While my lessons are invariably different than the parenting lessons you've received, I thought I would share five lessons that have become clear to me over the years.
You will never be finished learning about parenting.
I have been a parent for almost 19 years now, and can you believe, I am still learning. I've read oodles and oodles of parenting books, and I'm still learning. Just like relationships, parenting is complex because we're dealing with human beings. If we had human beings all figured out, we wouldn't have any scientists still studying human behavior. Just when we think we have this whole parenting thing figured out, along comes a new phase, a new situation, or a new child. And we are learning something new to help us and our children through life. But that is one of the things I love about parenting - it's never boring. I am a lover of learning, and there is always something to keep me growing and on top of my game.
There is no such thing as equality in parenting.
No matter how hard you try, you cannot treat your children totally equal. You can't spend an equal amount of time with each child, so don't let the guilt that you aren't get you down. The other day my teenager says to me "I saw how much money you guys spent on Ian's summer activities. Why don't you ever spend money on me like that?" I swallowed my hysterical laugh, but I did remind him that I am paying over $6000 per year for him to go to college. I did not mention that I spent money on him for summer activities too. It can be easy to fall into this trap of thinking we have to do everything equal with our kids, but that is impossible. Kids have different needs for attention. They have different interests that require different amounts of timeChildren have different personalities and some require more training and teaching, while others learn the first time. Different ages receive different privileges and consequences. So don't focus on equality. Instead, concentrate on treating your children fairly.
You are not to blame for everything that happens with your child.
When a child acts out, it is so easy to point the finger at the parent. If you yourself are not saying "I should have, I could have, I wish I would have", someone else is probably saying it. You cannot live in the past, and you cannot predict the future. You don't know without any amount of certainty if anything in your life or with your child would be any different if you had made different choices. My younger son was recently diagnosed with depression and anxiety. My husband is convinced that if I had allowed him to spank when he was younger, this wouldn't have happened. Depression and anxiety in a child is way too complicated to blame it on one person. And besides, what good does that do anyway? Each and every child is different, and they interact and respond to the world in their own way. Much of what they experience, in my opinion, is part of the plan. As a good friend said to me, "my niece is autistic and my grandfather is left-handed. It was not caused by their parents - it is just the cards they were dealt in life."
You can trust your intuition.
If you really pay attention to your children, and truly tap into one of your greatest resources, you will always know intuitively what is best for your child. People can give you advice, and you can read books, but the real answers lie within you. And God is your source for the greatest parenting wisdom there ever was. He will give you any answers you don't have, if you listen to him long enough. I remember one day when my son Ian was 2. My older son was trying on some new clothes, and all of a sudden we heard Ian start crying. He had slipped on some magazines and fallen. As I held him and observed him, I knew he was really hurt. My husband was sure that he was okay, but my intuition was strong that evening. I didn't know exactly what was wrong, but I knew it was something far more serious that my husband thought. I'm glad I trusted my intuition and took him to the hospital. Alan had snapped his femur bone in half and was in a body cast for the next six weeks.
Parenting is hard! (Gosh darnit!)
I don't care how hard someone tries to prepare you, or how much you love your children, parenting is hard! I suppose it could be easier for some parents, but I know for me, it's been hard. And I happen to believe there are a lot of moms who feel the same way, even though they may not talk about it. So much has been blamed on moms that I believe moms are afraid to talk about the "real" challenges they have. And that to me is sad because we need all the support we can get in raising our children. There is no shame in seeking professional help. There is no shame in struggling. There is no shame in having a child that doesn't fit the norm, whatever that is. You can admit that parenting is hard, and you don't have to compare yourself to the mom next door that appears to have everything together. You can accept the mom that you are today, and your children can be who they are today. We are all growing and learning, and we are all imperfect. That's what makes motherhood perfect!
Copyright Lori Radun, CEC
Lori Radun is a certified life coach, inspirational speaker and author of the award winning book "The Momnificent! Life - Healthy and Balanced Living for Busy Moms". To receive two free special reports plus 52 weeks of guided journaling topics, join her Momnificent Mom Club community at http://www.momnificent.com