We watch adorable baby food commercials and think, "I can't wait to have those happy moments with my own kids." When we actually have kids we discover parenting is hard work, sleepless nights and days of questioning our ability to deal with a two-year-old mid-tantrum. It is also life lessons we wouldn't have had without our kiddos!
Lesson #1: It's okay to admit we don't know everything
Part of parenting is feeling unprepared. My first real struggle came during our firstborn's first 3 months, she had severe colic and I had no sleep. My shining moment was at 2:30 am when I was sobbing because the baby was screaming and I told my husband we had to take her back to the hospital because obviously she didn't like me and I had NO idea what I was doing. (Hey, in my sleep deprived state it all made sense to me!)
Parenting teaches us:
We can't know everything, and it's okay that we don't
There are resources out there to help
We need to put our pride or ego aside and ask for help
Little ones can stump even the most well educated adults!
Lesson #2: Things don't have to be equal to be okay
Parenting comparisons begin early in our child's life. "Oh, my Kyle started walking at 9 months" or "Becky started reading at a very early age." Later we hear that these same kids are now star athletes and in all honors classes. In the meantime, you're trying to help your 5th grader survive math.
As our kids get older we have much more serious topics to deal with including bullying, academic struggles, anxiety/depression, experimentation with drugs and alcohol. It's during these challenging periods that many parents hide their problems from their friends and neighbors for fear of judgement or criticism.
It's in this lesson that we learn to accept others "as is" (including our kids), comparing is more about our own ego than the other person, and kids show their own skills and personality when they're ready. The magical thing about parenting is that we get a front row seat as we watch our kids grow into the adult version of themselves!
Lesson #3: Honesty about our struggle is healthy and helpful
When we chat with other parents the tendency is to make sure our family image fits with perceived expectations. Honestly, there is no perfect family and the more we share the "warts" the less stressed we'll be, plus we'll discover ways other families have dealt with similar struggles.
Here's what I know:
You are not alone in your struggles.
Even the best famiies hit speed bumps.
Despite what you're thinking, it's not all your fault.
Admitting you don't have the answers is the first step to learning the answers!
Other parents have walked a similar journey of sadness, confusion or frustration.
Help is available, we just need to ask.
Lesson #4: Life is all about changes
Parenting isn't only about children growing, parents have to evolve and change too! This can be difficult because we sometimes get stuck in our pattern of protecting and forget to shift into preparing our child with skills she'll need as an independent adult. Our job: take a step back and encourage your child to develop independence, it's through trial and error that she will learn to succeed.
As you look back on your years as a parent, how have you changed? Are there things you'd still like to work on? If so, let's chat!
For strategies and support or to book a group workshop (it's easy!) contact me today! firstname.lastname@example.org