- Parenting is a life-long learning process and no one ("experts" included) has all the answers. Hitting
on the right solution or parenting strategy is a matter of trial and "error." And even when you do all the "right" things,
your child may not respond the way you think she should. It often seems that by the time you figure out a good way to handle
something, you're on to yet another challenge.
- Everyone makes "mistakes." Every parent has ups and downs and no parent gets it all "right." Fortunately,
most children are quite flexible and bounce back quickly. The challenge for parents isn't to do things perfectly. Rather,
it is to see your mistakes as opportunities to learn about yourself and your child. Over time, you'll discover what works
and what doesn't.
- Parenting can be very stressful. Learning to recognize when you are about to reach your boiling point,
and developing strategies to step away from your child before you boil over is critical. This may mean putting an inconsolable
child somewhere safe, like a crib, and taking a brief time-out.
- All parents need support. The fact that we need support is not a sign of inadequacy. It just means
that parenting is too hard a job for any one person to do alone. Knowing when to ask for support, and giving yourself permission
to ask for it, doesn't come easy to many parents. It might mean asking a partner, or trusted friend or neighbor to watch the
baby while you take a well-deserved break. It might mean taking a walk to visit a friend, or getting a reliable and competent
sitter or relative to come over and "share the care." Another option is calling or visiting a parent support center. And remind
yourself that, in fact, babies benefit from building relationships with other people they can trust to care for them.
- Take care of yourself and your important relationships. Taking care of both your needs and the needs
of your child is a difficult balancing act. Most parents are inclined to let their own needs slide as they attempt to do everything
and be everything for their children. But the truth is that taking care of yourself-physically, emotionally and spiritually-as
well as the important relationships in your life with your partner, friends and family is crucial for the healthy development
of your child. Why? For starters, because your child will grow up with a parent who models the importance of loving relationships.
Beyond that, the important relationships in your life make you feel good. And when you feel good, you have more energy for
your child, which makes him feel good about himself.
- Your feelings matter. Being a parent can bring the highest of highs
and the lowest of lows. One minute it seems you are deeply in love with your precious child as she gives you an ear-to-ear
smile. The next you are frustrated and despairing as you find yourself confronted with a full-blown tantrum after telling
your two-year-old, "No, you can't have a lollipop for dinner." There is no right or wrong way to feel. What is important is
that you recognize and accept how you are feeling. When you know what you feel and why, you have more control over your reactions
and can choose how to best respond. (Zero to Three, "Learning and Growing Together: Understanding and Supporting Your Child's
Development," by Claire Lerner and Amy Laura Dombro. .
You may also want to try calling a toll-free hotline for support, advice and
National Parenting Information Hotline: 1-800-583-4135 Child Help USA: 1-800-422-4453