10 lessons my children have taught me as a parent
Believe it or not, kids do take part in the process of raising an adult into a parent. I’m sure many of you reading this, who are parents, at one point or another have felt that becoming a parent means you’re officially an adult of another class. An adult that is now a part of a “club” if you will, that brings you a step up the ladder in life. And to tell you the truth, you are! It’s an honor to become a parent. But what happens to us when we are awarded this privileged responsibility is something we don’t expect. Reality sets in. Life as you know it takes a turn into a different light. In majority of the cases, this new life is for the better and people adapt and learn how to be good parents, but that doesn’t always happen. Raising a child means raising a human being, with real feelings and opinions. And believe me, they will give you their opinions whether you like it or not.
10 (of many) lessons my children have taught me that no book or piece of advice from anyone could have prepared me for.
I remember the day we brought our first born home. What a CRAZY feeling that was. From the moment we strapped her into the car seat, to the second we brought her through our front door, this new feeling was so surreal. We officially had a baby in the house and WE were the parents. That meant she was here, in our home, depending on us. WE were now responsible for this little helpless human being living in our home. This was FAR from babysitting. She was home. With us. Forever. It was kinda scary. But leave it to our little bundle of joy to let us know when she needed to be fed, burped, changed, put to sleep or played with. Oh they’ll let you know when they need you alright.
2. Don’t judge other parents.
Fast forward 4 years later and my husband and I are completely different adults. That much I can say. We used to be “those” people who kept quiet about what others were doing with their children and how they were disciplining them. Once we got home, however, we were like…” did you see what so-and-so did to their kid? Oh my goodness, we would never do that!” or “that will never happen to us because we’re going to have our kids in check.” Sadly, we said those things and I am almost embarrassed to admit that. But the truth is we didn’t know any better because raising children is so far off the couples manual that you cannot foresee what your life will be like with kids until you actually have them. And you will not know what it feels like to have your child throw a tantrum in public or tell you “NO” in a stern and loud voice after a long and hard day. That’s when remorse for those other parents I used to judge settles in, and I regret opening my mouth.
3. Following your instinct isn’t always the best idea.
Children WILL tell you how it is. They will let you know how they are feeling in any way that matters to them only. And if you don’t like it, you will instantly get a feeling in your gut that prompts you to respond in whatever manner your childhood memories and parental instincts can conjure up. The problem is sometimes you don’t know how to respond, but you feel like you have to. So you say the first thing that comes to you and pray it works. You ARE the parent after all. Right? When it doesn’t work though, things go downhill from there and you’re left wishing you would have thought of a better way to respond to your now inconsolable child – screaming in public for all to hear. This is when you learn what not to do again and come to terms with the fact that parents make mistakes too, and on occasion are wrong. That’s one hard lesson to swallow, trust me, I know.
4. When in doubt, pause your thoughts and reassess.
Sometimes reacting on instinct can make a bad situation worse. Sometimes it’s better to just pause your thoughts, stop what you are doing, and really look at what’s going down. For example, do you really want to get into an argument with your three-year-old because her fashion statement isn’t up to par with your more “sophisticated” standards? So what if she wants to wear tennis shoes with striped leggings, a pink tulle skirt and glittery purple top. It’s not like you’re going to a wedding! If you are I apologize and sympathize. Good luck with that. On any other day though, who cares! Ask yourself, are they putting themselves or anyone else in danger? Are they disrespecting anyone, vandalizing property, breaking any rules, cursing you out? No? Then what’s the deal?? Relax! Defiance purely means “Listen to me please, I’m trying to tell you how I feel about something”. So listen up! Assess the situation. Respond calmly. Repeat.
5. They love to hear “I Love You”
This one should be number one but there really is no order here. The message is what matters. Seriously, they can’t get enough of hearing “I love you” from the people who mean the world to them. They need that. At least twice a day. More is better!
6. Patience is a virtue some people have to learn (or be taught).
My oh my do they test our patience. Lose your patience though, and you’ll most likely regret your actions later all on your own. I cannot tell you how many times I have been guilty of this. Losing my patience. I guess you could say it builds character. Kids do an amazing job of building patience into your character. It takes longer than it should though. I’m still learning in fact. Learning to maintain my composure and practice being more patient is a wonderful feeling that enlightens me to be a better parent each day. Patience is a virtue some people like me have to be taught and my kids are doing a great job of this.
7. Young children have a short attention span. Very Short.
You’ll know you’ve lost a kid in a conversation when they change the subject or start to gaze in another direction. In most cases this happens at around 3.25 seconds. 4.75 if you’re lucky, so make it quick.
8. Sharing is overrated (in my opinion).
Let me ask you this: When was the last time you shared your favorite jacket with your sibling? How about your car? What would you say if someone told you to take turns sharing your car with your younger brother? There would definitely be some hesitation, right? Let’s say you do start sharing your car with your brother and he brings it back to you with a scratch on the fender, zero gas, or a tear in the driver seat. Then what? Would you still feel like sharing your car because it’s the nice thing to do? Heck No! It’s yours and you have the right to say no. Right?! Kids don’t have that right it seems. We ask them to share their toys, they say “I don’t want to,” because they know no one will love their toys as much as they do. I get why kids don’t want to share their favorite toys now.
9. They don’t like to be alone. Ever!
This is especially true for the littlest ones. If you think living together (meaning you and your spouse or significant other) was tough in terms of respecting each other’s space…you have a fun surprise coming if you don’t have kids living with you yet. An invisible magnetic forcefield magically appears between you and your baby when they arrive. They are ALWAYS there….following you. First with their eyes, then on hands and knees, then one day they get up and always somehow walk toward your direction. These kiddos made me appreciate girls night out real quick!
10. A parent’s job is never done.
Just when you think you got this parenting thing down and are finally getting into your new routine, a new phase begins. You want to know why? Because they don’t stop growing, and changing, and depending on you to help them through these dramatic physiological changes that are occurring in random growth spurts. One day you’re sitting on the couch swinging them on your legs singing “row, row, row your boat,” the next day they’re asking you to play Justin Bieber on Pandora while you’re stressing about what elementary school you’ll be enrolling your soon-to-be five-year-old in for next fall. WTH?! Where did the time go?? Can we slow down, please? A parent’s job is never done I tell ya. We are always on the go, ready to learn. That’s all for now.
So tell me, what are some things your children have taught you?