Because we all know that anything worth having in this life can be attained with 5 easy, well-communicated, vague truths!
Seriously, the truth is that perfect parents don’t exist. I’m certainly not one, and I feel pretty confident you aren’t either (which makes me really like you a lot more). The real struggles involved with being the best parent and person you can are much more complicated than can be summed up in some easily digested list. Real parenting is kind of unmarketable. No one can walk you through every challenge you face or every weird thing your kid does and how to handle it. At the end of the day you have to understand your child, yourself, and your circumstances and work with the best information and resources you have at hand. Unmarketable truths no one wants to hear is my specialty. So let’s dive right in to the 5 things to remember while you’re being your hard-chargingly imperfect self! *Take all this with a grain of salt from a first time mom with one young child. I’m sure you mothers of many can and will school me.
1. Love, Love, Love, and more Love
It’s really obvious conceptually. We’ve been hearing about how important unconditional love is for healthy psychological development and attachment. But, this is a gentle reminder that love from a parent to a child takes on all forms. Yes, a lot of it is communicating that love “I love you!”, hugs, kisses, and smiles. But, love also means saying “no” because something is unsafe or allowing them to work through frustrations on their own because that’s a valuable skill. Or it could also mean giving them space and alone time to spend time better understanding themselves. How we love our children takes many forms.
2. Don’t Make it a War
I see so many articles espousing one parenting technique or style and denigrating the others. They all tell you that you need to pick one and be consistent. Align yourself with one parenting philosophy and stay dedicated! First, don’t do this to yourself. It puts so much pressure on you to be right before you even start implementing a sleep philosophy, or a feeding philosophy, or discipline, etc (you get my point). This is really impossible, give yourself a little room and flexibility to figure out what’s best under the current circumstances with the kid you have. You don’t want to be changing things up on them constantly, but kids can handle some change. Second, don’t put your kid on the other side of a discipline battle. You are on their side, even if you don’t agree. We are their advocates, even against their own foolish impulses.
3. Find Friends and Allies
Allies are people who agree with your parenting philosophies, which makes play dates easier and less fraught with potential friction. It’s also nice to spend some time with people and not have to defend yourself or feel tense about serious differences of opinion.
Friends are people who you have and care about in your life regardless of their viewpoints and opinions. You need people who you care about AND disagree with. It’s how we keep perspective.
4. Start Believing in Redemption
I hate to break it to you, but we are all deeply flawed. Oh wait, I don’t hate to break it to you. I’m actually at the point in my life where I am just a tiny bit gleeful about the realization that we are all deeply flawed. This means, that despite our very best intentions some of those flaws are going to rub off on our kids. And despite our best efforts at damage control it will affect them as they mature. If you start believing in redemption now you’ll handle those phone calls from adult children much better later in life. (Also, if you haven’t forgiven your own parents for stuff, now might be a good time to work through that.)
5. Tell Everyone and Their Expectations to Shove It!
Probably don’t actually tell them this to their face unless the circumstances call for it. For the most part, people mean very well with their terrible advice and their inappropriate judgement. We really can do little to stop the unsolicited advice from rolling in. We can however, refuse to give these voices a forum in our own heads. Sit down with your spouse, your partner, your parent, or yourself (whoever is helping you raise this little hellion) and talk about what you really think 1) your child needs and 2) you can truly give them. This is really all that matters.
So there it is. 5 super duper easy steps to being the most perfect parent alive. Which is what we really all got into this parenting thing for in the first place, right? To be perfect parents?