Tips for new parents
To parents, kids are a delight. And perhaps for them, no feeling can top the ones generated by a genuine hug from their child, or by the soft utterance of mama or papa from a toddler's clumsy tongue.
But all parents should know that parenting, like life, isn’t exactly a bowl of cherries. We’d actually be failing to honor parents everywhere and neglect to acknowledge the real essence of parenthood, if we only talk about the cheerful stuff of child-raising, and omit the difficult realities. It’s actually helpful to realize that parenting has a hard side, as this knowledge can act like a cushion from the shock, the exasperation, and the inevitable pains that come with the role. It’s also somewhat reassuring to know, you’re not the only one suffering from the downside of parenthood.
Here are some blunt pointers:
You’ll never perfect it. You’ll never feel you’re absolutely on top of things. There’s no learning curve to chase. It’s all going to zoom past you, that by the time you’re a master at burping a baby, it’s a done phase. All your expertise on diaper-changing suddenly becomes meaningless in a flash. Even after you’re first child, the next one is usually so different in character or development pacing that whatever you’ve learned won’t necessarily apply.
It’s best that you treat it all as an experience, an adventure, an expansion of your consciousness. Let it be a hands-on training on human behavior. Make it an immersion on the art of writing children’s books or listening to kids’ music. Treat it as a crash course on first aid or how to cook really fast, and under pressure.
Get used to multi-tasking. The demands of a child will make you run in circles, squares and octagons. Once you have one thing done, here comes another. It’s an unending cycle of feeding, diaper-changing, bathing and bedtime. Parents holding careers or are caught up in a business project will find it impossible to “finish” parenting tasks first and then shift to their career tasks. To transcend the mind-boggling overlap of schedules, one will find the ultimate solution: multi-tasking. Write down an itinerary while feeding the baby cereals, literally jotting down items on a pad in between spoonfuls. Go for errands to the hardware or specialty supply shops while taking the baby on a stroll. Pick up the materials of your kid's science project on the way home from work. Once you realize you can’t truly segregate your time, you’ll learn to be resourceful with it. Then you learn to go with the flow, like swimming with interchanging styles every three or four strokes. To be a parent, and insist on having a one-track mind will be the end of you.
Helplessness as a parent is normal sometimes. Every parent, of course, has the safety and happiness of their child in mind. But sometimes, it just can’t be helped. You can’t have a direct iron-clad control over every circumstance, whether at the playground or at home. Your kid can be bullied or ostracized by a peer group, or saddened by a show on TV. And sometimes, you can do little about it.
You’d be amazed, however, at how resourceful you can be in finding solutions. From searching through threads in the internet to chatting with a friend who’s had a similar experience with his or her child, acquiring more information on the matter is always a good first step. Also, putting up a communications group between parents and teachers, or neighbors, so as to alert concerned parties on kids’ problems, or to inform on their programs and schedules, is one proven course of action that’s kept many bad elements in check.
We’re people. We’ll find ourselves helpless in situations sometimes. And so we look for help…from others.
You can’t erase and rewind. There are no replays to parenting. There'd be times you’ll say and do the wrong things. It’s like this in life, but particularly in parenting a child with whom you’re making a lot of decisions in a snap at any given time, and the consequences of which could be big or small, forgettable or permanent. We simply have to train ourselves to meditate before we commit to anything. We should learn how to filter what we tell our children, not letting anger or work stress get in the way of our responses to them when they ask us things. It’s a humanizing experience, so it’s quite in order to apologize for our mistakes if an apology is appropriate, and then move on, because your child, too, will grow and move on.
Bye Bye, privacy. Face it…your kids will see catch you with your pants down, or see you dispose a tampon, sooner or later. You will lose your privacy to your kids. What you can do though is teach your kids patience, self-sufficiency and the importance of privacy as they grow. This way, you can eventually start locking the bathroom door, or make them respect a request not to barge in.
Overall, there’s really no certain way for you to know whether you did a good job as a parent, until maybe 20 or 30 years after. So perhaps it’s best to just take the whole parenting thing with a grain of salt. Just remember that every decision you make, whether for disciplining your child, or to have a fun family bonding, has a corresponding consequence, though not usually as momentous as many would think. You might be able to have an idea as to how things are going while you raise a child, but you won’t really know what sort of person you helped mold until your offspring’s already an adult. And maybe that’s what’s great about parenting…the mystery, the suspense. Parenting, for the most part, is winging it, with all your time, hope, love and money, on someone who isn’t really you, and can’t really be you, but then will always have a part of you.