Even before I became a parent, I have heard a lot of parents talking about parenthood as some sort of journey. I didn’t quite understand it yet until I became one. My own experience has told me that the parenting journey starts from Day 1 to forever.
Nothing can really prepare you for parenting. You will find yourself flowing with it, fighting it, questioning it, and even changing it. There is never a dull moment with it as surprises will come in many forms, good or bad. While surviving it can be the main goal for many parents, the actual goal is for parents to enrich their lives with the experience of bringing up children. The interesting part about parenting per se is the fact that the parenting job never really gets finished. You are a parent no matter how old your child gets to be.
For many first-time parents, the infancy stage is probably the scariest phase. Babies look so delicate and fragile. They are so helpless that parents need to do everything for them. It is said however that this is the very opportunity to establish close intimate ties between parent and child.
As a parent, you are the primary caregiver and you should know what to do to take care of your child. While it is very helpful to be equipped with all the knowledge you can find in books on how to best to do this, you will discover soon enough that sometimes you will need to rely on instinct and good judgment. Of course, you will need to know when it is time to ask the advice of an expert like doctors, before you end up putting your child in danger.
Your primary task as a parent during this stage is to be the teacher. Even when your child goes to regular school for his or her education, parents are still the very first and recurring teachers in the life time of their children. Teaching from parents however will come in different forms depending on the age and need of the child.
During the early childhood stage, you must teach your children the basic how-to’s like how to take a bath, how to dress up , how to greet and address people, and all the other things that can help the child start taking care of himself and be socially functional. Your presence as a parent is greatly needed because the formative years are here. Many psychologists believe that the character of the child is formed somewhere along these years and trying to change or undo it after borders on the impossible.
The teenage phase is considered the darkest phase by many parents because of the challenges that come with children asserting their own decisions. The main task of parents during this stage is to be an understanding guide. Parents will have to tone down on “interfering” with a child’s personal affairs. Ask any doting parent and you will surely get answers that this is the hardest part.
This doesn’t mean however that parents completely lost control over the children. The teenage years will require you to exercise parental control while making your child feel that he or she has made the decision and not you. Now, this is what you call the art of parenting. You will need to learn it so you will not lose your child to his or her peers whose opinion actually more than yours, at least at this stage.
Young adulthood is usually the phase where a child has graduated from school, has started to work, and actually making solid plans about moving out physically from the home to live on his own. This is probably also the phase when some parents entertain the idea that they are all done with the parenting job. This is not actually so.
Parents now take the role of a supporter. You may be required to help them spread their wings, assure them of their capabilities, and inspire confidence in themselves. But just like during the teenage years, parents will have to do this artfully, meaning that it has to be done in a manner that the child will think that he is making it happen by his own choice. Some parents are relieved of the financial burden of supporting their children but some may have to wait a while longer while still some seem to be destined to be tied in financially supporting their children all the way. You need to avoid making the latter happen to you as it will not be good for you nor for your child.
So this is it. Your child is now a parent himself. You think you’re done? Not quite yet. You are now the grandparent, the quiet observer/adviser. What exactly does that entail?
You allow your child to bring up his family, his way with some subtle coaching from you of course. Remember the art of parenting? Never forget that lest you become the interfering in-law.
Word of Advice
Even when you find yourself engrossed in parenting, never ever forget yourself as an individual. You cannot afford to put your life forever on hold because parenting is from day 1 to forever. Remember that.