A New Normal
Updated: Mar 5, 2020
For most of us, having children is an essential part of our life plans. Going to school, starting a career, getting married, and having kids. It’s safe to say that many of our paths look something similar to that. Somewhere along the way, we start to picture how many children we want. How many years apart we think they should be. And of course we all think about the names we like and don’t like. There just seems to be an undeniable draw – call it paternal and maternal instincts – towards parenthood. For many of us, we already know how important it is for us to be parents. We know we love children and we know how special, unique and indescribable it is to have a little piece of us becoming his or her own person. We know and have seen how beautiful children are and how wonderful it is to see them growing, learning, being adorable and giving their parents unlimited love and pride.
The above invokes a beautiful image, no? Okay, but now how many of you can also relate to this: Have you ever seen anyone – maybe yourself – frustrated, tired and lost because they don’t know how to deal with the behavior of their children? Maybe the question shouldn’t be “have you ever seen...” but rather “how often...” Let me be clear, we still love them more than anything in this world. However, we often struggle to find the answers, desperately trying all the ideas and methods we are familiar with in order to address the daily challenges. Let me be a little more specific and see if any of these sound familiar:
* My child is so clingy and needy. I’m always exhausted and never have time for myself.
* My house is a mess! I'm too tired to clean after my child and I just find toys everywhere.
* Once my child starts misbehaving, I can’t get him or her to stop. I have tried everything!
* My child is such a picky eater, sometimes I don’t know what to feed him or her.
* Bedtime is a nightmare! Sometimes our routine takes hours!
* I am torn about the use of electronics. I don’t want to give them to my kids, but everyone does and they're just so helpful to keep them occupied sometimes.
And because nearly everyone has had experience with children in some capacity, pretty much everyone feels qualified to give you advice and even judge the way you raise your children. Of course we want the help others offer, but we can also find ourselves in a situation where we have so much advice we don’t even know where to begin. Also often is the case that we are very aware that our parenting strategy in the moment of chaos is not right, but we rationalize to ourselves – “Hey, you gotta pick your battles.”
One of the main issues here is that pretty much every parent in history has gone through all these same challenges. This makes us believe that all of this is “normal.” It is just part of being a parent, right? This is what you have to put up with when you have kids. The love they give is well worth the headache, right? They call it the “Terrible Twos” for a reason, right? But I truly believe that this widespread acceptance of the struggle to parent a little one as “normal” is half the problem.
But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way. That being a parent doesn’t need to be this hard. That instead of exhaustion and frustration, you can have a very smooth enjoyable routine with your child? This doesn’t mean you will stop facing challenges. Far from it. However, what if you were adequately prepared for these challenges? What if you were ready to guide your child by following his or her needs? What if you knew how to set the perfect home environment to allow your child to be independent and successful while making things a lot easier for yourself? What if you knew how to observe your child and how to act and talk to obtain positive results? What if you had a way to discipline your child that felt easy to maintain and didn’t make you feel like or your child see you as an angry person?
All this to say: we need to stop thinking it is “normal” to feel tired, frustrated, and hopeless while parenting. This doesn’t have to be part of the journey of being a parent. You can set yourself up for success from day one. And if you are already going through these challenges, you can still get yourself on the right track. This will make both you and your child happier and offer more opportunities to enjoy each other's company and the experiences you share together.
In the blogs that follow, I hope to offer practical, realistic advice that helps you properly prepare for these challenges that too many parents just accept as the way things are. And maybe together, we can all start to create a new normal.