Sunday, June 3, 2012

Three Questions For New Parents

Baby shower truffles.
Baby shower truffles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve attended several baby showers lately for new parents and it brings back memories of when I was in their shoes, blissfully anticipating the arrival of our first child. My oldest daughter will soon be twenty-eight years old and it is certainly cause for reflection on the many difficult decisions that I have made over as many years.  Parenting is challenging no doubt but well worth the many hectic and stressful days.  It is a wonderful feeling to watch children grow into confident, happy, successful adults.  Just as expecting parents prepare for the upcoming birth with a nursery full of accessories, they must also prepare by discussing and developing parenting skills.  Looking back there are probably three questions or situations that parents need to learn to handle in order to come out successfully on the other side of parenting.  

Know When To Say No
Some parents are reluctant to say no or to discipline their children.  Instead they say maybe later, I’ll think about it or ask your dad or mom.  They hope that natural consequences or some outside force will create the boundary so they won’t have to.  Never wanting to disappoint they instead cajole, over explain or simply ignore the dreaded NO word.   Kids (and adults for that matter) need limits and despite their attempts to convince parents otherwise, kids are often relieved when the answer is no.  Parents who never say no are often parents who are trying to be a friend instead of a parent. They are parents who want to be liked at the expense of being respected.  Your child will have lots of friends in his/her lifetime but you are the only parent they will have.  Don’t be afraid to fill those shoes.

Know When To Say Yes
Just as important is the situation that calls for yes.  Sometimes it means yes you can do it, you are capable, you are smart enough, energetic or talented enough.  Sometimes it means that as the parent I am willing to encourage your independence, your ability, your skills even though it will mean that I am inconvenienced myself in order to do that.  Recognize your child’s strengths, nurture and encourage them as much and  as often as you point out their weaknesses and areas they need to work on.

Know When To Ask For Help
Parenting can be unknown and uncharted territory for many.  Our only examples may be our own parents which for some is enough and for others may be seriously lacking as good role models.  As a new parent find other experienced role models or mentors who can provide a caring shoulder to lean on and supportive advice when needed.  Equally important, find someone both you and your spouse can agree to agree with.  One of the biggest challenges of parenting is reconciling different parenting styles which come from our different family backgrounds.  Sometimes it takes a third party to calm the waters.

I’d love to hear from readers; what are the most difficult questions or situations you’ve had to deal with.  How have you handled it?

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  1. "One of the biggest challenges of parenting is reconciling different parenting styles which come from our different family backgrounds."
    That is my biggest challenge. My husband comes from a village/family where children are not important except that they need to be there to help their parents in the future. Children are only fed leftovers of adult's table. Children must always play outside to leave parents alone. They can't have a say, nor participate in any conversation. They must just obey, stay quiet or be away. Girls would start house chores at 5, and boys would help their dad in whatever his job is.
    I love to give other kind of responsibilities to my children. I love them to have their own personality, their own ideas, their own space. I don't really care if their room is cleaned as I want it too. I don't mind if they stay around when we have people visiting. I let them choose their clothes, their friends

  2. Terrific reflection on parenting, Lynne!
    I think the toughest thing for me was dealing with my kids when they would come back from a weekend with dad, the Disney parent. I'd often have to remind them of rules and expectations all over again.
    I'm going to e-mail this article to my daughter so she and her husband can read it.
    Blessings to you!

  3. @Nikky44--I totally understand the difficulty of reconciling these differences. Our family backgrounds so shape our parenting expectations and if we don't reconcile them prior to beginning parenting-then we are forever giving our children mixed messages.

  4. @Martha--Children of divorced parents often have to adjust to two separate households with two separate sets of values and expectations. They can do it (children are amazingly resilient) but it helps if the expectations are clearly laid out for them. Sounds like you dealt with a difficult situation in the best way possible!