Today is my middle daughter's 18th birthday. I have (fairly successfully) raised more than half my children to adulthood. This made me reflect on what I would tell my younger self about parenting if I had the chance...

Mary Lou and her daughter, Darya Mary Lou and her daughter, Darya

Dear Younger Mom (me),

I can never explain to you the joy, fear, frustration, happiness, pride and anger you will feel while you raise your children. I want you to know that it is all normal and if you just go into this knowing how absolutely imperfect this process is, you will be a calmer, less stressed parent.

Pray unceasingly! Turn everything over to God. Give your children to Him daily and trust His plan, even when you can't see the wisdom in it. In the times of struggle run, don't walk, to the Sacrament of Confession! Let your children see that you know what to do when you stumble, allow them to see the humility it takes to seek forgiveness and help. Teach them not to be afraid of this beautiful Sacrament and to view it as the avenue if grace it is. Ditto for Mass, daily if possible. Let the Eucharist sustain you and pray with tears when they come (and they will).

Each child has their own temperament and you cannot parent any two children exactly the same way. It is in some children's nature to listen and process; others have to learn everything the hard way. Don't feel you have to do everything, even discipline, the same way with each child. It doesn't have to be equal, it only has to be fair and just.

Just because you do A, B, and C perfectly does not mean your children turn out D! Look at the families you know and see that some children from really good families have lost their way and even sometimes (gulp) their Faith. Then, pause and remember yourself at their age. How much further has The Lord brought you. Believe your children, through God's grace and the cooperation of your prayers, will get there too.

The root word of discipline is disciple, which means to teach. Never, ever forget that goal and pick your battles carefully, with each particular child's strengths, weaknesses and temperaments in mind.

Trust in your own mother's wisdom. It is so easy to think books and experts contain wisdom, but they only contain information. Moms and grandmas have wisdom and they love your children as much as you do! Turn to them in times of need or question. Encourage a strong relationship between your children and their grandparents.

You are the expert on your child!! Trust your instincts and push when you need to push. Whether your a choosing a medical plan or a school for your child, don't hand control over to someone else who is supposed to know more than you do. Get advice, study, but trust your gut. Every family is different and we should not criticize a decision to send kids to public school, private school, or homeschool (you, my dear will do all three). Do what's right for your family and recognize that 'what's right' sometimes changes along the way. Be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit when it comes.

Have fun, love, live... It goes by way too fast, but while you are changing diapers and wiping noses you won't believe me. I know, because I didn't and my daughter turns 18 today; she was 2 only yesterday.

God Bless,

Copyright 2015 Mary Lou Rosien. Image copyright 2015 Mary Lou Rosien. All rights reserved.