Best Tips for Effective Parenting for Every Parent 1

Best Tips for Effective Parenting for Every Parent

October 1999, I thought I had the parenting thing down pat. I could have easily written tips on what I knew then about effective parenting for every parent.

I would have been wrong.  

Mary Margaret, aka Maggie, Magpie, and the Magster was easy… even if we thought she was hard.  I did, in fact, take her to the emergency room once for a nasty temper tantrum.  So outside the realm of her “normal” behaviors, I thought she had a tumor.

She was diagnosed with an over zealous need for a particular Barbie.

That will be $5000.00.

I also took John to the emergency room because I thought his penis fell off.  How men live with such a fickle appendage is beyond me.

I should interject, I have a Masters Degree in Counseling and Human Development, but mommy emotions trump education and pummel common sense.

There is no rhyme to the reason.

And then the Lord said, “Let there be Luke.”

Ah… Luke.

Once when we were moving into a new house, we were looking a little… rough, and I made a quick trip into Target.  Luke, who was about 5 at the time asked for some candy.  I said no.  We were in a hurry and frankly, we were surviving on McDonald’s and donuts… we didn’t need any more junk.  He was mad, but quiet, or so I thought.

As I pushed my weighted basket with babes, toiletries and all things “new house” Luke strolled solemnly behind me.

When we got to the check out an angry older woman approached me.

“You are quite the piece of work!” She barked.

“Excuse me?” I was shocked.

“Having your children beg for money for lunch so you can buy all this crap!  I hope those fluffy towels bring you much comfort here on earth, cause you’ll burn in hell for depriving these poor babies of food!”

She bent over and handed Luke a $10 bill and said, “I can only hope she lets you buy a sandwich with this.”

Best I could figure, while I had run in the ladies room Luke had been panhandling and destroying my good name with passersby the public toilet.

And this is our youngest biological manbaby; creative to a fault, kind, funny, a free spirit in search of truth, shockingly handsome, hungry, brilliant, and mischievous.

Recently his wallet was stolen, so he started a go-fund me… it was trending on Facebook for over a week.

And in October after two years of hard core rebellion and frankly… epic nonsense, he had returned from Military School and enrolled at my Alma Mater – my husband and I were eager to surprise him with a new to him Nissan Sentra.  Everything about the car made me smile… it was altogether a “Luke Mobile.”

We sent him a birthday text:

ME:  Hey boo, we need your help tomorrow picking up this…

Luke:  Is that a used car?  Because honestly, unless it is new I have no need for a leftover, run down lemon you bought for a dollar on Craigslist.

We sat in stunned silence and just before my husband grabbed my phone and told Luke things no one should say to their son we got a second message….

Luke:  JUST KIDDING!  Are you guys serious????  Did you really buy that for me???  I can’t believe that is mine????  I couldn’t have picked anything more perfect!

This is  my Luke Henry.

Prankster, genius, juvenile delinquent, Rico Suave’, delight… I love this boy-man.

And I love what he has taught me about myself and my God.

As I gathered the items from his car at the impound yesterday, I was altogether confused by what he considers his “possessions” and how they differ from… rubbish, and elated that the scene wasn’t much different.

A few weeks ago Luke’s car was stolen from a party by a “friend.”

It was totaled and abandoned.

In spite of every effort to bring charges so the collision would be covered by our insurance, in the end it was Luke’s word against the perpetrator.

With the afternoon sun pounding down on the battered Nissan and the lingering smell of stale ketchup stinging my nose, I loaded items from Luke’s car into mine.  I listened to my husband talking to the officer, “Look, I know my son.  He has done some stupid stuff that we have made sure he paid the price for, he’s not perfect and I am not making excuses for him, but he was not driving this car.  We have witnesses.”

My mind drifted to the sea of destroyed vehicles strewn about the lot.  I prayed for parents who came to collect possessions for man-babies they’d never see again and was ever the more grateful for Luke’s life.

My husband and I left the lot hot, bothered, and headed to Luke’s dorm.

You can comment below with all the things I have done right, I am certain many will think I am wrong, but I wanted nothing more than to hug and love on my baby.  In spite of things he kept in his car that I cannot unsee, I wanted nothing more than to tell him I loved him.

Certainly, there are lectures about better classes of friends.

I am entirely positive we could have yelled, hollered and screamed.

I do not doubt we are disappointed.

I fully acknowledge Luke is too.

Undoubtedly the consequences of this event will be long lasting.

Still… my boy. 

Safe, wiser, and a bit jaded… how I love Him.

I am undone by how much I enjoy my semi-adult children.  I love their minds.  I enjoy their company. I am grateful for their questions and all that they seek to know.  And it is from this place, away from them I have seen the message of Grace most clearly.

Perhaps I am at an advantage.  With seven children aged 19-months to 23-years-old, I am simultaneously cleaning bums and watching other bums climb on military buses headed to boot camp.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way… but skinned knees are easier to deal with than hurt hearts and totaled Nissans.

Baby smells are often more pleasant than a Whataburger that’s been baking in the Texas sun inside a stolen Sentra for the better part of 16 days…

Still, I love.

Not because of what they do but simply because of who they are.

Here, these are the tips I would give to a new parent,  like me…

  1. These children owe me nothing.
  2. My children’s mistakes do not define them.
  3. Parenting children don’t make their accomplishments spike and increase my adoration – nor are they mine to boast of.
  4. Their failure, while impossibly hard to watch, not only doesn’t decrease my love for them… they aren’t my fault… I am not using them to satisfy my wrath or cause them harm.

This is the very model God uses to describe His love for me.

For years I have been most aware of these holy Words…. But I counted them as half-truths.

Yes, nothing can separate me from His love… well, except for XYZ.

Surely His goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life…. Unless of course I A – B – C.

Out both sides of my mouth with a wounded heart and broken spirit I believed the God of all loved me, but…

I love you, BUT…

The worst of all I love you’s.

The insult to the injury.

[clickToTweet tweet=”I love you, BUT… The worst of all I love you’s. The insult to the injury” quote=”I love you, BUT… The worst of all I love you’s. The insult to the injury”]

The crime against the gift… today as we delivered “possessions” to our son, this was my heart’s desire, to show him perfect love.

No ifs –

No ands –

No buts…

A grace filled love.

This is the love I desire to give and am most eager to receive.

A blind love, no lectures or I told you so-s.

Simple and undeserved favor which is perfected and grows through intimate conversations where Jesus is poured into me and I receive Him like never before.  Not with a self-righteous and semi-contrite heart – not self-focused but Christ focused and fully aware that He is the only method of change.

My greatest hope is that by finally receiving this, accepting my inheritance and believing in the reality that is the righteousness that was purchased for me on Calvary – I can give as fully as I receive. Tips from the heart of my Father in Heaven include:

1.  Perfect love, which casts out all fear and also… protects.

2.  Undeserved favor…Grace.

No matter the state of my Nissan.

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained.  Love, Jami

Colossians 3:20-21  Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers,  do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.


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  1. Don McKelvie on April 21, 2017 at 4:12 am


  2. Glenna McKelvie on April 21, 2017 at 7:41 am

    And, as your children become adults, even then they won’t
    cease to facinate you!

  3. Julie Richmond on April 21, 2017 at 9:07 am

    This is so well said – spot on my friend! Love is the answer and response that was needed.
    I raised my only son in the world. I was hard, relentless, had very few traits worth emulating. But he always knew I loved him. We surrendered to Jesus almost one year apart he at 17 and I at 44. Up until Jr High- he was no trouble (then rebellion started….he was more like me than I ever realized).
    Wrecked cars, stolen $, credit card (mine) abuse…
    Because of Gods Grace – He worked on my heart for unconditional love just like He had given me. Fast forward, my son Travis is 31, married almost 9 years (battled through some real hard spots), has 3 marvelous children (the middle on Lily is much like he and I and only 4 ). He is an amazing father and son. He has not been walking with God for a while now, but allows my 2 oldest grandchildren to attend church with me.
    Thank you for always hitting the nail on the head, for speaking truth transparently!!!
    Enjoy this day!

  4. Shelley Christensen on April 21, 2017 at 10:06 am


  5. Leigh on April 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Our first child was our only child for seven years. She was the model of a complaint, easy child. She wanted nothing more than to please. I was certain I was the best. parent. ever.

    Then God said “Let there be Lindsay”!

    I was brought to my knees by this child that was born arguing, was so strong willed that Dr Dobson would have to re-write his book if he met her, was totally not interested in pleasing anyone but herself.

    God had to teach me to trust Him with my kids. To realize He knows it all and I don’t. To not judge other parents and how they parented.

    Both kids are adults now. The older one has struggled with perfectionism and the younger one, while much less stubborn, still needs my love and support more than most thirty years old adults do. And I give it, freely and even tho some other parents think I’m too soft.

    I’m thankful that God in His great mercy loves me in spite of me. How can I show any less to my child?

    Once again, Jami, thank you for speaking to my Momma heart.

  6. Christine Carter on April 21, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    This this this THIS! It has everything you’ve been gifted with… and everything we need. A wonderful view into your parenting and hilarious woes, the remarkable amounts of unpredictable events our children create and the thrilling ride they take us on, your wit that literally makes me LAUGH OUT LOUD always, and oh yes oh yes…

    Grace flooding your heart from the King of Kings Himself- poured out through it all, on it all, and overflowing into us through your humorous unfolding tales that always take us to The Most High.

    So good. So so good.


    The greatest Truth there is… The greatest gift of all.

    Mercy. Unending. Unconditional. Irreversible. God’s gift that we never stop unwrapping… over and over again.

    It’s unfathomable, but unquestionable.

    Soaking it all in, and so grateful God chose you to share it the way you do.

  7. Sarah Geringer on April 22, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Jami, I love your funny FB videos and your occasional posts on Kelly Balarie’s blog. Your stories are wise, funny, and grace-filled. I didn’t know you hosted a linkup until today. Glad to linkup with you today and I’ll be back on Fridays to get a dose of laughter-medicine.

    • jami_amerine on April 22, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Thanks friend! So glad you are here!

  8. Meghan E. Weyerbacher on April 22, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    This.was.awesome. I love you, Jami. LOOOVE you.

    • jami_amerine on April 22, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      I love you!!

  9. Robinf on April 23, 2017 at 6:22 am

    This made me cry. I want so much to enjoy my young adult children but often find it so difficult. I have a “Luke” in the midst of trials and temptations I’ve never experienced and it breaks my heart. I’m trying so hard to give grace but their decisions ….. ugh. I remind myself all the time that they belong to God.

    • jami_amerine on April 23, 2017 at 7:13 am

      They do. It’s nots easy. ❤️

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