To loosely quote a line from the quintessential 1989 movie Parenthood, “You need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any a—hole be a father.” What Keanu Reeves’ character was pointing out is that there is no official training, no required education, no sanctioned guidelines and no formal rulebook for how to parent.
During pregnancy women often take numerous classes and consult a plethora of resources for what to expect and how to create a birthing plan. The truth is that pregnancy and birthing are both natural processes that will happen on their own regardless of how informed you are or how well you plan for it (and chances are things never go according to your plan anyways).
Gathering information and planning for your future helps you to feel more informed, in control and empowered for the unknown. But learning tools on how to parent – aside from learning how to swaddle, tips for getting your baby to sleep through the night, and when to start getting on wait-lists for the top desired preschool – is not what most parents take the time to do. Though it is extraordinarily difficult to seamlessly transition your marriage into parenthood while simultaneously redefining your entire self-identity, most parents learn on-the-go how to raise a child.
And, here is a little known truth of parenting that no one tells you: you are not raising a child.
In fact, your job as a parent is to raise a well-adjusted, secure adult; a happy childhood is a bonus! However, the tools to effectively and skillfully raise this little person do not magically emerge through you at the same moment your child takes its first breath of air and starts to cry. Parenting with insight, skill and efficacy is not something that comes naturally for most, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. We parents, despite our best efforts, are only human after all, rather than the superheroes we often strive to be.
Another truth is, and it is a cliché to say it, that parenting is the hardest job that you’ll ever have...
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