22 Mar
2017
Posted in: parenting
By    1 Comment

If Only There Was a Parenting Guidebook

This morning my youngest son asked what the hardest part is of parenting. It took me a few minutes to decide. Not being able to fix heartbreak. Not being able to fix injuries. Watching time slip through my fingers. Making sure everyone feels listened to and treated fairly. All possible answers. The one I gave him: there’s no guidebook.

Sure there are plenty of books on parenting. I remember with our oldest flipping through “What to Expect the First Year” and finally donating it. I was obsessed with what to expect at every month milestone and what was “normal.” I decided very early on to go with my gut, which really translates as winging parenting.

The book I need is one with a detailed index on how to address everything I could possibly encounter. A bullying problem at school, page 56. How to raise a happy sports loser, page 422. What to do when you’re kid wants to quit, page 532. How to know your child is ready to date, page 1,056. Is your daughter ready for a solo dance routine, page 722. You get the idea.

family photo in snowy Grand Teton National Park

There are times I don’t want to be the adult. I’m not comfortable with what’s going on. I have no experience. I feel ill-prepared. I want to find the nearest adult and have them tell me what to do. I want to check the index and follow the step-by-step guide. I’m excellent at following diagrams and directions.

I’m blessed to be surrounded by people of varying talents, gifts and personalities. There’s the friend that will bring me chocolate. There’s the person who doesn’t care that I messaged him after hours for direction. There’s the person I never text, but replied promptly when she knew I needed advice and needed it then. There’s the friend who isn’t going to cry, but doesn’t care if I do. There’s the friend who will pray and not dig for details.

People stand in place of my nonexistent book. Someone has been there. It’s not a diagram, but it’s guidance. Parenting is a series of firsts for the parent and the child. Our four children have required different parenting tactics for first experiences from that mean kid in class to that winless sports season. Each step has been different depending on the child. I find comparing notes with my parent friends invaluable. It’s a relief to find someone who has been through where I am and made it through whatever phase I’m in. Recently witnessing the power of rallying together in support on this parenting journey has made all the difference for our family. While a guidebook would be easier to follow, I’ll take other involved parents willing to share their experience, time and friendly ear.

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1 Comment

  • That was so well written. Sometimes all we need is a deep breathe to get through and sometimes I ask for a time out gather my thoughts. Thank you for sharing your experiences.