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Parents

  • Parents have a habit of underestimating their children.

  • Parenthood: that state of being better chaperoned than you were before marriage.

  • Three stages in a parent's life: nutrition, dentition, tuition.

  • Raising children is like baking bread: it has to be a slow process or you end up with an overdone crust and an underdone interior.

  • A child does not thrive on what he is prevented from doing, but on what he actually does.

  • To give children everything is often worse than giving them nothing.

  • The illusions of childhood are necessary experiences: a child should not be denied a balloon just because an adult knows that sooner or later it will burst.

  • The ultimate mistake in discipline is the ultimatum.

  • All the successful parents I have observed seem to possess one common quality: that of being able to visit with their children.

  • The mark of a good parent is that he can have fun while being one.

  • The difficulty between parents and adolescents is not always caused by the fact that parents fail to remember what growing up was like, but that they do.

  • Two important things to teach a child: to do and to do without.

  • To raise good human beings it is not only necessary to be a good mother and a good father, but to have had a good mother and father.

  • I don't pretend to any exemption from the general lot of parental delusion—I mean that like most other parents I see my child through an atmosphere which illuminates, magnifies, and at the same time refines the object to a degree that amounts to a delusion ...

  • Parents and children cannot be to each other, as husbands with wives and wives with husbands. Nature has separated them by an almost impassable barrier of time; the mind and the heart are in quite a different state at fifteen and forty.

  • Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children.

  • If from infancy you treat children as gods they are liable in adulthood to act as devils.

  • Don't tell a mixed company how clever your children are. Discuss your children only with friends who ask about them.

  • … the death of any loved parent is an incalculable lasting blow. Because no one ever loves you again like that.

  • Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won't feel like watching.

  • Never allow your child to call you by your first name. He hasn't known you long enough.

  • Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he's buying.

  • I will never understand children. I never pretended to. I meet mothers all the time who make resolutions to themselves. 'I'm going to ... go out of my way to show them I am interested in them and what they do. I am going to understand my children.' These women end up making rag rugs, using blunt scissors.

  • There was a time when the respect and trust my children had for me would have made you sick to your stomach. They believed I could blow on a red traffic light and turn it green.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in Erma Bombeck and Bil Keane, Just Wait Til You Have Children of Your Own ()
  • One of the things they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child's name and how old he or she is.

  • There are few things in this world more satisfying than having your son teach you how to play tennis, unless it is having a semi-truck run over your foot.

  • The real menace in dealing with a five-year-old is that in no time at all you begin to sound like a five-year-old.

  • I figure when my husband comes home at night, if those kids are still alive, hey, I've done my job.

    • Roseanne Barr,
    • in Geraldine Barr with Ted Schwarz, My Sister Roseanne ()
  • My kids were completely out of control, while I was working fifteen hours a day plus weekends. I screamed a lot, something I'm not particularly proud of, but it was that or firearms.

  • There is nothing more thrilling in this world, I think, than having a child that is yours, and yet is mysteriously a stranger.

  • If you have children, you never have anything!

  • [The remark] shocked poor Ellen into the realization that when children go wrong, everybody (except their parents) knows that it is their parents' fault.

  • The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant — and let the air out of the tires.

  • Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful if some manufacturer would make a toy as tough, as staunch, as hard to crack open as the carton it comes in!

  • It has been explained to me that toys are packaged in shards, to be assembled by the middle-aged and butter-fingered, because this makes it easier for the shippers. ... If they had to spend hours and hours putting handlebars onto bicycles ... they would repent their ways and deliver something that looked like a rocking horse and not like the result of a small street accident.

  • We spend the first twelve months of our children's lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.

  • She believed in letting children have a certain amount of rope, and only intervened at the last moment, in order to prevent their hanging themselves by it.

  • Anyone who has raised more than one child knows full well that kids turn out the way they turn out — astonishingly, for the most part, and usually quite unlike their siblings, even their twins, raised under the same flawed rooftree. Little we have done or said, or left undone and unsaid, seems to have made much mark. It's hubris to suppose ourselves so influential; a casual remark on the playground is as likely to change their lives as any dedicated campaign of ours. They come with much of their own software already in place, waiting, and none of the keys we press will override it.

  • Making the decision to have a child — it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

  • ... while everything else in our lives has gotten simpler, speedier, more microwavable and user-friendly, child-raising seems to have expanded to fill the time no longer available for it.

  • A child is a temporarily disabled and stunted version of a larger person, whom you will someday know. Your job is to help them overcome the disabilities associated with their size and in- experience so that they get on with being that larger person, and in a form that you might like to know.

  • One of the most essential and mundane of human activities — taking care of children — requires high levels of anxious vigilance. ... [Parents] dare not risk assuming that the sudden quiet from the toddlers' room means they are studying with Baby Einstein. Visualize fratricidal stranglings and electric outlets stabbed with forks: this is how we have reproduced our genomes.

  • ... adults look upon a child as something empty that is to be filled through their own efforts, as something inert and helpless for which they must do everything, as something lacking an inner guide and in constant need of inner direction. ... An adult who acts in this way, even though he may be convinced that he is filled with zeal, love, and a spirit of sacrifice on behalf of his child, unconsciously suppresses the development of the child's own personality.

  • So, a baby had been born to them at last. Not circumstantially of their bodies, but desirously of their hearts. They had both borne this child, as Tom had facetiously said; they had looked for it and waited, looking and looking until at last they found their own.

  • Ask not what you can do for your children. Ask what your children can do for you.

  • The character and history of each child may be a new and poetic experience to the parent, if he will let it.

  • What a difference it makes to come home to a child!

    • Margaret Fuller,
    • letter (1849), in Alice Rossi, ed., The Feminist Papers ()
  • Her child was like a load that held her down, and yet like a hand that pulled her to her feet.

  • ... my children's faces are private candles i sometimes worship at ...

    • Deborah Keenan,
    • "Good Dreams or Milk," The Only Window That Counts ()
  • I suppose a child's first obligation is to become a stranger to his parents.

  • Once they all stop drinking your blood, and start functioning on their own systems, they become galaxies, spinning away from you, covering greater distances with every passing year.

  • At eighteen months old, no child is a civilized companion. Maurice was messy. ... He needed constant attention, entertainment and supervision, and neither his looks, his manners, nor his monosyllabic conversation really compensated his mother for her sacrifice of those activities to which she had been accustomed and which she heartily enjoyed.

  • There are only two kinds of parents. Those who think their offspring can do nothing wrong, and those who think they can do nothing right.

  • ... we are never done with thinking about our parents, I suppose, and come to know them better long after they are dead than we ever did when they were alive.

  • Parents are untamed, excessive, potentially troublesome creatures; charming to be with for a time, in the main they must lead their own lives, independent and self-employed, with companions of their own age and selection ...

  • They shared decisions and the making of all policy, both in their business and in the family. Whenever anything had to be decided about any one of the three of us children, even about new coats, they would go into the bedroom and put their heads together for a little while. Buzz buzz would come through the closed door, sometimes in english, sometimes in patois, that Grenadian poly-language which was their lingua franca. Then the two of them would emerge and announce whatever decision had been arrived upon. They spoke all through my childhood with one unfragmentable and unappealable voice.

  • A baby is a full-time job for three adults. Nobody tells you that when you're pregnant or you'd probably jump off a bridge.

  • Isn't it our job to be appalled by our parents? Isn't it every generation's duty to be dismayed by the previous generation? And to assert that we are different — only to discover later that we are distressingly the same?

  • It's clear that most American children suffer too much mother and too little father.

  • ... many of us have raised our daughters more like our sons, but too few have raised our sons more like our daughters.

  • If men started taking care of children, the job will become more valuable.

  • What would happen if we listened to children as much as we talked to them?

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • "A Balance Between Nature and Nurture," in Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, eds., This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women ()
  • The finest inheritance you can give to a child is to allow it to make its own way, completely on its own feet.

  • We don't choose our parents, but once we've become adults we have the choice of how we are going to react to them.

  • Anger toward a mother or a father, no matter how excusable, ultimately becomes an expression of self-loathing.

  • They were always reading the law to her at home, which might not have been so bad if her father and mother had read from the same book.

  • We love those we feed, not vice versa; in caring for others we nourish our own self esteem. Children are dependent upon adults. It's a craven role for a child. It's very natural to want to bite the hand that feeds you.

  • With our parents we bury our past, with our children our future.

  • ... sometimes the very faults of parents produce a tendency to opposite virtues in their children.

  • [He] resumed contemplation of his toes. These, to his never-failing and delighted surprise, continued to be ten in number, no matter how suddenly and without warning he descended upon them; his startled cataloguing of the suspicious members constituted at present his chief employment, and the subsequent deep breath of relief on finding that all was well and not one of them had escaped his vigilance was one of the joys of his parents.

  • Was it possible that not so many months ago they had waited for his words as for pearls and rubies? Was this the child whose uncanny silence had stricken them with shame in the presence of other young parents? His voice was high and clear; no door could shut out its intonations. He chanted with a steadily rising inflection the saga of his past day interwoven with irrelevant excerpts from the pig-telephone story and one other, his longest, which dealt mysteriously with a cup and saucer, a lady and a pianola ...

  • Mama seemed to do only what my father wanted, and yet we lived the way my mother wanted us to live.

  • ... you may take it from me, that however hard you try — or don't try; whatever you do — or don't do; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; every way and every day: the parent is always wrong. So it is no good bothering about it. When the little pests grow up they will certainly tell you exactly what you did wrong in their case. But never mind; they will be just as wrong themselves in their turn.

  • He had not known, until his child had been born, that a love as complete and exquisite and perfect as that which he felt for her could exist upon this earth.

  • Sensible fathers and mothers, when their children marry, go back to the old days and renew their youth.

  • ... children need truly evolved people — not other, larger children — as parents. Therefore, don't have a child until you've forged your own identity, can support yourself, and have already begun the work of creating or maintaining an extended family.

  • What if her father and mother could not recognize her now if they saw her? In her flesh they slept serenely, loved and loving, not as remembered faces, nor in any arrested act or posture, but as her blood running softly in her veins, as the beat of her heart and the drawing of her breath.

  • ... compassion for our parents is the true sign of maturity.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1954, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 5 ()
  • A wise parent humors the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and advisor when his absolute rule shall cease.

  • Don't think I underestimate the enormous power parents can have. I don't. It's staggering, it's titanic. After, all, they are real giants when we are only table high and they act according. But like everything else in life — I mean all suffering, however great — we have to get over it — to cease from harking back to it — to grin and bear it and to hide the wounds. More than that, and far more true is we have to find the gift in it. We can't afford to waste such an expenditure of feeling; we have to learn from it — and we do, I most deeply believe, come to be thankful for it. ... What I mean is. Everything must be accepted.

    • Katherine Mansfield,
    • 1921, in J. Middleton Murry, ed., The Letters of Katherine Mansfield, vol. 2 ()
  • ... parents are too apt to mistake inclination for genius.

  • There is no music sweeter in the Ears of parents, than the well earned praises of their children.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter (1787), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • Why will parents use that expression? What right have you to have a favorite child?

  • Too much indulgence has ruined thousands of children; too much love not one.

  • One of the hardest lessons I ever had to learn was that I couldn't protect my children from their own lives.

  • All people, even one's own children, come with baggage. When they're little, you have to help them carry it. But when they grow up, you have to do that difficult thing of setting their baggage down and taking up your own again.

  • ... help that is not positively necessary is a hindrance to a growing organism.

  • ... the most elementary experience of life proves that the effects of compulsion last exactly as long as the physical or moral club can be applied.


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  • It always amazed her that so few people understood: parenting was not an enthralling spectator sport.

  • If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.

  • I firmly believe, however, that if your children have never hated you, you have failed as a parent.

    • Bette Davis,
    • with Michael Herskowitz, This 'N That ()
  • ... our parents merged into the one / totemic creature: / Come, she said. Come to Mother.

  • [On serial killers:] Sometimes it's not going to matter who raises them. If the parents were Mary and Joseph, it would still turn out the same.

  • ... there is probably no such thing as an innocent question, at least not when a parent is doing the asking.

  • ... one of my earliest joys as a parent lay in knowing that at the end of the day I had once again ushered three babies back to their beds, against the odds, unscathed and peaceful. Happiness was a houseful of safe, inert bodies. Actually, it still is.

  • And a great misunderstanding is that children think their parents are grown-up, and parents feel obliged to act as if they were.

  • Parents teach in the toughest school in the world — The School for Making People. You are the board of education, the principal, the classroom teacher, and the janitor ...

  • ... perhaps children never, never come close to their parents, so intent are they on the escape from them. For it is right to escape, that I know. That is the whole business of youth, not to be swallowed up by the adults who reared us.

  • One reason you are stricken when your parents die is that the audience you've been aiming at all your life — shocking it, pleasing it — has suddenly left the theater.

  • We need to insist on fathers and mothers sharing the care of their offspring as well as the opportunity to enjoy the fulfillment of individual rights.

  • Fathers and mothers are too absorbed in business and housekeeping to study their children, and cherish that sweet and natural confidence which is a child's surest safeguard, and a parent's subtlest power.

  • That's maturity — when you realize that you've finally arrived at a state of ignorance as profound as that of your parents.

  • Every act of motherhood contains a dual intent, as the mother holds the child close and prepares it to move way from her, as she supports the child and stands it firmly on its own feet, and as she guards it against danger and sends it out across the yard, down by the stream, and across the traffic-crowded highway. Unless a mother can do both — gather her child close and turn her child out toward the world — she will fail in her purpose.

  • The free expression of resentment against one's parents represents a great opportunity. It provides access to one's true self, reactivates numbed feelings, opens the way for mourning and — with luck — reconciliation.

    • Alice Miller,
    • "Unintentional Cruelty Hurts, Too," For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence ()
  • A parent is only like to God: if his work turns out bad so much the worse for him; he dare not wash his hands of it. Time and years can never bring the day when you can say to your child, 'Soul, what have I to do with you?'

  • ... when your child is in trouble, the first thing you do is blame yourself.

  • Parents of young children should realize that few people, and maybe no one, will find their children as enchanting as they do.

  • When she had been a child, children were expected to defer to their parents in everything, to wait on them and help around the house and so on; but when she became a parent and was ready to enjoy her turn at being deferred to, the winds of fashion in child rearing had changed, and parents were expected to defer to their children in hopes of not squelching their imagination and creativity. She had missed out all the way around.

  • ... successful parenting was like log rolling, and she'd often landed in the drink.

  • A successful parent is one who raises a child who grows up and is able to pay for her or his own psychoanalysis.

  • Nothing ever seems to change at my parents' house. The kitchen feels just as it did when I was a little girl. ... It's hard to feel like a grown-up when nothing ever changes in your mother's kitchen. It's like time stands still.

  • When parents die, all of the partings of the past are reevoked with the realization that this time they will not return ...

  • Are anybody's parents typical?

  • There is no relation more intimately personal than that of parents to the child they have brought into the world; and there is therefore no relationship in which the community should be slower to interfere.

  • ... the sins of children rise up in judgment against their parents.

  • Parents do not, indeed, live by bread alone. We feast daily on banquets of our own words.

    • Sarah Bird,
    • in Mariana Cook, Mothers and Sons ()
  • Parents learn a lot from their children about coping with life. It is possible for parents to be corrupted or improved by their children.

  • Most mothers think that to keep young people away from lovemaking, it is enough never to mention it in front of them.

  • But kids don't stay with you if you do it right. It's one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won't be needed in the long run.

  • Parenting is something that happens mostly while you're thinking of something else.

  • ... organization is the religion of the single parent.

  • ... the reason most people have kids is because they get pregnant.

  • The most assiduous task of parenting is to divine the difference between boundaries and bondage.

  • It's frightening to think that you mark your children merely by being yourself. It seems unfair. You can't assume the responsibility for everything you do — or don't do.

  • I do not want an echo of myself from my children. I do not want to hear from them merely the reverberation of my own voice.

  • How many of the people I know — sons and daughters — have intricate abstract expressionist paintings of their mothers, created out of their own emotions, attitudes, hands. And how many have only Polaroid pictures of their fathers.

  • The I.Q. of the parent is in inverse ratio to the square of the children's ages.

  • ... all good qualities in a child are the result of environment, while all the bad ones are the result of poor heredity on the side of the other parent.

  • ... there is no perfect parenting, no possibility of meeting and assuaging every anxiety a small child experiences. It's simply not in the nature of life, may not even be desirable.

  • My parents did a really scary thing recently. They bought a Winnebago. This means they can pull up in front of my house anytime now and just live there.

  • Her [mother's] constant care blurs into the maternal mists while his [father's] few alcohol rubs are as memorable as if they were anointments by a prophet.

  • The debt of gratitude we owe our mother and father goes forward, not backward. What we owe our parents is the bill presented to us by our children.

  • ... one must guard against the fault of being annoyed with one's children for not being what one wished and hoped, what one wanted them to be. One must learn to abandon dreams and to take things as they come and characters as they are — one cannot quarrel with nature, and I suppose it knows best, though to us it seems cruel, perverse and contrary in the extreme. But it ends in one's feeling somewhat solitary at times!

    • Empress Frederick,
    • 1887, in Sir Frederick Ponsonby, ed., The Letters of the Empress Frederick1929)
  • Our sword in the stone grows straight down through our parents. They are right to regard us with alarm.

  • All parents want their offspring to be exemplars of virtue and achievement and happiness. But most of all, we want desperately for you to be safe — safe from disease and violence and self-destruction.

  • Everyone's parent is only a fantasy. ... It is the image one has created in the head that one is fighting. Not the real parent at all.

  • Children have always tried to avoid the mistakes their parents made, and usually they succeed — only to make their very own.

  • It is not a bad thing that children should occasionally, and politely, put parents in their place.

    • Colette,
    • "The Priest on the Wall," My Mother's House ()
  • If you would have your son to walk honorably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them — not insist upon leading him by the land, but let him learn to go alone.

  • Most parents feel keenly the embarrassment of having the infant misbehave ... and they are apt to offer a tacit apology and a vague self-defense by sharply reprimanding the child in words that are meant to give the visitor the idea that they — the parents — never heard or saw such conduct before, and are now frozen with amazement.

  • ... how much of the fun of parenthood lay in watching the children remake, with delighted wonder, one's own discoveries.

  • ... belated maternity has had its compensations; small children have a habit of conferring persistent youth upon their parents, and by their eager vitality postpone the unenterprising cautions and timidities of middle age.

  • ... if you harbor ill-will toward your parents, I think you have disowned part of yourself.

  • What parent ever thought that a child had arrived at maturity?

  • If we buy a plant of a horticulturist we ask him many questions as to its needs, whether it thrives best in sunshine or in shade, whether it needs much or little water, what degrees of heat or cold; but when we hold in our arms for the first time a being of infinite possibilities, in whose wisdom may rest the destiny of a nation, we take it for granted that the laws governing its life, health, and happiness are intuitively understood, that there is nothing new to be learned in regard to it.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • I think that's the moment when we all grow up, when we stop blaming our parents for the messes we've made out of our lives and start owning the consequences of our actions.

  • A child who's been injured by a parent waits her whole life for some acknowledgment of the wrong that's been done, some validation from him that her pain is real, that he's sorry and will make amends. The child will wait forever, unable to move forward, unable to forgive, without someone to acknowledge the past. In that powerlessness comes a terrible rage.

  • You try as a parent. You love beyond reason. You fight beyond endurance. You hope beyond despair. You never think, until the very last moment, that it still might not be enough.

  • Parenthood is nothing but doubts.

  • Loving a child doesn't mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Nadia Boulanger and Bruno Monsaingeon, Mademoiselle: Conversations With Nadia Boulanger ()
  • What daughter thinks of her parents in flagrante delicto? Yet, my mother, even after years with him, dropped hints such as, 'You know, your father enjoys his matinees.' I never even saw them go to the movies together. What could she mean? All those afternoons, I thought she was upstairs listening to La Traviata, and those high notes apparently were not coming from the radio.

  • Oh Julian, I can never express what happiness you've given me in my life. I often wonder how such luck has fallen my way. Just having children seemed such incredible delight, but that they should care for me as you make me feel you do, is something beyond all dreaming of — or even wanting. I never expected it or hoped for it, for it seemed enough to care so much oneself.

    • Vanessa Bell,
    • to Julian Bell (1935), in Regina Marler, ed., Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell ()
  • I feel sure that unborn babies pick their parents.

  • I will be the mother who / never hurt you, and you will have your / childhood back in full blossom, / whole hog. We might not know / who we are at first, there, without / our terrible pain.

  • Being a parent is a weird juggling act — and nobody does it right. Everybody does it wrong.

  • No, it doesn't do to continue yanking on the umbilical cord once the child is on its own two feet. All the time they're growing up, you have to keep taking one more step backwards, leaving them room to expand.

  • About the best a parent can hope for is the epitaph, 'He Meant Well.'

  • I used to be a reasonably careless and adventurous person before I had children; now I am morbidly obsessed by seat-belts and constantly afraid that low-flying aircraft will drop on my children's school.

    • Margaret Drabble,
    • "Children -- A Brief History of My Addiction," in Alexandra Towle, ed., Mothers: A Celebration in Prose, Poetry, and Photographs of Mothers and Motherhood ()
  • When we mourn our parents, we mourn the parents we had as well as the ones we never had. With death, all bets are off: the last chance at reconciliation or change or hope is gone. Whatever relationship we had with our parents, that's it. No more chances for something else.

  • Parents are friends that life gives us; friends are parents that the heart chooses.

  • When you're a single parent, you're often lonely, yet seldom alone. There is no backup ... It is mothering without a net.

  • Single parenthood is hard, but it's simple too. You just do everything yourself.

  • Our children give us the opportunity to become the parents we always wished we'd had.

  • The Golden Rule of Parenting is: Do unto your children as you wish your parents had done unto you.

  • The best thing to spend on your children is your time.

  • Sometimes I think it's a universal trait that parents don't ever seem able to see their offspring for what they really are. Maybe that's what keep parents from murdering their children ...

  • People who make babies surrender their right to behave like them.

  • Parents have too little respect for their children, just as the children have too much for the parents.

  • If you are a parent it helps if you are a grown-up.

  • You have to be grown up, really grown up, not merely in years, to understand your parents.

  • If we can genuinely honor our mother and father we are not only at peace with ourselves but we can then give birth to our future.

  • They were soul mates, my mother and father. They claimed to adore each other, as if the word 'adore' meant 'argue with ceaselessly.'

  • We expect too much from our children. We exact from them a perfection which we are far from carrying out in ourselves; we require of them sacrifices much heavier, comparatively, than those of any grown-up person.

  • A parent, unlike a poet, is not born — he is made.

  • Do they know they're old, / These two who are my father and my mother / Whose fire from which I came has now grown cold?

  • Being constantly with the children was like wearing a pair of shoes that were expensive and too small. She couldn't bear to throw them out, but they gave her blisters.

  • Why didn't children ever see that they could damage and harm their parents as much as parents could damage and harm children?

  • 'You almost died,' a nurse told her. But that was nonsense. Of course she wouldn't have died; she had children. When you have children, you're obligated to live.

  • She had not learned the pitiable wrongs of living for one's child.

    • Dorothy West,
    • "An Unimportant Man," The Richer, The Poorer ()
  • The end of parenthood is implicit in its beginning: separation.

  • Children can be happy when their parents are miserable. But a parent is never happier than her unhappiest child.

  • The essence of parenting is to never lose faith in your child and the essence of adulthood is to assume that faith in yourself.

    • Ann Linnea,
    • in Christina Baldwin, Storycatcher ()
  • ... devoted but unenlightened parenthood is a dangerous factor in the lives of children.

  • But who knows their own child? You know bits — certain predictable reactions, a handful of familiar qualities. The rest is impenetrable. And quite right too. You give birth to them. You do not design them.

  • It wasn't so hard being like your parents or 180 degrees the other way. What was hard was not being one way or the other.

  • ... we often experience parental anger as a horrifying encounter with our worst selves. I never even knew I had a temper until I had children.

    • Nancy Samalin,
    • with Catherine Whitney, Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma ()
  • ... the greater our love, the greater too our capacity for feeling a full range of troubling emotions, including anger, resentment, and even rage.

    • Nancy Samalin,
    • with Catherine Whitney, Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma ()
  • Let's face it, you want your parents to buy you things. It's a law of nature.

  • ... parents know how to push your buttons, because, hey, they sewed them on.

  • Raising a child is the only relationship you have where if you do it right, it will end in separation.

  • [The parents of prodigies] convey enthusiasm without conveying expectation. They reward their children more for trying than winning.

  • ... there are so many disciplines in being a parent besides the obvious ones like getting up in the night and putting up with the noise in the day. And almost the hardest of all is learning to be a well of affection and not a fountain, to show them we love them, not when we feel like it, but when they do.

  • Often when she phoned her parents, they each got on separate extensions and just talked to each other. They discussed money problems and the other's faults with a ferocity they couldn't quite manage face to face.

  • ... you grow a new heart with every child.

  • If you bungle raising your children I don't think whatever else you do will matter very much.

  • ... international adoption was a straightforward albeit Byzantine process requiring an obsessive-compulsive desire to organize paperwork, the ability to extract information from intractable bureaucracies, a high tolerance for the unknown, and a willingness to journey to a foreign land ...

  • Remember, when they have a tantrum, don't have one of your own.

  • An atmosphere of trust, love, and humor can nourish extraordinary human capacity. One key is authenticity: parents acting as people, not as roles.

  • And if you cannot trust your father and mother to love you and accept you and protect you, then you are an orphan, although your parents are upstairs asleep in their bed.

  • The best way to raise a child is to lay off.

  • It is our incompetence in communicating love, not our lack of love that drives children crazy. Most of us love our children. What we lack is a language that conveys love, that mirrors our delight — and that makes a child feel loved, respected and appreciated.

    • Alice Ginott,
    • "How to Drive Your Children Sane," Ladies' Home Journal ()
  • Parental anxieties: A timeline. Pre-1800s: Potato famine, death of entire villages. 1900s: Trying to keep dad's job through depression so entire family does not starve or have to sell off children to agribusiness. 2000: Infringement of Parenthood on sense of Personhood.

  • For years we have given scientific attention to the care and rearing of plants and animals, but we have allowed babies to be raised chiefly by tradition.

  • It is probably just as well that there is no specified training for parenthood beyond just living. There is no job in the world where rules are so likely to be a delusion and a snare. For every child is different from every other child in potentialities, disposition and temperament, and needs his own special kind of parents.

  • Most fruits, if left alone on a tree, eventually do ripen, especially if they're not being yelled at.

  • One of the things I've discovered in general about raising kids is that they really don't give a damn if you walked five miles to school. They want to deal with what's happening now.

    • Patty Duke,
    • in Patty Duke and Kenneth Turan, Call Me Anna ()
  • ... one forgives parents as naturally as one emancipates oneself from them — usually shortly afterward.

  • Lovers, children, heroes, none of them do we fantasize as extravagantly as we fantasize our parents.

  • ... whereas in childhood ... it was the parents' judgement that mattered to the child, later on the situation becomes reversed: it is then that the opinions of one's grown-up children become what matters, as well as their kindness.

  • A parent has to be silent much of the time.

  • Before we can leave our parents, they stuff our heads like the suitcases which they jam-pack with homemade underwear.

  • To have children is a double living, the earthly fountain of youth, a continual fresh delight, a volcano as well as a fountain, and also a source of weariness beyond description ...

    • Josephine Johnson,
    • "A Time for Everything," in Jean Beaven Abernethy, Meditations for Women ()
  • Commandments for parents: I. Thou shalt not administer unto thy child physicial punishment. II. Thou shalt not scold thy child, but give rewards for good behavior. III. Thou shalt never say 'Don't' to thy child. IV. Thou shalt never say 'Must' to thy child. V. Thou shalt not give thy child occasion to disrespect thee. VI. Thou shalt not frighten thy child. VII. Thou shalt not allow thy child to say 'I can't.' VIII. Thou shalt always answer thy child's questions. IX. Thou shalt not tease thy child. X. Thou shalt make thy home the most attractive place thy child can find.

  • Parents, however old they and we may grow to be, serve among other things to shield us from a sense of our doom. As long as they are around, we can avoid the fact of our mortality; we can still be innocent children.

  • ... parenting is an exercise in unintended consequences.

  • And now having a child has been taken out of the sphere of biological determinism and placed instead in the domain of intentional action. Another option to consider and decide upon. And ... not to choose is to choose.

  • Like all parents, my husband and I just do the best we can, and hold our breath and hope we've set aside enough money for our kids' therapy.

  • Loving a baby or child is a circular business, a kind of feedback loop. The more you give, the more you get, the more you get, the more you feel like giving.

  • Whatever you do to your child's body, you are doing to your child's mind.

  • Children do not need superhuman, perfect parents. They have always managed with good enough parents: the parents they happened to have.

  • Don't keep telling your parents they don't understand you. Believe me it's much worse when they do. There's just a chance, you know — they really might.

  • A positive way / To create animosity: / Extoll at great length / Our children's precocity.

    • Mary Alkus,
    • "Parental Prerogative," in The Rotarian ()
  • Parents must be careful to imprint upon their children the idea that each child is loved and special and worth attention. Somewhere deep in the subconscious, which is a very stupid place as you know if you have watched a hypnotist, we unquestioningly believe our parents and accept their opinion of us. That opinion, good or bad, becomes the blueprint for our lives.

    • Doris Haddock,
    • with Dennis Burke, Granny D: Walking Across America in My 90th Year ()
  • [On parents:] They're not gods to be pleased or devils to be exorcised. They're just there, and we can only hope they understand when we seem less than perfect. And try to understand, ourselves, when they're not all we'd like them to be.

  • ... competition with a parent is doomed from the start: you're a loser if you fail, a traitor if you win.

  • This is what growing up is about: recognizing who your parents were, appreciating what they could give, acknowledging what they couldn't give, feeling the disappointment, and moving on.

  • ... it's the mark of a successful parent to be able to send out one's young to enjoy the world without them having to give you a backward glance. The security of a loving background helps to create a child who is healthily selfish in its attitude to its parents.

  • I love my parents and they're wonderful people, but they were strict, and I still look for ways to get even. When I got my own apartment for the very first time and they came to stay with me for the weekend, I made them stay in separate bedrooms.

    • Elayne Boosler,
    • in Mary Unterbrink, Funny Women: American Comediennes, 1860-1985 ()
  • That's the nature of being a parent, Sabine has discovered. You'll love your children far more than you ever loved your parents, and — in the recognition that your own children cannot fathom the depth of your love — you come to understand the tragic, unrequited love of your own parents.

  • It seems to me that the most fundamental mistake most parents make with children is to expect them to be grateful. Children are never grateful. ... The 'sacrifices' you made were not for them, they were for you.

    • Billie Burke,
    • with Cameron Shipp, With Powder on My Nose ()
  • The rules for parents / are but three ... / Love, / Limit, / And let them be!

    • Elaine M. Ward,
    • in Peter Menconi et al., Family: Living Under the Same Leaky Roof ()
  • If I could say just one thing to parents, it would be simply that a child needs someone who believes in him no matter what he does.

  • Although we consider parents the king and queen of a family, we think they must respect their subjects now, if only to avoid the guillotine later.

    • Marguerite Kelly,
    • in Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons, The Mother's Almanac ()
  • Parents do not owe their progeny an inheritance no matter how much money they have. One of the surest ways to produce loafers and freeloaders is to let children know that their future is assured.

  • Being certain I would die in my sleep, I used to knock on my parents' door at 4 a.m. and announce my heart had stopped beating. They always assured me I was both alive and unpopular.

    • Hayley Mills,
    • in Jane Wilkie, Confessions of an Ex-Fan Magazine Writer ()
  • Living with teenagers is like watching Jeopardy! every night. After a while you start thinking, 'Maybe I am stupid.'

  • There's a conspiracy / to protect the young, so they'll be fearless, / it's why you travel — it's a way of trying / to let go, of lying. You don't sit / in a stiff chair and worry, you keep moving. / Postcards from the Alamo, the Alhambra. / ... / You, fainting at the Buddhist caves. / Climbing with thousands on the Great Wall, / ... / Having the time of your life, blistered and smiling. / The acid of your fear could eat the world.

    • Gail Mazur,
    • "Why You Travel," Zeppo's First Wife: New and Selected Poems ()
  • You don't want the children to know how afraid / you are. You want to be sure their hold on life / is steady, sturdy. Were mothers and fathers / always this anxious, holding the ringing / receiver close to the ear: / 'Why don't they answer where could they be?'

    • Gail Mazur,
    • "Why You Travel," Zeppo's First Wife: New and Selected Poems ()
  • [On scolding:] Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse?

  • Our babies cried when we left them and we cry when they leave us. Echoes. Proud almost to arrogance then, we pushed them about in their carriages. Dutifully, wearily now they push us about in our chairs.

  • We believed the fairy tales we told our children and we loved them beyond reason even when we were green and bungling about it. We were children loving our children. And that's who we are still.

  • ... being a parent is not transaction ... we do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: we are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.

  • Before the mountains call to you, before you leave this home / I want to teach your heart to trust, and I will teach my own / But sometimes I will ask the moon where it shined upon you last / And shake my head and laugh and say, 'It all went by so fast.'

    • Dar Williams,
    • "The One Who Knows," The Beauty of the Rain ()
  • Having a child ends any feelings of complacency one might ever have.

  • A wise friend told me that we all could use more than one set of parents — our relations with the original set are too intense, and need dissipating.

  • Doesn’t just about everybody disappoint their parents? They say all they want is for us to be happy, but what they really want is for us to be their do-over. Their second chance at life.

  • ... one of the exquisite ironies of being a parent is you get to stay up as late as you want, but all you want is to go to bed early.

  • If, before any children are conceived, we knew that our reward for raising them would be perhaps several phone calls a month, a very occasional visit, and the sense of having once been important in their lives, we might not do it. But if we realize that the rewards are given during the raising, we will calculate the cost differently. My children have taught me more than I have taught them, given me more joy than I have given them, and their not being present or even much aware of me now does not alter this.