Tell Don’t Ask
I think one of the things that bugs me the most about parents is that they ask the opinion of their children whom are not even in 1st grade. Sometimes the kids haven’t even been out of diapers for long. So my advice as a child education specialist for over 15 years, is to make decisions for them. Don’t ask if they want broccoli or if they want to go to the bus stop early. Give them the healthy food and decide what it will be. Take them when they need to be there, not when they want to be. Of course you can ask them if they would rather have a Spongebob bandaid or Superman, they do need to feel that they have some power, but not over the important things. YOU are the parent. They are a child and you are not being disrespectful by teaching them. You are helping them to become good citizens who behave properly and understand rules. In turn, they will be pleasant to be around. They will not constantly try you because they know they can’t. It works! I promise!
There is Give and Take
What I am talking about here, is that you are going to give a lot. And they are going to take a lot! And it doesn’t end anytime soon. You will cook for them all day long every single day. You will: change diapers, wash clothes, heal boo boos, pick them up, teach them things, deal with their tantrums (hopefully not many), clean up after them, drive them everywhere, cheer them on, and so many other things!! And, when they become a teen, they will roll their eyes and think that you are overreacting and ignore many things that you say, but they will still need you. And it will feel awesome. There will be times when you feel so unappreciated and they will break your heart into a million pieces. like when my daughter ignored my bday because she was so busy with school. But then they will write you an email, or mention you in a paper, or make a card and you will realize that though they are MAJOR takers, that because you are a GREAT parent, they will become good givers at some point because you are a kick ass example.
They Are People Too
Yes when they are little they can’t speak or walk or properly articulate their feelings or emotions. And oh my gosh, it can be so freaking frustrating when they don’t sleep or act super cranky for what seems like no reason. They have been changed and fed properly and have been given oodles of attention. They are safe and warm and well taken care of, so what gives??? They are exploring the world and they are trying to put together pieces of a huge puzzle within their little brains. They are learning a language, they are learning to use their hands and feet and how to interact with people. They are discovering new things like television and their siblings cool toys and your phone.:) And I know it is frustrating as all get out sometimes, especially when they can’t fully express their feelings. But they aren’t just babies or toddlers or preschoolers or preteens/teens. They are people. They have good and bad days like we do. They don’t feel well sometimes and don’t know how to describe it. Talk to them like you would a good friend. And smile and try to understand even when you want to pull your hair out.
There Will Be Great Days
So, I have done a good job of highlighting the hard parts, because no matter how much people want to sugar coat things, parenting is tough. There is no training. It is part innate and part instinct and part trial and error. On those days that seem so lonely because no one else could possibly understand what you are going through, realize that as they get older, it will get easier. You will have fun! Conversations get better. You get to see your child’s personality develop and it is pretty cool. You will go to lunch with them and it’s like you have a little friend that you helped create, to go places with. You can take them to movies and they will start to get the jokes and can sit still and enjoy the experience with you. You will start to take them to activities and see them try out different things and determine where there strengths and weaknesses are. Also you (and they) realize where there talents are and get to see them develop them and it is pretty cool! So at some point, maybe not today, you will have amazing days with your kids and they will eventually outweigh the bad.
You Will Be a Team Eventually
It seems like most of your time as a parent, you are a one person team (if a single parent) or a two person team (if you are lucky) and you are managing your child, but they are their own entity and not even close to understanding the adage “there is no I in team.” And that is okay. As aforementioned, you are grooming them and modeling behavior for them, so they are not going to pull their weight for quite sometime. Not just in regards to chores or picking up toys, but being a fully invested member of the family. It will one day happen and you will surprised in a huge way. But again, it is something they have to see in their parents or other family members. They can’t just figure it out on their own. If you constantly reinforce that your relationship with your spouse (if you have one) and your other children (if you have more than one) is important and it takes the effort and input of everyone to maintain and be successful, then your child will want to step up and be a part of the gang. I tell my daughter all the time that we have to work together in order to make our family a success and that part of doing well is communicating and considering each other in all that we do.
Hope that these tips help you to navigate the tricky path of parenting…