Political satirist P. J. O’Rourke once said, “Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them.”
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Being a parent is rough work, there is no denying that. From caring for the tender tyke and ensuring that nothing horrible befalls him to guiding him in the right direction as he grows and matures, parents have serious responsibilities with major ramifications.
Though many parents make it look effortless, even these seemingly together duos are like ducks on a pond – calm above the water, but feet paddling ceaselessly below. To reduce the ferocity with which you must paddle your flippers to keep your head above water, prepare yourself to handle some of the hardest challenges you will face as a parent.
1. Let Your Child Fall
If you’re like most parents, you would be perfectly content to wrap your child in bubble-wrap, leaving but a wee hole for his eyes (and maybe another one so he can breathe). Alas, you can’t.
As hard as it may be to see the apple of your eye tumble and scrap his knee or to hug him while he cries after a boy in his class called him a diaper butt, you have to let these things happen.
Protecting your child from everything doesn’t make you a good parent. Instead, it sets your munchkin up for a rough road later in life when the pains he will face will be much more severe and will come from things from which you can’t protect him.
2. Welcome Natural Consequences
Natural consequences are the world’s answer to doing things you shouldn’t do. That burn you get when you touch the stove – natural consequence. Getting nipped by the hamster that you picked up with too much haste – natural consequence.
Receiving a detention for copying a friend’s paper instead of writing your own – natural consequence. If you allow your child to experience some of these things, you enable him to learn from his own mistakes.
Please note, however, that some natural consequences – like getting hit by a car because you didn’t look both ways – are too severe to be learning experiences, obviously.
3. Embrace The Child You Have
Despite how perfect your child may look swaddled in his bassinet – his 10 fingers and 10 toes all accounted for and his little curl of angelic hair brushed across his forehead, he isn’t perfect. No child is.
Every child has his own quirks, some of which you may not like. Your child may be too sensitive or not sensitive enough. He may be too hyper or too placid. He may be so exceptionally smart that he can’t socialize with anyone or he may struggle so profoundly that working on his homework with him nightly becomes tantamount to Chinese water torture.
Whatever you get at the end of the day, that’s the child you have. Wishing for something different or striving to change who he is won’t make anything any different. Accept your child, including all of his flaws or idiosyncrasies and you will find the time you spend with him more enjoyable.
4. Ready Yourself For Insults
It may be impossible to imagine as you hold your child to your breast and sing him a lullaby that there will ever come a time that he will say anything but sweet words to you. In all likelihood, however, that time will come.
You will somehow grow more lame as he ages and, by the time he reaches his troublesome teens, you will – at least from time to time – seem a major nuisance to him. During this time, he may even toss a few barbs your way.
A few utterings of, “Get away from me,” or “You’re ruining my life,” or maybe even an, “I hate you.” When he does this, it will hurt. Nothing can prevent that. But if you ready yourself for it you can enable yourself to better handle the emotional tailspin these utterances will inevitably induce.
5. Ignore Others
As P.J. O’Rourke suggested, often, the people who feel they know the most about raising children aren’t the ones who are actually raising them. As you do your best to navigate the choppy waters of parenthood, you may find yourself facing opposition in the form of criticism or even shaming from others.
Ignore these people. They don’t know your situation. They don’t know who you are or who your kids are or what you do with them behind closed doors. Don’t allow them to frustrate or upset you. Instead, move forward in being the best possible parent you can be.