12 Lessons I’ve Learned In 12 Years Of Parenting.

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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My wife and I have been in the parenting business for nearly 12 years now. To say that it's been an adventure would be quite the understatement. It's been more than an adventure. It's been an adventure, doctorate study, Mount Everest climb, parachute jump, and journey to Middle Earth all wrapped into one! (I'm not really sure how Middle Earth made it into that list :-)).

Through pain, and joy, and sadness, and struggles, and happiness, and (sometimes) difficult life circumstances, we’ve learned so much. We’re still learning, in fact. Here are 12 lessons we’ve learned over these 12 magnificent years…

Life is unpredictable.

Back in the day, when my wife and I were in college, we drew up a plan. It was nice, and dreamy, and filled with wonder and awe. And then real life started. Kids showed up. Then the bills for those kids showed up. And somewhere in the vault of our life that original “plan” remained. Today, if it could be found, it would probably have about 3 inches of dust on it. Never saw that one coming. Yep, life is unpredictable!

I’m stronger than I realize.

If you would have told us in our early 20’s what we would have to walk through with our children, nearly 2 decades later, we probably would have started crying, a lot! In our immaturity and childish minds, we would not have thought we had the strength. But something amazing happens when trials show up at our doorsteps. Fibers we didn’t know existed in our souls, begin to bind together and become strong. I have realized that I have more strength to face trials than I may have thought a long time ago.

My wife is a rock.

She’s amazing, on so many levels! You can read all about her awesomeness here.

Kids are stubborn.

I don’t really need to clarify this, do I?

Parenting is a marathon not a sprint.

It’s also a journey and not a destination. More on that in a minute. We’ve learned that we are in the parenting biz for the long haul. Just as a runner has to prepare for the 26.2 miles he or she has to run, and make sure they have what it takes to make it all the way, so it is with parenting. Each mile is a milestone, each minute is another benchmark reached. Really, you never stop running…

I’ll never stop being a parent.

Til the day I breath my last breath, I will be a father to my children. I will always be an influence in their lives. It will change over the years, and there will be a season where I’m not the strongest influence, but I will always be an influence. Even when I’m old and gray! This really is a journey that is ongoing. It’s not a destination. There is no end.

Life is more fun with kids.

Last night we had an impromptu showing on our house (it’s for sale). It was last minute and dinner was about to be placed on the table. The only solution was to load everyone up in the car and head for a local park, crockpot full of stew and all. We ate dinner and then we played a mean game of tag for the next hour around the swing sets. It was so much fun. My kids laughed, and played, and enjoyed one another’s company. Life is just more fun with kids!

New parents have no idea.

Sorry newbies, but you don’t! Know why I know? Because I was once a new parent. Actually before we became parents, I remember us saying things like, “Man, their kids are out totally of control…they need to get a grip and start being a parent!!” Annndddd, then I had kids. I never said those words again, and never will, for the rest of my life!

Kids cost money.

The other day I was going through our budget and just before I asked my wife where all of our money went, I remembered…. there’s 8 money-vacuums with my last name walking the face of the earth!

Pooping and barfing could be olympic sports.

Last week, as we drove to Florida for vacation, one of our kids threw up four times in the car! And if that wasn’t enough, after my wife had crawled to the back of our van (all 4 times) to deal with the explosion of epic proportions, our dog decided to get in on the action and threw up on my wife’s lap! We don’t deal with dirty diapers any more but when we did, they were epic too!

I may never sleep again.

To date we figure we are at least 12 years behind on sleep. If you factor in 8 children and multiply them by 12, that’s a grand total of 96 years! We actually may never sleep again.

Drama isn’t contained to Hollywood.

Oh my Dear Lord in Heaven, the drama! Ohhh the drama! Everything from “HE LOOKED AT ME,” to “EVERYBODY HATES ME AND YOU’RE RUINING MY LIFE,” to “IT’S NOT FAIR, I WANT AN IPHONE BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE HAS AN IPHONE!” to “HE CALLED ME A POOPY HEAD!” If only the Academy knew about my family, we’d have quite a few friends named “Oscar” hanging out on our mantel!

What are some lessons you’ve learned in your parenting career? Share away!

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.