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Being a parent is hard. It’s made even harder because there are some lessons most parents only learn from experience. Learn these 10 now and you’ll be off to a good start:
1) Most Advice Won’t Apply To You – You’ll get tons of advice from well-meaning people, many of them parents. More than half the time, their advice won’t be applicable to you. Remember, there is no “right” way to be a parent and very little advice is universal – and yes, that includes some of the advice in this column!
2) Family Traditions Are Powerful, But They Take Work – Few things bring and keep a family together like family traditions. What no one ever tells you, however, is that keeping and maintaining family traditions takes a lot of work. It doesn’t just happen on its own. In order to get the most out of this force for family unity, you have to work at it. Year in and year out, keeping traditions alive is up to you.
3) Get On A Schedule – It can’t be stressed enough: having children is a schedule-buster. Raising kids will throw your life into the best kind of chaos. It’s important to harness that chaos and keep it under control, though, and one of the best ways to do that is to maintain a schedule. Get up at a certain time, establish a bed time, have dinner at the same time. Maintaining this small bit of focus can help you better handle the (wonderful) chaos surrounding it.
4) You’re Not Molding Them, You’re Helping Them Discover Who They Are – It’s an all too common mistake to think that when raising a child, you are molding a future adult.
That’s not quite accurate. It’s more accurate to say that you are helping them discover who they are. There is a very important distinction between the two.
5) Things Will Go Wrong – This simple fact of life is especially true when it comes to parenting. No matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, things will go wrong from time to time. And that’s okay.
6) Tiny Babies Take Up A LOT Of Space – Babies may be small, but traveling with them is like traveling with two adults – and that’s no exaggeration. The stereotypical parent has a minivan for a reason: they need the room.
Strollers, blankets, changing bags, supplies, and more will mean that when traveling with a small child, you’ll be traveling with a lot of stuff. Be ready for it.
7) Everything You Do Will Be “Wrong” To Someone – Again, there is no “right” way to parent, except perhaps with love. Rest assured that almost any parenting decision you make will be seen as the wrong decision by someone.
There is no one-size-fits-all way to raise a family. Feel secure in doing what is right for your family and let others do what is right for theirs.
8) Sometimes, You Won’t Be Able To Handle It, And That’s Okay – Your life as a parent will be filled with love, accomplishment, and pride, but what many parents won’t tell you is that sometimes you will be overwhelmed by responsibility, too.
Sickness, fears about the future, a misbehaving child, financial worries – these things can pile up FAST, leaving you a nervous wreck. That’s okay. It’s perfectly normal. This too shall pass.
9) Love Hurts – The old cliché that love can be achingly painful is only a cliché because the feeling is so common. Sometimes, your love for your child will hurt.
This will be especially true as you watch them grow up, as they leave for school and make friends and become increasingly independent. None of these are bad things, but they will hurt.
10) Encouragement And Indulgence Are Two Different Things – As a parent, you are tasked with encouraging your child to reach their full potential. Many parents, however, get encouragement confused with indulgence.
Remember that these are two different things. Your role is not to indulge their every whim, it’s to encourage their positive whims.
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School is right around the corner. Be prepared!