Someone Told Me Raising Kids is Easy
Updated: Apr 26, 2021
For all parents, or parents to be, could you imagine if this statement were true? Ha! Let's face it, raising kids is hard work. As the saying goes, "It takes a village" and I completely agree.
If there are people out there who believe raising kids is easy, I'd have to question whether they have kids or simply have a staff member who does most of the work for them. It makes me laugh out loud at the thought of it being easy. Then I get the urge to sip a glass of wine (ok, ok, drink a glass of wine until the very last drop), shake my head and role my eyes.
My beautiful miracles are 3 and almost 5. I am by no means an expert on parenting, but I do have some thoughts/advice. Here are a few things I've picked up along the way in my short time as a mom.
It's easy to look from the outside in and think things like discipline your kids, don't give in, or distraction is key. If only it were that simple.
People buy books on how to raise their particular breed of dog and go to puppy/dog training school, but assume they don't need training as a parent.
We struggle with our own shit, so why do we try so hard to mold them into the same pile of crap?
Since this is my blog post, I figure I can write about what I want, at least for now. So let's dive into each of these a little more.
Number 1: I have no kids or my kids are older, so I bet I know better than you
Watching your niece for the weekend is far from knowing what it's like to raise a child. So, I suggest you never, ever take advice from someone who actually has no hands on experience. On the other hand, a teacher without kids is not a good example of someone who has little experience. Some might not be parents, but they have a ton of knowledge to help support parents.
This topic also brings to mind those who have older kids and want to pass on their "knowledge". Great, share some tips like organic pasteurized honey will work better than any other cough medicine for kids under 12-months old. Awesome!
Tell me, "Oh, when my son was X age, we used to give him a toy when he was upset. It's a great distraction. Here little boy, here's a toy."
This actually happened to me at the grocery store. My son was 2.5 years old. He was crying, because I wouldn't let him hold the Christmas wrapping paper, as it was dragging on the ground. He was still so small (heart melting now). Instead, I offered to have him carry something else or to help push the cart. He wasn't having it.
He's also a highly sensitive child, so we tend to treat his outbursts with more talk, signs, hugs and support. We still make our mistakes, but it's a learning process. Anyway, while we were waiting to pay, a lady in the line decided she just had to intervene to "save my child from his tragic despair." Honestly, he was crying, not losing it.
She handed him a toy from her purse and basically told me how I should be handling the situation. She was around my age (40 at the time) or slightly younger, but looked at me with sad, this-is-a-teaching-moment-for-her eyes. I, on the other hand looked at her with fury and a sarcastic smile (my personal development state was only in it's infancy, so the feeling of wanting to smack the lady was strong).
Even though I politely thanked her and asked her not to hand the toy over to my son, she completely ignored my words and only looked at me with a smile and said "See, he stopped crying. Now he feels better."
At this point, there was nothing I could do that wouldn't include setting a bad example for my son. I spoke to him about not accepting toys from strangers unless mommy says it's ok.
But, come on, don't intervene in someone else's parenting unless there is physical or mental abuse or you have something really significant to contribute. Where you went wrong is also helpful, so we don't make the same mistake, but not the I-know-better approach.
Number 2: When I get a dog I'll buy a book. When my child is born, I'll know instinctively know what to do.
Bullshit! After being woken up 4-6 times a night for 3 straight weeks, I'll tell you right now, you'll have no frigging idea what to do, expect to have the urge to sleep. I even fell asleep on the floor once (ok several times, probably waking from the drool dripping out of my mouth).
When we get a dog, we are totally open to suggestions on books and training schools. When we have kids, we assume we'll just know what to do. The thought of learning how to raise a kid isn't something that crosses our mind. If someone even mentions a parenting book or 10 times worse, a parenting course, people take it personally, like they are being judged as not fit to parent.
Becoming a parent is the toughest job... EVER! It plays on all your senses, emotions and character traits. All of them.
When you get a dog you take lessons. When you learn to fly a plane you get trained first. When you start a new job, at the very least you have an orientation day. When you have a baby... nothing.
There is no real preparation for the challenge that is parenting, when it comes to not having enough sleep or singing the same song 43 times in a row or repeating hide and seek 27 times while your child hides in the exact same spot every time and you show surprise each and every time (Note: these numbers are estimations. For the exact numbers, count how many times YOU do these two repetitive tasks). It's tough. And then to add to it, your children have no clue about how you feel... nor should they.
Kids are these precious little gifts. I love mine to bits and pieces. There is no way I would want my life without my babies, not even for a second. After having 5 miscarriages, I know what this loss would mean. But it's frigging hard sometimes. Getting some professional advice and training in raising your kids only helps support you to not lose your shit on more occasion than one.
Being that my son is highly sensitive, my husband and I had no real clue how to deal with some of his tendencies or ours as a result. We read a lot online about how to support him, his little sister and us in certain situations, but it wasn't until we took an actual parenting course that we really learned how to parent him and our daughter.
Yes, we still screw things up, but in our favour, we're more aware of our mishaps and can correct them much quicker.
This brings me to point number 3.
Number 3: Dealing with our shit, so our kids don't have to.
It may come as a surprise to you, but how you were raised will significantly impact how you raise your children, unless you deal with your shit. If you don't, you'll simply dump your pile of crap onto them.
We all have some not so great memories as kids. These memories, along with the good ones of course, set the foundation for how we will develop and behave as adults, and eventually as parents.
If you have a voice in your head telling you you are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, etc. or you have a dominant or insecure characteristic, all of this will dump over onto your kids.
There's a piece of a poem from Philip Larkin I love and it makes me laugh a little when I say it.
They mess you up your mom and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they have.
And add some extra, just for you.
We knowingly or unknowingly pass some not so good things on to the next generation. Generally speaking, we tend to pass on more positive than negative. Thankfully! But if you notice you're not living the life you truly want (you're settling, hating your job or simply unhappy - even a bit), you're not in the best health state that you would want for your kids or your outbursts are something your kids see regularly. Chances are they will develop pretty similar patterns.
If you do decide to dig deep, you and your kids... and your partner, will all come out much happier and healthier. Plus, they won't end up reciting poems like the one above. Oh, it makes me laugh.
It's not easy raising kids. Not by a long shot. My suggestions are stay out of other people's parenting unless it involves the safety of a child or you have some real solid advice. Learn how to parent like you would learn how to raise a puppy or fly a plane. And lastly, do some work on yourself, so you can become the person you want to be and the type of parent your tiny (or teenage) human needs.