Top 10 Inspiring, Lovely Quotes About Parenthood

mom hugging baby

Everyone knows that quote about how children are like your heart being outside of your body, right? It has the ring of truth, the saying that having children is "deciding forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body," and I suppose that's why it resonates with so many people, including me.

I'm not normally a big fan of bumper sticker philosophy, but I do find that certain quotes about parenthood stick with me over time ... maybe because my brain only has room for nugget-sized wisdom these days. Or maybe because it's so deeply satisfying to experience, in a few short words, the thoughts that have crossed my own mind as I clumsily fumble my way through the momentous task of raising young people.

If you could use a little inspiration today—or just some lovely words—here's my list of the top parenting quotes I've come across. I hope you enjoy them.


The most terrifying day of your life is the day the first one is born. Your life, as you know it ... is gone. Never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk ... and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life. — Bob, Lost in Translation

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands. — Anne Frank

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain, and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. — Erma Bombeck

Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them. — P. J. O'Rourke

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time aroundand why his parents will always wave back. — William D. Tammeus

I don't remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don't even know exist until you love a child. — Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year

I thought, how can it be that two strangers are exchanging such intimate things? Well, most women are full to the brim, that’s all. That’s what I think. I think we are most of us ready to explode, especially when our children are small and we are so weary with the demands for love and attention and the kind of service that makes you feel you should be wearing a uniform with “Mommy” embroidered over the left breast, over the heart. I (used to sit) half watching Ruthie and half dreaming—trying, I think, to recall my former self. If a stranger had come up to me and said, “Do you want to talk about it? I have time to listen,” I think I might have burst into tears at the relief of it. It wasn’t that I was really unhappy. It was the constancy of my load and the awesome importance of it; and it was my isolation. — Elizabeth Berg, The Pull of the Moon

It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. — Joyce Maynard

There is nothing that can bring you closer to fearlessness about everything else in the world than being a parentbecause everyday fears, like not being approved of, pale by comparison to the fears you have about your children— Arianna Huffington

You are the closest I will ever come to magic. — Suzanne Finnamore, The Zygote Chronicles

Do you have any parenting quotes that are near and dear to your heart?

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