the 6 most uncomfortable parenting realities
I enjoy speaking with parents at workshops, most of which focus on issues such as using praise, time out, or selective attention. However, I’ve acquired a somewhat problematic habit over the years---saying things that turn off most of the audience.
It’s easy to talk about discipline techniques, but it’s tricky to openly discuss some uncomfortable realities about being a mom or dad. Here is my list of the top six things that are rarely well received.
1. Don’t make children your highest priority. It’s a serious mistake to make your children the center of your universe. You need to take better care of yourself and spend lots of time with your spouse. Is it essential to attend all of your kids’ sporting events or play performances? Mentally healthy kids learn about compromise and caring by seeing that their parents don’t put children on a pedestal and cater to their every whim.
2. You can’t control how your kids turn out. Most parents work hard and sacrifice many of their dreams to care for another life. You’d like to think that there is a relationship between what you do, and what you get. While parents have lots of influence, great parents can raise bad kids. That’s hard to accept.
3. Kids are a serious threat to your marriage. It’s not right to blame kids for their parents’ divorce, but children are a major stress. First, marriage partners need superb skills in negotiating, cooperating, and compromising to work out the myriad of parenting issues that you’ll need to resolve with your spouse. Second, spending lots of time with your children means less attention to your partner. Your marital relationship cannot be put on hold until the kids get older, but should be your highest priority to be a good parent.
4. Accept being uncomfortable. There are many times when great parents are confused, uncertain, and conflicted about figuring out what’s best for their children. You need to accept living with ambiguity, acknowledging that there are not always easy answers to questions about what’s the right thing to do. If you like an orderly and predictable world, don’t have children.
5. It’s all on you. We look to experts for direction in how to fix our freezer or care for our car. Children are a bit more complicated, and ultimately you’ll need to be confident in making your own decisions rather than relying on others.
6. There is lots of satisfaction and pain. An incredible sense of fulfillment is accompanied by times of intense sorrow. Celebrate the former, but be ready to accept the latter.