Parenting is more difficult than ever before. Parents now have access to more information than any previous generation. However, so much of the information is contradictory it can leave a brand new parent bewildered and confused and result in even more self-doubt than ever. Parents have always suffered from self-doubt, but the current array of strong opinions on so many different parenting subjects, can actually undermine a new parent, cause them to question themselves continuously, and even interfere with the natural bonding process.
So, what’s a parent to do?
- Find information that strengthens you and leaves you feeling excited and invigorated about this journey of parenthood.
- Listen to your heart.
- Question everything. Feel free to question me, disagree with me, find your own answers.
- Never operate out of fear. Our fears can be about what other people might think, fear of not being the ‘perfect parent,’ fear of exposing our child to some perceived danger, etc.
- Never operate out of pride. Our pride in our accomplishment as a parent can cause us to push our children or try to mold them into something we can brag about. This is not a healthy response to the uniqueness of our children.
- Take time to refresh and boost yourself. Give yourself permission. At first, when your baby is small it might be just setting aside 20 minutes a day and talking a walk while wearing your baby. There might be a million things in your home crying out for your attention, but taking that walk is probably what your brain and body need. As your baby gets older and is able to happily stay for a short time with a loving care-giver, use the time to truly refresh yourself. Exercise is usually better than shopping. Just saying.
- Find wisdom from parents who have a relationship with their older children which you admire.
For me, personally, I find incredible insight and wisdom from reading regularly through the Bible. The first four books of the New Testament provide eye-witness accounts of the life of Jesus, his teachings and his example of sacrifice. The rest of the ancient documents making up the New Testament were written by the original followers of Jesus explaining how to put Jesus’ life and teaching into practice. Living with a knowledge of God’s love for me motivates and inspires me to love my children beyond my own ability.
Jesus loved children. He was upset that people would mistreat children, or even that they would try and keep children away from him. He wanted to interact with them. He healed many children from dreadful physical illnesses. He loved their childlike faith. He even said His followers needed to become more like children. He summed up the entire law in a very simple statement: love God with all your heart mind and soul, and love others as you love yourself. If we remember to love our children and put their needs on the same level as our own, we will be the best parent our child could hope to have.
Most homes have too many rules. If we simplify to just respect ourselves and respect others, most of the other issues will be resolved. Parenting is a long-term commitment. You don’t need to be perfect. Let go of even hoping to be perfect. Allow yourself to learn through your mistakes and understand what you are aiming for. Taking a longer term perspective will help you weather the bumps you will face. No parenting journey is without them!
What do you hope your relationship with your child will be like when they are 30 years old? When they are a parent?