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It’s a gift not everybody’s lucky to receive. It’s a joy inexplicable. Yet, it doesn’t come without difficulties or challenges. Parenting - a beautiful journey where you grow at every step. Each step worth taking and learning valuable lessons from. A journey where the child and the parent get an exclusive opportunity to learn and grow together.
When I first became a parent, tens of people gathered around - to congratulate, to make me feel special and lucky, and to warn me of the tough times that lay ahead. Admittedly, I was already somewhat aware of some of the difficulties - sleepless nights, added workload, less of “me time”, to name a few.
But, there are many more inherent characteristics of parenting that become apparent only when you become one yourself. And these traits nobody can familiarize you with beforehand. Of course, you may have observed these things around you with other mom friends or in your own family but they hit you only when you are a parent.
Here are 5 such things about parenting which you learn as you go. As a mother of two, I have picked up these learnings along the way and share them today on National Parents Day:
5 Things Nobody Tells You About Parenting
1. These lovely cuties can be really mean sometimes
This very bundle of joy that you lovingly held in your arms at birth wouldn’t always stay the same. We all know that. But what we don’t think or realize at the time is that this very munchkin may grow into a little monster one day (no kidding, they’d actually make you feel that way at times). It’s not just the naughty things they do or the stuff they break around at home when they’re restless.
It’s the lies they start saying, the stuff they start hiding from you because you wouldn’t approve of it, the mean words they say leaving you absolutely speechless at times, and the tears they bring to your eyes when they say mean things to you. Of course, they’re growing up, understanding things more (presumably better according to them). They literally forget who you are to them. But it’s part of parenting.
2. You’d never get free even when they grow up
When they’re born, people tell you it’s just a matter of 2-3 years. When they start going to school, you’d find time for yourself. Huh! They start schooling and there comes the pressure of their studies, which only keeps mounting as they advance to higher classes (the pressure is equally on you).
They enter teenage and you’re on your guard, 24/7. They finish studies and move to a job and you don’t get sleep until they return home from work. So basically, from day 1 that you become a parent until the time they perhaps get married and move out, you’re on your toes! Even after marriage, you’re nearly always worried about their well-being and that of their kids. Such is the nature of a parent. It’s a commitment you enter into for your whole life.
Parenting is a beautiful journey where each step is worth taking and learning valuable lessons from.
3. There is no standard solution that works for all kids
On mom forums and online communities or even at kids’ play dates and birthday parties, you’d always hear moms sharing specific problems that they’re dealing with regard to their kids and seeking other moms’ opinion on the same. One mom would reply, “Oh, I tried this with my daughter and she’s doing much better now.” Hearing which, the other mom would happily promise to apply the same in her case too.
Alas! It doesn’t always work. The reason: no two kids are the same, even if the situation may be remotely similar. This is why what works for one mom with her child doesn’t for the other. Yes, you can take cues and adapt to them accordingly in the case of your child but expecting the same result would be unfair.
Likewise, even with your own children, no two siblings are the same . Not even two pregnancies and the experiences therein. So the lessons you learnt from the first one may not always apply in the second. The way you raised your first child may not work anymore with your second one.
It’s amazing and equally amusing to note how two kids born from the same womb can be polar opposites! They need to be treated accordingly which, of course, you learn as you deal with each of them every single day. Not to mention, the competitiveness and the jealousy they naturally feel for each other, which you need to tackle with, gently but surely (at a very early stage, preferably), so that they can grow up into loving siblings.
4. You can’t always be a parent
You need to play multiple roles at different times. You are a parent to them at all times, undoubtedly, but you also need to become their friend, confidante, peer, sibling, and whatnot at different stages of their life. Only then can you actually expect them to be on your side.
Often, people (when they grow up) complain of not having shared a close, rather comfortable, relationship with one or both of their parents during childhood. This is partly because the parents somewhere failed to adopt other roles. As a parent, they continued to be authoritative, disciplining, and tough on the children even as they grew up into adults.
This is when those children may start getting rebellious and even begin distancing themselves from their parents. They hardly talk, let alone share their feelings with the latter. It’s also important to remember that usually the first step to developing a lifelong close bond with the child needs to be initiated by the parent. The child would slowly but surely follow suit.
Ideally, you can be a parent to your child until the time they enter teenage. They then expect to be treated differently. Being a friend, a confidante to them is what usually works, of course, while still maintaining your dignity all the way through. When they get married, they expect parents to be their guide and pillar of support they can fall back upon for assistance to raise their own respective families.
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5. No parenting book can teach you the rules of parenting
They only come with experience and parenting itself is the biggest teacher. You rise with pride sometimes and fall down as you falter. But the key lies in rising again, learning valuable lessons on dealing with specific situations more wisely in favor of both you and your child.
I remember having read a couple of books myself, each offering better parenting tips. But I now realize that because all kids are different, you actually end up writing your own story by the end of it all! Again, you can always take cues from other people’s experiences but your experience in parenting would always be unique.
Perhaps now we get the answer to why our parents couldn’t do certain things the way we’d wanted them to. Well, because they too learned en route this journey we call parenting and nobody had told them too what it’s like to be a parent. Perhaps time to give a shout out on this Parents Day to all those wonderful parents out there (including ourselves) who’re doing the best job they possibly can.
Parenting is tough. And you only understand that when you are one. Love your parents and thank them for what they’ve made of you. Be a great parent to your own kids so they can carry the legacy forward.
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