Also see Parenting Humor, Family ABC Lists, and the Family Section.

Page Toppers


Keep Your Children Safe

(Bil Keane)

Better alarmed than harmed,
Better fearful than tearful,
Better warned than mourned!

Rules for Raising Delinquent Children

(The Houston Police Department)

Love is:

Love is scaring away monsters at 1:00 a.m., then again at 2:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m . . .
Love is putting peanut butter on anything as long as they'll eat it!
Love is knowing how to disguise vegetables thirty different ways.
Love is reading the same bedtime story for the 999th time.
Love is a hug around the knees.
Love is watching Mr. Rogers instead of All My Children.
Love is cutting off the crusts.
Love is a refrigerator covered with creative works of art.
Love is standing in line for two hours for Raffi tickets.
Love is not grimacing through the dirtiest of diapers.
Love is trading in the Camero for a station wagon.
Love is the magic kiss that heals all "owies."
Love is a cuddly kid in a blanket sleeper.
Love is the first kick, first smile, first laugh, first step, first anything.
Love is your child pointing to a picture of Christie Brinkley and saying "mama."
Love is your child sound asleep, any child sound asleep.
Love is a macaroni necklace.
Love is wearing the macaroni necklace to church with pride.
Love is a peanut butter kiss, a syrup kiss, a chocolate kiss, any kind of kiss.
Love is when Bert and Ernie replace Redford and Selleck as your most admired men.
Love is not worrying about those few extra pounds cuz they make you more cuddly.
Love is knowing how to get out amoxicillin stains.
Love is a bouquet of dandelions.
Love is the smell of a baby's neck.
Love is saying "no" at the right times when it's easier to say "yes."
Love is saying "yes" at the right times when it's easier to say "no."
Oops, I hear someone calling. I'm off to chase monsters out from under the crib!
By the way, love is what makes it all worthwhile!

Poem on Raising Children

(Diane Lootmans)

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd see the oak tree in the acorn more often.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I'd model less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.

Our Children

(Theresa Perkins)

Have you ever felt a little hand
Grip around your finger?
Or kissed a cheek where the remains
Of a chocolate bar still linger?
Have you ever kissed a boo-boo
To make the pain "go-way"?
Or forgot about the dishes
Just to go out and play?
We are the lucky ones
To cherish these so dear,
So enjoy these little miracles,
That God's placed in our care.

†A quote by Dr. James Dobson

There is no higher calling in life than the task of bearing and raising the children
whom God has trusted to our care. We are given a few brief years to love and guide them and instill the values in which we believe.
Then suddenly, the children are grown and have families of their own.
What endures for mothers and fathers after that moment of release is a precious museum of memories to be enjoyed for the rest of their lives.


I see children as kites.
You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground.
You run with them until you're both breathless . . .
they crash . . . you add a longer tail . . .
they hit the roof tops . . .
you pluck them out of the drain spout . . .
you patch and comfort, adjust and teach.
You watch them lifted by the wind,
and assure them that someday they'll fly.

Finally they are airborne, but they need more string
and you keep letting it out
and with each twist of the ball of twine
there is a sadness that goes with the joy
because the kite becomes more distant,
and somehow you know that it won't be long
before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline
that bound you together and soar . . . free and alone.
Only then do you know that you did you job!

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another one.
When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat,
and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and I believed there is a God I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I felt you kiss me good night,
and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes,
and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw that you cared
and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I looked . . .
and wanted to say thanks for all the things I saw
when you thought I wasn't looking.

I Wish I Could

(Collin Raye from The Walls Came Down)

Looking out my window
See you playing in the leaves.
It's amazing how a little girl
Means all the world to me.
When I tell you that I love you
I love you more than words can say.

Smile, say cheese pretty--please
I wanna take your picture.
How'd you ever get so big?
I gotta take your picture
Hold on to the memory before
the whole thing slips away.

I wish I could save these moments
And put 'em in a jar.
I wish I could stop the world from turning
Keep things just the way they are.
I wish I could shelter you from everything
Not pure and sweet and good.
I know I can't, I know I can't
But I wish I could.

When you kiss me for no reason
It goes straight to my heart.
When I feel your arms around me
I almost fall apart.
It's time for bed you whisper
Daddy, we forgot to pray.
(repeat chorus)

And when I watch you sleeping
All my worries fade away.
A little bit of heaven glows on your angelic face.
(repeat chorus)

Riding a Bicycle

(Burton Hillis)

Tousle-haired Jimmy Hillyard, the six-year-old from down the block, is learning to ride his first bicycle. From our front-porch vantage point, Chris and I held our breath as we watched Jimmy's first shaky attempts at riding without training wheels.
Jimmy's dad would help steady the bike, give a gentle shove, and off the boy would lurch.
Of course, the bike traveled only a few wobbly feet on the first tries, propelled more by momentum from the takeoff than by Jimmy's struggles at pedaling and steering.
After each abortive attempt--with Jimmy sprawled on the curbing and the bike all askew--the lad would pick himself up, and with his father's steady encouragement, try again.
I think I counted a dozen spills, but there were no tears and no giving up until--at last--Jimmy made it from one end of the block to the other.
The look on the faces of Jimmy and his dad were priceless. Chris and I would have applauded from our grandstand seats, but I'm sure father and son needed no applause at that point.
It seems to me that bicycle-riding episode capsulizes the whole undertaking of raising a child. You hold and give support as long as you think it's necessary, then grit your teeth and give a shove. After the inevitable false starts and bruises, your offspring it--with luck--ready to travel alone.

Parents Catch Terminal Dumbness

(Erma Bombeck)

There isn't a parent alive who hasn't been struck down in their prime by a condition called "Terminal Dumb." It's usually diagnosed by their teenagers, who kindly refer to it as "premature senility."
For some of us, it was a cruel blow. One day my mother was a bright, intelligent, worthwhile human being with something to contribute to society. That woman could do anything and I believed her. She could make the traffic light turn green by blowing it, cure my scraped knee by kissing it, and knew every answer to every question you could imagine.
Then one morning she woke up and she didn't know anything.
There wasn't an ounce of logic to anything she said. ("Wear boots. It's raining.) She became repetitious. ("Close the door.")
She couldn't remember things anymore. One day when she didn't remember that my sister got to lick the pan on her 14th birthday and got a watch and I only got a boughten cake and a dresser set, I lost all respect for her. I was amazed she could feed herself.
Luckily, after I married, my mother pulled out of it. It was like a miracle. She got hold of herself and was once again able to carry on a conversation without being corrected, make a move without criticism and really began to understand and appreciate me.
I hadn't thought much about the disease until the other night at dinner when I said: "Do you know what I'm thinking of?"
"Don't end a sentence with a preposition, mother, and sit up straight. You're slouching. Your spine will grow that way."
"You are always criticizing me," I said. "You're making me psychotic."
"You misuse that word all the time," said my son. "Why don't you look it up?"
"I wish all of you would get off my case and stop prosecuting me."
"It's persecuting, p-e-r-s-e-c-u-t . . . "
I have a feeling that my mind has slipped out of my prime-time spot temporarily. I don't know how long before my miraculous recovery takes place, but hopefully it will be soon . . . for their safety.


When do parents stop worrying about their children? No question has been asked more or answered less.

Is there a magic cutoff period when offspring become accountable for their actions? Is there a wonderful moment when parents can become detached spectators in the lives of their children and shrug, "It's their life," and feel nothing?

When I was in my 20s, I stood in a hospital corridor waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my son's head and I asked, "When do you stop worrying?" and a nurse with authority said, "When they get out of the accident prone stage." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my 30s, I sat on a little chair in a classroom and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted the class and was headed for a career making license plates. As if to read my mind, a teacher said, "Don't worry. They all go through this stage and then you can sit back and enjoy them." My mother listened and said nothing.

When I was in my 40s, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to ring, the cars to come home, the front door to open. A friend said, "They're trying to find themselves. In a few years you can stop worrying. They'll be adults."

By the time I was 50, I was sick and tired of being vulnerable. I still was worrying over my children, but there was a new wrinkle. There was nothing I could do about it. Yet I continued to anguish in their failures, be tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in their disappointments. My friends said when my kids got married I could stop worrying and lead my own life. I wanted to believe that, but I was haunted by my mother's wan smile and her occasional, "You look pale. Are you all right?" "Call me the minute you get home." "Are you depressed about something?"

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the unknown? Is concern a curse? Or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life?

One of my children became quite irritable recently when he said, "Where were you? I've been calling for three days and no one answered. I was worried."

I smiled a wan smile. The torch had been passed.

How to Train a Child

There's a proverb that is often misunderstood and misapplied . . . "Train up a child is the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Many people have assumed it to mean that we are supposed to try to somehow force our children to become what WE want them to be, like pressing them into a mold and popping out a product.
I am told that the true meaning of the phrase, from its original translation ("according to his bent", like the natural growth needs of a tree), is that we need to teach each child according to his/her natural abilities/inclinations/needs . . . we are to study the individual carefully to determine personal strengths, weaknesses, and needs, and to do all we can to provide them with the teaching and the loving encouragement that they need to thrive and to reach their highest potential. Train him according to the way that he (the individual) is designed to go! Too many of us are trying to make an apple tree out of an oak. We are trying to make the acorns into apples, with no success. (Beth)

Parenthood Changes Everything...

. . . but parenthood also changes with each baby. Here, some of the ways having a second and third child differs from having your first:

Your Clothes

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.

The Baby's Name

1st baby: You pore over baby-name books and practice pronouncing and writing combinations of all your favorites.
2nd baby: Someone has to name their kid after great-aunt Mavis, right? It might as well be you.
3rd baby: You open a name book, close your eyes, and see where your finger points.

Preparing for the Birth

1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.
2nd baby: You don't bother practicing because you remember that last time, breathing didn't do a thing.
3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your eighth month.

The Layette

1st baby: You pre-wash your newborn's clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby's little bureau.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can't they?


1st baby: At the first sign of distress--a whimper, a frown--you pick up the baby.
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.
3rd baby: You teach your 3-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.


1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.
2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.
3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.

Going Out

1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home five times.
2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached.
3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.

At Home

1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.
2nd baby: You spend a good bit of every day watching to be sure your older child isn't squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.
3rd baby: You spend a good bit of every day hiding from the children.

back to top of page