Perhaps no other undertaking is as intimidating and as rewarding as raising children. From their first wail as they enter the world until they assume the total responsibility of adulthood, never a day goes by without some self-doubt about "how will they turn out?" The purpose of this article is to provide a perspective and a bit of guidance to consider as you do the hardest and best job you'll ever have.
Different Styles of Parenting
By definition, parenting is on-the-job training with a very steep learning curve. There is a fortune to be spent (or sometimes gained) on "new school" classes, books, DVDs, Internet sites, etc. Many of these sources can provide solid information and support. Historically much of parenting was handed down one on one by the extended family -- grandparents, aunts, uncles, and close family members. This "old school" approach was often a double-edged sword -- broad concrete advice for particular children and particular situations. The unintended consequence, of course, was often unsolicited advice and value judgments. While today's society often has a seemingly overwhelming set of choices for how "to do the right thing," the best advice often is "if it seems right, it probably is." There are often multiple ways to manage a situation or problem. It is very important for parents to remember that children are tremendously resilient and will often thrive in spite of their parents -- after all, we did!
Principles of Good Parenting
Children don't learn by reading the owner's manual. For the first few weeks of life, they study with their eyes; then very rapidly they are capable of reaching and drawing everything toward their mouth. Very quickly they are crawling everywhere to continue this visual and tactile learning process. It isn't until near the end of their first year of life that verbal comprehension starts to play a role in their learning style. Effective parenting, therefore, allows children to develop at their individual pace and manner in a safe environment. While it may be both physically and emotionally exhausting to keep up with them (regardless of their age), a parent's primary responsibility is to foster progressive independence in a nurturing environment. Their child's primary responsibility is to mature so as to ultimately become independent of this loving support system. How something so inherently simple can be so complex and sometimes frustrating is one of life's great mysteries.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/22/2016