When parents bring their first little one home from the hospital, everything is new, and maybe a little scary! Before long, though, you settle into a routine where changing diapers, regular feedings, and sleepless nights become part of the rhythm of everyday life. Because you're good parents, your baby rarely has to cry very long before you change, feed, and comfort her. That's basically what parenting is during the baby's first 18-24 months--running when baby calls!
Once she's a toddler, everything changes! She's upright and mobile, grabbing everything in sight--she is in charge and loving it! You're loving it, too! It's so entertaining to watch a toddler--until it isn't! Toddlers have learned from experience, if you want something, just yell, and mom or dad will come running!
Toddlers are notoriously irrational, and very easily frustrated. If you don't know the First Lesson of Parenting, you'll be constantly trying to understand what she wants--even though half the time she herself doesn't really know what she wants! The First Lesson of Parenting isn't how to change a diaper, or how to get your baby on a sleep schedule, or whether breast or bottle is best. The First Lesson of Parenting is that your baby cannot be the center of your family.
As precious as she is, she was never intended to be queen. It's your job as parents to remove her from the temporary throne you've built for her; you were right to build it--it was your job to make other things take a back seat to her needs. But now that she's upright and mobile, she needs you to step in and lead! The roles MUST reverse, so that mom and dad run the show from now on!
The First Lesson of Parenting is that your baby cannot be the center of your family . . . The roles MUST reverse, so that mom and dad run the show from now on!
She won't like this change! She liked being queen, and would rather spend the rest of her life giving you orders and having you jump! However, a person can only really grow up if they recognize: 1) they aren't in charge of everything, 2) they don't know everything, and 3) the world doesn't exist to make them happy! Sadly, as we all know, not everyone grows up!
So what do you do with the First Rule of Parenting? What does it look like in everyday life?
First of all, it means you have to be a real grown-up.(See above)
1) Recognize there will always be things you can't control.
2) Admit you don't know everything.
3) You know you won't always be happy--no surprise there--but being a parent also means that sometimes you're going to have to make your child unhappy. Yep. Because remember, making your child happy all the time has to end when they're 18-24 months old, for her own good and the good of the family.
. . . a person can only really grow up if they recognize: 1) they aren't in charge of everything, 2) they don't know everything, and 3) the world doesn't exist to make them happy!
Your child needs your unconditional love, which means you do your best to consistently provide her with:
Security, through boundaries, rules, correction, routine--and keeping your word
Confidence, by teaching her responsibility, thoroughness, and hard work
Resourcefulness and creativity, by only giving her some of what she wants, but all of what she needs
A healthy sense of self, as you teach her to honor God and respect people
Parents, you are older, bigger, and wiser than your children for a reason. God intended for you to lead and instruct them. Don't be afraid of making them upset! Don't be afraid of their disapproval! Focus on the kind of adults they will become.
And don't be afraid of making the "wrong" decision. Most decisions aren't life or death, and you can trust that your worst decision will probably be better and wiser than your child's, simply because you have experience and a perspective that she can't possibly have.
Parenting is the best, most potentially rewarding job there is! If you don't feel confident, or parenting is getting you down, call me for a free 15 min. chat! I'd love to offer you encouragement and hope!