With five weeks to go (give or take), I am working my way through a rollercoaster of emotions on a daily basis – anxiety, excitement, apprehension, happiness, fear, elation – just to name a few. If you have been there you might recognize some of these. Then there is the big question – we have a fresh start so how do we make sure that we are good parents to this new little human as well as continue to do our best parenting work for our four-year-old son at the same time?
What really is a good parent anyway? How can that even be defined? Who can even really know the answer to this?
Upon reflection I have some ideas and although I am no expert (I mean who is?) I am hoping my ideas and good parenting thoughts might encourage you to nod and smile as you sip your tea and read along.
Parenting is the hardest and most challenging job in the world. It is also the very thing that takes you to your depth – of character, of love, of emotion and of sacrifice. There are a million tips and tricks out there on how to be a better parent, but I believe it comes down to one thing – trust.
Trust yourself – trust your instinct, trust that you know what is best, trust that what you believe matters and trust that the love that you have for your child really is enough as long as it is love that motivates all your actions and decisions.
I often worry about what others think – I always have. Since becoming a parent four years ago, I have found myself in many situations trying to make a parenting decision based on what I think others think, rather than what I believe to be the best decision for our son and our family. A tantrum in a shopping center is the perfect example. They throw themselves on the ground, screaming and kicking and we instantly think ‘what must other people think?’ It is hard at the moment (I get it) but at that moment you have to trust that you know what is best for your child, for you, for the long-term and for your parent-child relationship. At that moment, try to push the ‘worrying what others will think’ out of the equation. Two types of people will be watching the tantrum unfold anyway – those who have no experience in parenting and those who understand and are simply relieved that this particular tantrum does not belong to one of their particular children.
Our son is a sensitive child. He loves people and yet when too many are around he can get silly and cheeky and perhaps a little excited. He is yet to watch an entire movie as he cries when characters seem sad or get lost or can’t find their mothers and we often have to fast forward to the happy ending. Then the other day, we were listening to a song in the car (You’ve Got a Friend in Me) and he told me he was feeling sad about growing up and leaving home one day.
He is four!
I know all this about him. I understand this about him. I spend my life making myself aware of who he is – not trying to make him into someone else, or encouraging him to change the way he is – I get him. Upon reflection, I believe that good parenting is knowing who your children are and trusting that they have been created perfectly to be exactly who they are. Trusting that, as you parent their uniqueness, the world will be a better place for having them here. Trusting that, whom they were born to be, was for a purpose and that we are merely guiding them to become a better version of that.
The incredible thing about this parenting gig is that we often don’t have to do this adventure alone. I love the old African Proverb –‘ it takes a village to raise a child’ and it is my hope beyond hope that no one has to do this adventure alone. Look around you and find your village – your spouse, partner, family, friends, neighbours, and teachers – find the people you can trust and lean on them. I am blessed with a fantastic husband who also turned out to be an amazing Daddy. It isn’t always perfect though and we often have different approaches and ideas about things when it comes to parenting. He is the fair and gracious ‘give a lot of chances’ guy and I am the ‘I have told you once’ kinda gal, however in all our differences we have learned to trust each other. Trust your chosen village and trust that they are motivated by love for your children too, trust that they have been chosen by you for a good reason. As someone who personally likes control (ahem!) this was a hard concept for me to grasp. In saying that, I now understand that I cannot be nor should I be, the only influence on my children and whom they will grow into and become.
Finally, trust your child. They are a creative and incredible tiny human and they have so much within them just waiting to flourish. We can sometimes feel that we have to do everything for them and be in charge of their every move. This is not the case. They have the potential to do more for our world than we ever will and we have to trust that they can grow, be independent, take the next step and perhaps know more than us some days. Trust them enough to respect this and you will feel the benefits of parenting them, long into the future.
You were made for this. Made to parent your children for a time such as this. They were given to you as a gift. Trust that. There is no pressure to be perfect because you were made to be theirs’ which is perfect enough already. Trust the love in your heart and the instinct that tells you what is best. Do this and you will see the beauty of good parenting unfold.
Enjoy the journey and embrace the adventure.
Author: Shannon Crozier (copyright)