Friday, April 4, 2008

Why Every Parent Needs to be Educated

My job as a parent is to ___________ my child.

Go ahead. FILL IN THE BLANK. The only rule is that you are only allowed one, and only one, choice. What one word would you use to complete the sentence above? Already, in my head, I've been struggling with choosing from over a dozen possibilities.
"Every single day of parenthood forces us to juggle the practical along with the ineffable, to strive for connectedness along with autonomy, to quarrel and question and, in the end, to let go." - Anne Pleshette Murphy (Blindsided by a Diaper)
My job as a parent is the most demanding, challenging, frustrating, exciting, rewarding and powerful role I could every take on. If anyone told me (I think they did but perhaps I wasn't listening) exactly what parenthood would be like, I wouldn't believe them. I wouldn't understand because you can never truly comprehend what being a parent really means until you're there; looking at your little child who is not taking NO for an answer.

I've been working for the same company now for seven years and, although I had many other jobs prior to this one, I don't recall any job that I had that did not require some sort of training. Why should parenting be any different?

People joke about how easy it is to make a baby. There's no application to fill out, no fees involved in the actual creation of a child (unless you calculate the bar tab at the end of the night). But seriously, why is it that new parents are expected to sit through birthing classes and learn how to change diapers and perform CPR on infant sized dolls yet there are no requirements on having to take parenting classes? After all, the infant stage is over before you know it, but parenting is FOREVER.
"A baby, it turns out, is more permanent than a tattoo."
- Michael Finkel (
Welcome to the Babyhouse)
When I became a new mom, I struggled with trying to be the best mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, and role model I could possibly be. I was convinced that I could do everything myself, even without my husband's help.
I feel sorry for those " to be better fathers than their own dads but who felt criticized by their wives every time they even tried."
- Amy Sohn (Confessions of a Sugar Mommy)
Now that I realize that many families face the same challenges and issues behind closed doors, it's much easier for me to forgive myself. And I find myself warning every parent I know so that, hopefully, they won't make the same mistakes I did.
"The Who Has the Harder Job? Show had begun - and it ran for more seasons
than I care to count. Inevitably, we both ended up losers."

- Susan Maushart (Where the Bruises Are)
And I lost big time. I lost my husband, the family that I created and my sense of identity had to be completely redefined.
"...babies begin to smile at exactly this point - six to eight weeks in -
as a matter of survival...this is also the time parents stop smiling at each other."
- Nicholas Weinstock (Being a Baby)
I was introduced to the Redirecting Children's Behavior class by, none other than, my ex-husband. Our son was going through a terrible stage (as we all were) and all three of us were frustrated, exhausted and emotionally bankrupt.
"...he loved [our son] with an over-the-top abandon that he never showed me."
- Elizabeth Larsen (To Jealousy and Beyond)
My ex-husband and I each took the five-week course - separately - and slowly implemented the skills and tools we learned in each of our homes. I noticed a change instantly. Not only was I feeling less stressed, but our daily routines were going much smoother, we were laughing more (and crying less) and there was an overall sense of hope that embraced my son and I as we worked on improving our relationship by simply adjusting the way we communicated with one another.
"...just as children fundamentally alter the nature of marriage...
children affect the end of marriage even more profoundly."
- David Elliot Cohen (Life Sentence)
I don't know where we'd be today if it weren't for the RCB program and the information, support and encouragement I received from the class. I'm an instructor now myself, and if there's one piece of advice I could give to parents, whether they're expecting their first baby or already have children, it would be this: educate yourselves, share your stories, support one another, Make Time for Yourself and laugh often. You won't regret it.
"...if couples can find ways to talk openly -
with each other and with other couples - about the changes they're encountering,
they'll be better equipped to navigate the challenges."
- Dana Bedford Hilmer (editor, Blindsided by a Diaper)
To learn more about parent education and the types of classes and workshops offered, please visit the Happy Healthy Hip Parenting website.

*Each author quoted in the above post has an essay published in the recent book, Blindsided by a Diaper: Over 30 Men and Women Reveal How Parenthood Changes a Relationship)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great blog! At this stage in my
life the word I would choose to
fill in is SUPPORT. Keep up the
good work.
Love, Grandma S. :)