Jen Hatmaker's Advice for Positive Parenting

The bestselling author and blogger shares some of her secrets for raising your children in a positive and encouraging environment.

Read Jen's inspiring story from the September 2017 issue of Guideposts magazine!

Video 1

Hey, Guideposts—I'm Jen Hatmaker. I'm a wife, I'm a mom of five kids, and I'm also the author of a brand new book called Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life.

One thing we tried in our family, when we all just sort of got down in the dumps and we just could not seem to pull up, is that we instituted this idea called the Brag Board. And all it really is is a chalk board, but we set it up in our living room, and we said, "OK, guys, any time that you catch anybody else in this family doing something kind, doing something amazing, having a success, doing something smart or helpful or wonderful, just write it on the board."

I didn't know if that would work because you know kids--they don't ever like our parenting ideas. But they did and we started writing down these beautiful things that we were catching each other doing. 

And so, one thing I've learned in parenting is that you will pretty much see what you're looking for. So, if you're looking for your kids' failures, you're going to see them in spades. But if you're looking for your kids' successes, if you're looking for what they're doing right, if you're trying to catch them being their best selves, you're going to see it—and I'll bet it's happening more than you think it is.

Video 2

Hey, Guideposts—I'm Jen Hatmaker. I'm the author of a brand new book called Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life.

When I first sat down to write Of Mess and Moxie, I thought, "How do I start this book? What are the first words that I want to say to my reader? What's the first punch I want to land?" 

I decided that I wanted that message to be: You don't have to be who you first were. And that can look a thousand different ways, but one thing that I wrote in that essay is this: "You are far more than your worst day, your worst experience, your worst season. You are more than the sorriest decision you ever made. You are more than the darkest sorrow you've endured."

And I just kept thinking, this is our life. This is normal life and it is hard but we are good and smart and strong. So that is why I titled the book Of Mess and Moxie—because we get both. We don't get to be exempt from either, and we have the capacity to rise up and be strong. 

So I think my message to women is that I am your sister and I am your friend. I'm walking alongside of you when life is hard—because mine is, too—but we have everything we need to overcome.

One way that Of Mess and Moxie is a little bit different than some of my previous books is that I just shared more in this one—a lot of things that I haven't necessarily said in public or I didn't really share in social media over the last couple of years, but our family's just...we've been through some stuff and we have suffered together and alongside one another. And we've kind of gotten to the other side of it, so it was good to talk about.

I identify with whatever in your life is hard right now, whatever in your life is going under, whatever feels like it's in the gutter. And the things specifically that you thought you had all together, and that it turns out you didn't? I'm there.

So I talk about that a little bit, about what it was like to go through it, about how I hung on to my faith in the middle of it, and ultimately how my faith delivered me through it. And so I would say this book in some places and in some ways is a little bit more tender, a little more earnest, a little bit more truthful. And I hope that it's a gift and a service to the women who read it. 

In the intro to Of Mess and Moxie, I reference a song that I grew up listening to, and I love it. It was by Martina McBride and it's called For the Girls. And in it, she sort of goes through this song she's written; she says, "This one's for the girls." And she sort of does it decade by decade. In some ways, at some point, along this book, I hope every single woman will see her reflection somewhere, that she will find some courage and hope for her story.

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