Written by Mary Tracy, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Curriculum
“In spite of the six thousand parenting manuals in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything. You just need a lot of love and luck—and, of course, courage.” —Bill Cosby
Parenting is hard work. There are moments that are filled with great joy and pride. There are moments that are filled with frustration and heartache. Adding to that angst are the thousands of books that share the ‘best’ way to parent or the countless pieces of advice intended to help us along this unchartered course.
The only thing that really IS certain is there is no perfect way to parent, no single solution to circumvent problems that may arise. Parenting has those moments in which you could hit the Staples button declaring “That was easy!” However, more than likely, it has far greater moments when you’re feeling unsure of how to proceed, worried, scared, or filled with guilt. Those feelings are the reality and certainty of parenting. No one is immune and not one of us gets it right all of the time.
However, there certainly has to be some peace in knowing that we’re trying our very best. That very best requires a few things from us, which include:
Love- loving your child for their strengths and weaknesses so that they will love us in OURS.
Advocacy – being the voice of your child when they may not be able to speak for him/herself, so that as adults they will want to help others and see the value and need for community service.
Modeling – knowing their behavior is shaped by our unspoken example and that our words don’t mean as much as our actions, so that when they become adults they contribute in a way that reflects integrity and kindness towards others in all endeavors, not just when someone’s watching.
Confidence – the ability to ‘fake’ it in the moments when you’re not quite sure how to proceed because it’s more important to make our kids feel safe, both emotionally and physically, so that when they are adults, they are able to move confidently within their world.
Accountability – the ability to know that there are choices and consequences for those choices, so that as adults they realize that success can only be experienced from having learned from failure. They will experience both.
Forgiveness – the ability to forgive ourselves because parenting is hard work. We will and do make mistakes, but ones that were rooted in love, so that as adults they are able to forgive just as readily.
There are no perfect prescriptions for parenting. It’s like anything else…it comes with joys and challenges and requires heart and our very best effort. That is all that we can require of ourselves and one another. That’s what makes it such a worthwhile endeavor. Maybe that’s how all those parenting manuals should start and end: “Parenting…you are presenting the world with the very best part of you. Handle with care, both yourself and your child.”