Parenting Confession: I Haven’t Done This Before


Our book club celebrated our 15th anniversary this winter. We started in our mid-20s, when we chatted past midnight on a Thursday and regaled each other with stories from nights around town.

We’ve since celebrated new love, weddings, babies, travels and promotions. As we enter our 40s, we try to stay awake past 10 p.m. on a Friday and spend our time swapping stories about midlife.

After all these years, one of the best parts of book club is connecting with women about the realities of parenting.


We have moms entering the tween parenting stage. Moms on the rollercoaster of toddlerdom. A mom raising twin baby girls. Aunts loving their nieces and nephews like their own. Moms with kids rising through elementary school.

At our last book club, a friend in the parenting stage ahead of me shared a recent conversation she had with her son. While admitting to him that she didn’t have an answer for his latest conundrum, she confessed:

“I haven’t parented an 11-year-old before.”

These words hung in the air as the conversation continued around me. There are countless moments I berate myself for not having the answer to the parenting challenge of the day (hour? minute?). The questions they ask. The meltdowns they have. The fears they bottle up.

As soon as I’m feeling semi-comfortable in a season, it’s time for a new one. The next grade. Sport registrations. Swim lessons. Music lessons. New friends. Hurt feelings. Sibling rivalry. “Lessons” from bus seat mates. Summer camps. Academic benchmarks.

What is age appropriate?
Should I have done this sooner?
Why don’t I know this?

I’ve read the parenting books, blogs and Instagram posts. I’ve listened to counselors, parents, teachers and podcasts.

I want the “expert” parenting action to yield the expected kid reaction. I want the “expert” words I borrow to make sense to my kids’ minds and fill up their little hearts.

But for all this good advice, there is no script and no precise timeline for when, where and how. There are guidelines, but so often, we have to learn by doing. Through wins and mistakes, big and small. By seeking wisdom from other parents and resources, while also trusting our instincts and what’s best for our family.

So, I pause and remember what my friend said to her son.

We haven’t done this [fill-in-the-blank] season of parenting before.

There is grace to be found in this mindset of learning. We can stop berating ourselves for not having it figured out. We can relate to our kids and they can relate to us when we level with them and admit we’re figuring this out together. Of course, they need to see confidence and stability in us, but also humanity.

As my pastor said recently in a sermon, “Life isn’t always neat and tidy.” Oh, how I wish it were. But instead of pretending it is or striving for it to be perched so perfectly in balance, maybe we can find relief in knowing it’s not.

We’re doing the best we know how to raise our children. We’re instilling in them that it’s ok to make mistakes while we learn.

We can sit with our fellow moms, aunts and grandmothers and confidently admit that we, too, just haven’t learned that – yet.


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