If you are in a serious relationship, you will find that after a time there are certain pressures that may present themselves to you. These will vary depending on your culture, your family relationships, your peer group and what they are doing as well as your own personal goals and desires. What am I referring to? I’m talking about the role of parenting.
I have talked to many parents over the years, I have helped raise other people’s children, I have also been a full-time father and a part-time father and have also successfully raised my two sons to adulthood with a fair degree of success and there are certain truths that I have learned along the way.
One of the first things that I have realized and that I try to tell all parents that I meet so they don’t feel like they are under too much pressure is this. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have. Children don’t come with an operation manual, there is no amount of preparation to make sure you do a good job and the biggest thing to get your head around is that you will not know if you have done a good job or not until they are in their early to mid-twenties.
Imagine twenty plus years of effort, working on a project, that comes with a massive amount of time, effort and finances invested into it, only to find, in a worst-case scenario, that it has not worked. Or imagine your relief that it has actually worked and you can stand proud and say, look what I have achieved.
The reason it takes so long is that as a child you have a reasonable amount of control over their actions and attitudes. Once they become adults, they are freer to make their choices and learn the consequences of their actions. This is when you can find out if all your years of effort in raising them have been effective and raising a child who has evolved into a capable, independent, contributing member of society.
Conversely, you can witness their unwillingness to be responsible, to own the consequences of their decisions and their desire to contribute to society. It can be heartbreaking but it doesn’t have to be.
The responsibility of being a parent is a massive choice to make and depending on the external pressures of your culture, family and peer group, coupled with your own wants and desires, it can be a decision to make or break you. I could write at some great length about the pro’s and con’s of parenting, the stages of child-rearing, the benefits how to’s of discipline and many other things.
In this article, I just wanted to make you aware of the decision that exists about choosing to be a parent and should you choose to go down that path, that it is a big job and can either be a journey that can leave you proud and shouting the praises of your child from the rooftops or struggling to understand where it all went wrong and how you can fix it.
In parenting, there are no guarantees as you are dealing with another human being and as we all know, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. You can, however, utilize the wisdom of people who are crazy and brave enough to take this journey before you.
Ask your parents about any tips they may have because they will love the fact that you respect them enough to ask. Just be prepared for the “I remember when you were four and you…” stories. Listen to them tell their stories, dig for the advice and listen attentively. At the end, decide what fits for you, your goals as a parent, your partner’s goals as a parent and how it all fits in your life.
There are many variables, but if you ask your family, other parents who seem to be succeeding, and read some good parenting books (yes, there are some) you will see there are commonalities that link the successes and commonalities that highlight the damaging aspects that send kids careering down the wrong path. Trust your own judgment, because you know you and what you would like to achieve.
Know that you will get unsolicited advice, you will hear the horror stories, you will encounter the children that seem out of control, but listen carefully and pay attention and you will discover the gold that will make it easier. Notice that I said easier, not easy. Parenting, no matter how well you do it, will occasionally tear your heart out, have you terrified (think teenagers) and leave you scratching your head.
Get it mostly right and your heart will just about burst with pride, you will feel brave and courageous and you will have some of your own tips to pass onto the up and coming parents.
A personal experience that perfectly illustrates this, is that many years ago I was a scout leader. On my first night, I had a young lad come up, a tall, lean lad named Ashley. His opening words to me were “I have ADHD!” I looked him straight in the eye and said: “No, you don’t!” He seemed a little taken aback but still seemed convinced that he had the condition.
Over the next four years of being their leader, the same scenario unfolded at the start of every camp. His mother approached me, a worn-looking woman who seemed perpetually on the edge of a meltdown, and handed me a small envelope, informing me that his medication, allowing for one a day was in the envelope. I would thank her and as she turned, would place the envelope in my pocket where it remained.
Ashley and I had an agreement where he would behave and if it looked like he was getting agitated, he would take his medication. I informed him that if I noted his agitation, I would place my hand on his shoulder and ask if he needed his medication, to which he would respond with a yes or a no.
I only had to use this method once and in over six camps had no problem with Ashley including a fortnight-long jamboree, where he had no medication whatsoever and was probably the best behaved of all the children there, which would have been around fifty.
When I had finished my time as a leader and was on my last night at the hall, Ashley walked up to me, a number of inches taller as a 14-year-old and said: “I know that my mother only gives me the medication because she can’t control me.” That broke my heart, that a young man who gave me virtually no problem, was such a challenge to his mother. As a son, he would have been great, but due to his mothers lack of effective parenting tools, she struggled. A real shame. I haven’t seen him in nearly ten years but I hope he is doing well.
As I mentioned at the start, there are certain truths that I have learned in my journey as a parent of my own children and those of others, observing others and what did and didn’t work, as well as reading quite a number of books, some worthwhile, others not so much, and I have noted some truths that worked for me and appear to produce results for my clients and other people I have given them to.
If you would like a copy of my parenting rules/ guidelines/suggestions, then click HERE to download a free copy. It is a quick guide and if you would like to learn more or learn what I know, then feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how I can help you. Also, I will probably learn from you as well. I’m always happy to learn more.
Keep up the good work and do your best.