Long hours, vague job description, no factory manuals and a neverending shift make parenting the toughest job on the planet. It's also a role that no one is ever truly prepared for. Just when you think you have things figured out, the unexpected happens.
Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Parenting Books (John Wiley & Sons, 2004), shares with us the things that no one ever tells you about parenthood.
"As a mom of four...I thought by the time I had baby number four, that it was going to be a cakewalk," Douglas said. "But every time, it is a different journey through parenthood."
The truth about parenting
1. There's no job description
Even though there are always plenty of people in your life willing to offer unsolicited advice, Douglas says, their experiences with parenting are not necessarily going to apply to your experience. So you have to learn it each time from the ground up yourself.
2. There's no "perfect age"
Sometimes we have this tendency to want to fast-forward through our kids' lives, Douglas said. We think it will be easier when they start to sleep through the night or when they start school for the first time. "We forget every stage has its joys and challenges," she said.
3. Nothing is predictable
So where do you get the advice to make parenting decisions? Talk to all the other parents in your life, Douglas advised. Pick the ones that are sensible, that you trust and that you know aren't going to tell you what to do. Tap into the parent grapevine and the wealth of knowledge that's out there.
4. Parenting is easier on TV
It can be frustrating to watch the television family discover the perfect solution to every family problem in a mere 30 minutes or less. But Douglas always tells people it's not as easy as it is on television. In real life, things get a little messier and sometimes parents blow it. But in real life, she said, you can rewind the tape and play it out differently with your kids.
5. Parenting is long-term
Parents often bring their own baggage into the parenting process, sometimes reacting emotionally to certain situations. If you find yourself going overboard, or coming into conflict with your partner, your reactions may be knee-jerk and unproductive. There is also the potential issue of both you and your partner having conflicting sets of baggage.
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