says:

    Don’t despair, Cheerios is a side.

  137. Skybluewaters says:

    Read your baby… not the book…

  138. JAD says:

    Don’t ask stork for too many.

  139. Kali says:

    Take lots of photos, time flies!

  140. Reg says:

    Step back and let kids fail.

  141. Kali says:

    Smother them with culture, music, travel.

  142. Kali says:

    Only have as many as affordable.

  143. zsuzsa says:

    Take time for a family hug.

  144. Pseudonym_Girl says:

    Warm the Wipes. Cold isn’t cool.

  145. Julie H says:

    Ignored family advice - enjoyed messy child.

  146. Steelponypoet says:

    My dad said, “should have raised pigs, not kids, you can always eat pigs”.

  147. kriscard says:

    your job: love, support, guide them.

  148. kriscard says:

    the best you can do: love them.

  149. maryjane31 says:

    I let my boys get dirty.

  150. MichaelSolomon says:

    All great actors began with tantrums.

  151. Whelp says:

    Differentiate your child’s life from yours.

  152. lisatry says:

    They won’t appreciate you until later.

  153. lisatry says:

    Advice from teens’ peers counts more.

  154. Andrea says:

    Singing and dancing over poop. REALLY!

  155. Andrea says:

    PARENTING: Best excuse to play again.

  156. Andrea says:

    Let babies cry sometimes. They’ll survive!

  157. Andrea says:

    Remember, children learn what they live.

  158. favepeep says:

    Children: small people with big feelings.

  159. favepeep says:

    Be in charge but don’t bully.

  160. Helen Davis says:

    cranberry juice, cream carpet, big mess.

  161. JAD says:

    They know you better than you.

  162. JAD says:

    You’re young, but they think old.

  163. Clairee says:

    Twins; mistakes on first AND second…..

  164. Clairee says:

    Threats, bribes - depends on my mood

  165. Clairee says:

    Read Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment

  166. Clairee says:

    It’s not your hearing; teenagers mumble

  167. Clairee says:

    Exchange them for an older model?

  168. Clairee says:

    Kids are always interrupting, @#%$!, not….

  169. MissTChristine says:

    Mom/Dad advice? Don’t. Have. Kids.

  170. Vicky says:

    Because I said so, that’s why.

  171. ECSxGreed says:

    Know your enemy, divide and conquer!

  172. sisterpoet says:

    Age 16, he still needs hugs

  173. JAD says:

    These days taking naps is abusive.

  174. L2l3 says:

    Reduce guilt. Add carrots to ramen.

  175. L2l3 says:

    Reduce trauma’s terror. Buy red washcloths.

  176. JAD says:

    Watch wee wee for pee pee.

  177. Practical says:

    If pacifiers calm baby, use them!

  178. Practical says:

    Buy immersion blender to disguise veggies.

  179. Practical says:

    Let them choose their own clothes.
    Everything else is decided by you.
    Besides, they get to express personality.

  180. Practical says:

    Recognize the signs. Preempt the tantrum.

  181. favepeep says:

    Lovey: stress soother and security giver.

  182. favepeep says:

    Movies overwhelm young children. Stay home.

  183. lukkiecharm says:

    Yes, even your children lie sometimes.

  184. lukkiecharm says:

    They will copy everything you do.

  185. lukkiecharm says:

    You cannot change who they become.

  186. lukkiecharm says:

    If you’re pregnant, you’re already Mom.

  187. lukkiecharm says:

    Create your memories to be ageless.

  188. lukkiecharm says:

    Chopped spinach looks exactly like parsley.

  189. Muttilili says:

    Before you know it, they’re grown.

  190. Erica Conway says:

    Remember they are little human beings.

  191. favepeep says:

    Don’t make unreasonable or ridiculous threats.

  192. favepeep says:

    Don’t set them up to fail.

  193. favepeep says:

    Only children are awesome. Ask mine.

  194. favepeep says:

    Fact: you can’t spoil a baby

  195. Katevm says:

    Get on the floor and play.

  196. Sdselamat says:

    For quick recharge, inhale baby smell.

  197. Jazzmom says:

    Warning: sniff test reveals unbrushed teeth.

Leave a Reply

The name you want displayed with your comment.

Emails are not published with comments (i.e., everyone won't see it).

Your Website. This is optional.

SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.