From getting pregnant to effectively handling the stages of childhood and even keeping a marriage together through it all, being a parent today is a full time occupation. Of all the occupations in the world, none are as challenging or as rewarding as raising a family. The journey is one of self discovery and personal development. The lessons learned are some of the most important you will encounter. The heartaches come, as do the blessings. If you survive through your family problems, you will earn a sense of satisfaction unlike anything you could imagine.
Women of all ages struggle with pregnancy. For some, a pregnancy may be unplanned. For others, pregnancy is a miracle. Some women struggle with carrying the baby to term. 1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Even more have issues with infertility. Tubal obstructions, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cysts are all causes of infertility in women. Overcoming infertility can be an expensive, time consuming challenge. It is becoming more and more rare to find a normal pregnancy where everything happened from start to finish as it was planned, if it was even planned at all. But in the end, no matter how they get here, there is a reason babies are called a “bundle of joy.”
Once the baby is born, especially a first child, parents often find themselves overwhelmed and underprepared. The unknown is always scary and nothing is more so than a brand new baby. Its life is in your hands and you realize you have no idea what you’re doing. The crying, the colic, diaper rash, and worrying about the terrifying Sudden Infant Death Syndrome can give a new parent many sleepless nights. In addition to all the worrying, newborns rarely sleep through the night. You can always tell a new parent by the sleepless zombie gaze.
Eventually you develop a routine with your newborn and get to know its wants and needs. All of that is about to change. As your child becomes mobile, they move into the toddler stage. At first this is an exciting time. New parents get excited about the baby’s first steps and the real words the baby starts using. Then your toddler learns the one word that will change their life and yours – no. This is their first taste of free will, and boy do they choose to exercise it.
This can be an intensely stressful time for parents. Temper tantrums, fits, and refusing to cooperate are how the word “terrible” became attached to the word “twos.” The terrible twos are when boundaries are first recognized. Patiently learning communication skills is your most valuable asset in getting through these family problems. Once they have settled into their boundaries, the toddler years become an exciting time of discovery. As a parent, you get to see the world again through the eyes of your child.
As your child develops, you’ll notice that they mimic things around them. They’ll act like characters from books and television. They will pretend to talk on the phone and say the exact things you do. Conversation skills develop. And somewhere around age 8, they begin seeking their own independence. It’s not that they’re trying to break away from you (that comes later in the teen years). What they’re really attempting to do is define who they are. This is a crucial time for a parent to learn when to and when not to enforce boundaries. Of course you want to protect your child. However, at this point they need to be allowed to make their own mistakes so they can start to learn how to handle them. They also need to learn to be accountable for their actions.
By the time your child reaches the teenage years, if you haven’t already invested in some form of parenting education it is time to start. Once they hit the teenage years, your child has the reasoning skills of an adult without the life experience to back it up. That can make for a challenging time for both the child and the parent. It’s not uncommon for a sweet and loving child to grow into an abusive child when they reach the stage when hormones rage rampantly and social pressures put them into a position to make hard decisions without the experience to back them up. They will develop emotions that they don’t know how to express or control. You can help them through this time, but you could use some help yourself. With some patience and a bit of understanding, your child can finally grow up and you can look back with that sense of satisfaction mentioned earlier.
From the time the child is born until the time they can be considered an adult, you are their number one role model. “Do as I say, not as I do,” is not something you’re going to find in any book on parenting. It makes us accountable for our actions, just as we expect our children to be. Having children can make you want to be a better person. Overcoming the challenges of raising children and dealing with family problems builds your own self-confidence. You give so much to your children over the years. If you’re paying attention, they’re giving back to you as well.