- 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 referrals:
National Parenting Information
Help USA: 1-800-422-4453