Have you ever tried to fly a plane? Ever replaced a transmission on a truck? How about removing a brain tumor?
For most of us the answer is no.
Also a likely “Nope” for:
Dry-cleaned a skirt
Raced a race car
Built a house
Replaced a tooth-filling
Most have never even considered trying these activities because we don’t know how. We recognize there is a certain amount of skill that is required to even attempt these things, let alone reach any level of proficiency or expertise.
We leave the important things to the experts.
Well almost everything. There is parenting.
It’s a funny thing, this skill we call parenting. We seem to assume that if you have the means to acquire an actual child in your care, you should just know what to do. You know, because you were a child once. And YOUR parents did such a great job, of course you know how to do it.
Not to worry, if you get stuck somewhere with parenting there are plenty of books, blogs and experts who can help you through it. Let’s see what happens?!
It’s like flying a plane. Jump in there and if you get in trouble just phone a friend.
Well actually it’s nothing like that. Most things are nothing like that, but that’s how we treat parenting.
In reality parenting is one of the most challenging activities that most of us will ever be asked to do. It requires enormous amounts of patience, sacrifice, focus, emotional strength and willingness to fail.
And all of that gets you through the first couple months. After that, good luck.
Not only is parenting a challenging skill, it is a staggeringly important one. I could list all of the statistics that would tell us children raised in unhealthy homes incur great economic, social, employment, and emotional problems later in life. I could tell you all the struggle a child is likely to have and all the problems they will later inflict on their own children. And the generations of pain that will follow. I will instead focus on something simpler.
Nobody wants to be a bad parent.
We often hear “You’re such a good mom” or “He’s so lucky to have a dad like you.” Our language reveals that we know parenting is a specific skill and that some people seem to have it and others don’t.
The problem is, unlike flying a plane, knowing how to be a good parent isn’t a prerequisite to actually being one. However much like flying a plane, most anyone with a certain amount of training can learn to do it.
Parenting is a skill you can learn. It is a talent you can develop and improve upon. The first step is reminding yourself that you don’t just know how to be a good parent because you have a child. It requires study, self-examination, and lots of learning. The good news is that there are lots of resources. Sometimes the right book, phoning a friend, or simply watching what others do can go a long way. And yes, you may even get desperate enough to call your own mom. She did after all, do enough to get you this far in life and sitting here reading this blog.
Also remember there are people that teach parenting for a living. People that understand the biology and psychology of children’s behavior and can be great resources for parents who want to be better. Malama Pono has a great team of parent coaches that would love to help.
Think of it like flying. We’ll be your co-pilot.