When you start having children, it seems like parenting advice is being shot at you from every direction, even that random bloke from the grocery store has some words of wisdom to shed on the newbie parents. However, our most reliable source is often our own parents. While it’s true that my mum and dad taught me plenty, there are 5 things I wish they had mentioned.
1. Parents Make Mistakes Too!
As a child growing up, I idolized my parents. I trusted them in every way. They knew what was best for me and I seldom questioned it. Yet being a parent myself I find myself making all kinds of mistakes. My biggest mistake so far was forgetting to pick my daughter up from her after school activity. I was thirty bloody minutes late! My parents never would have forgotten me. They never made mistakes! But realistically, my parents did make mistakes. They were just better at hiding them. Parenting is not a science. It doesn't come with an instruction manual or a play by play book. You just have to follow your instincts and accept that you are human.
2. It’s Okay To Let Your Kids Fail.
As my daughter learned to ride her bike without training wheels, I was glued to her side. I wanted to be her safety net so she wouldn't fall. My actions were only hindering her from learning. She became so frustrated she almost gave up. I had to make myself step back and let her do it on her own. After falling three or four times she had begun to gain confidence in herself and learn to ride her bike. Kids need to fail sometimes in order to learn how to do things right. As parents we hate seeing our kids fail at anything. Nevertheless, failures and mistakes help kids grow and learn.
3. You Can’t Plan Every Situation.
While I was pregnant I read every parenting magazine, every book, and even asked my mum a million questions. I thought I was the most prepared parent ever. My mum never told me that you can’t plan everything. Things will happen. You child will say, think and do things that will baffle you. My daughter once was stung nine times by a wasp that got caught in her trousers. At first, she was just screaming and hopping around. I didn't know what was wrong. But then I noticed her yanking at her pants, and I checked her legs. Sure enough, she had a line of stings all the way up her legs. She had never been stung before. I didn't know what to do and I panicked. I thought I knew everything there was to know about parenting. This experience has made me realize parenting isn't always found in a book or in our Mums’ best lectures. Sometimes, you just have to experience it.
4. Your Child’s Doctor Doesn't Know Everything!
This one may shock you, because we put so much faith in our doctors. Doctors don’t know everything and just like everyone else, they make mistakes. Always make sure you ask plenty of questions when going to the doctors office. This reminds me of my friends second baby. She had an awful time feeding him. He spit up everything. She took him to her doctors and explained what was going on. The doctor assumed her son was have a bad reaction to breast milk and put the baby on a special sensitive formula. My friend went home satisfied with the doctor’s decision. A few weeks of trying the new formula proved it wasn't working and her son wasn't gaining weight. She took him to the hospital, where she learned her son had a birth defect where the passage from his stomach to the intestine was very narrow, most of the food couldn’t pass through and he needed surgery. This situation could have been resolved early on. Yet she trusted her doctor’s answers, never questioned it and went home thinking she had all the right answers. The truth is doctors don’t know everything and can only treat what they know. So please ask questions and give them as much information as you know. There is no such thing as too much information.
5. Not Everyone Will Like Your Child.
This is the hardest one for parents to swallow. We love our children unconditionally and believe that they are the smartest/prettiest/funniest/friendliest kids. And why shouldn't we? We want to believe everyone will like them but the truth is, some classmates, teachers, or even parents may not like your child, that’s okay. Accept it for what is and reassure your child that he/she is amazing. It’s not about the quantity of friends, it’s about the quality of friends!
6. Parenting is Permanent.
As a parent you will never stop loving or worrying about your kids. As a young mom, I thought my job was to raise my child into adulthood and then my job would be done. The problem with that is, as a mother you never stop wanting to be there for them. Parenting starts at birth and never ends. The roles you play change as they get older, but they will always need their parents.
Parenting can be taught by many sources, even from our parents. With all the technology, and books we have you would think that it is a well mapped out procedure, but it’s not. No amount of advice from anyone source will prepare you for everything that parenting entails. Trust your instincts, follow your heart, and thank your mum and dad often!