Expecting? Just a head’s up: kids don’t come with a manual. I know, we’re in shock as well. For any expecting parent, it could be a daunting task to read up on everything there is to know about raising a child. It shouldn’t be complicated though. Here at TheGetWell, we will walk you through 7 things you absolutely need to know about parenting. Sit back, relax, and keep scrolling!
#1 Books are good in theory— but application matters most!
If you’re reading this, you’ve also probably read a couple of books about parenting and what to expect when raising a child. While that is certainly great preparation, books can only take you so far. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to parenting- it all depends on you as a parent and the type of path you would want to steer your child in. We understand that new parents have that incessant need to take in as much information as they can but too much preparation can lead to unhealthy habits. Research published by The Atlantic claims that parenting books mixed with procrastination can add to the mother’s stress, and heightens the chance to develop postpartum depression.
Pediatrician and best-selling author, Harvey Karp, claims that trial-and-error is a much more realistic and feasible way to raise your child. As we said earlier, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You have to try, and fail, and then try again to develop a parenting strategy that works for you and your child. Developing an obsession to know everything there is to know about parenting is not only impossible, but also downright stressful. Make sure to take a breather here and there and trust your instinct more than anything else!
#2 You need to know that it’s okay not to know
As a first time parent, no one expects you to know everything there is to know about raising a child. We put too much pressure on ourselves to get as much information as possible and learn about things in such a short period of time when, in reality, each parenting technique is unique. As we mentioned above, we put too much emphasis on reading books to better prepare us for what’s coming without really asking ourselves if everything we’re reading would actually work. At best, books are suggestions for best practices. There really is no way to find out what works or what doesn’t until you’re actually doing it. So to the parents that are expecting, don’t beat yourself up! It’s okay not to know everything.
#3 Be involved
This might be the most important thing that you need to know as a first time parent. Being involved does not necessarily mean that you have to be by your child’s side 24/7, it’s about paying attention. Pay attention to what your child best responds to, pay attention to the things that he/she likes, pay attention to what irks him/her, pay attention to the interests that he/she is developing. In addition, you also have to pay attention to your spouse/partner. If you notice that he/she is having a hard time, don’t be afraid to suggest things that have worked for you. You have to put in the hours to be involved. However, seeing your child grow knowing that you, as a parent, know him/her better than anyone else is a priceless experience.
#4 Adapt Adapt Adapt
Being involved in your child’s development lets you adapt to whatever parenting might throw your way. We cannot stress this enough, there is no manual or template or “how-to” that would exactly tell you what to do with your kid– you have to adapt! For instance, your parenting when your child was 3-4 years old might not work now that he/she is 11-12 years old.
Just like yourself when you were younger, your child is undergoing development and is forming his/her own way of thinking. The answer? Make sure to listen when they have an opinion about something. Their opinion may not be the same as yours but listening would go a long way. This teaches them that they should always show respect even if other people have differing opinions. Your parenting should serve as the foundation of his/her emotional and intellectual growth. Let your child figure things out by themselves with your guidance.
#5 Lead by example
It’ll be easier for your child to listen to what you say if they see you practicing what you preach. For instance, the concept of manners can be easily explained to your child when he/she hears you say please and thank you on a regular basis. Leading by example does not have to be some elaborate scheme that involves you changing your whole personality, you just have to be more conscious of your actions now that a little one is looking up to you for guidance. Our best advice is to start with the little things like showing courtesy, being kind to family and friends, complimenting people, respecting the elderly, and so on.
When the time comes that your child asks why you do those things, be sure to have an answer that they would completely understand. For example, if your child asks why you held the door for the person behind you, make sure to explain why in the simplest of words. You can tell them that holding the door for any person is an act of kindness and that being kind is a great trait to have.
#6 Pick your battles
Most parents have the same problem: pursuing perfection in their child. Don’t get us wrong, we have the utmost respect for parents that want only the best for their children. We are merely pointing out that you can’t fight every battle that comes your way. Learn how to pick your battles! In saying this, we mean that not everything needs to be “corrected” or “set straight.” Keep in mind that your child is a human being that’s capable of learning and evolving on their own. Being able to figure it out for themselves, without your help, builds character and builds a solid foundation for them to realize right from wrong.
#7 Become your child’s constant
As a follow-up to point #6, you also need to be your child’s constant. And by constant we mean constant in everything. Your child will definitely try and figure things out at their own pace and in their own way but when they’ve exhausted all efforts, make sure that you are constantly there to support them and help figure things out.
Notice how we said help them figure things out? This means that you should be able to steer them in the right direction without paving the way for them. It’s perfectly fine to hold their hand in their journey but please don’t carry them in your arms and do the hard work for them.
Parenting is definitely the constant search of finding the happy medium. Do you want to be a friend to your child? Do you want to be a parent? Do you want to be somewhere in the middle of a friend and a parent? There really is no concrete answer. However, if there’s one thing that we know is true, it’s this: “Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” – Anne Frank