Yes, it is a 24/7 job; it definitely changes your lifestyle; it is financially demanding, and, at times, it is just plain tiring. But that really isn’t what makes it so frustrating and challenging. The really difficult part is that it holds us to a higher standard of behavior. Because we want our children to be happier, healthier and more successful than we were, we want to provide them with parents that are capable of nurturing these super beings. But that requires us to look ourselves in the mirror and confront our own shortcomings. We have to learn to manage our feelings better than we ever have before. If we are lucky to have a partner to share the responsibilities of raising a child, we must learn to work more cooperatively and consistently than we thought we ever could. We are constantly trying to figure out how to handle new and challenging situations, and relearn when the approach we tried doesn’t work. We are also continually second guessing ourselves when our children do not react the way we had hoped. When our children do well we think they are amazing people. When things go really wrong, we blame ourselves totally.
In some cases, we actually have to change our personalities and attitudes – become a new person – so that we can meet the needs of our children. For example, we know that children need love and affection, and that it must be shown. For people who do not express their emotions easily or are not physically expressive, they must learn to hug, tell their children that they love them, and be able to express how important their child is to them. Not all parents are successful in making this transformation, and their children do suffer from their inability to express these feelings, but if unsuccessful, the parent feels guilty about the deficiency in their character. Whatever our weaknesses are, they become glaring as a parent. If you are short-tempered, shy, have poor communication skills, unorganized, a poor money manager, engage in unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking or overeating, you are most likely to transfer them to your children. This is just the sad truth. And we know it. Good parents confront their demons, change for the sake of their children, and continue to try to do better each day so that their children will have a better chance in life.
How many people would willingly put themselves through such a process? The truly amazing thing is that many people undertake this commitment everyday. Some are more successful as parents than others. Unfortunately, there are those who really are bad parents. However, the vast majority of people who decide to have children, undertake this lifelong commitment with enthusiasm and happily make whatever sacrifices are needed to be the best parents they can. They cherish their children and despite all the challenges, feel that parenting is the most rewarding experience of their lives. Why? It isn’t just because they have developed loving relationships at a depth never experienced before. In fact, most parents will say that until they had children, they never understood the true meaning of unconditional love. It is because parenting has required them to grow, learn, and become better individuals.