I have learned that there are very few undeniable truths in life. What is true for you may be arguable to me and vice versa. After spending eight years looking for advice from others on everything from breast versus bottle to disposable versus washable to teaching boys to pee sitting versus standing, I have finally discovered what I believe to be three undeniable truths about parenting.
Truth #1: I don’t have all the answers, and I never will.
I could have 100 kids and that 101st would blow all my assumptions away. All it takes is one kid that is gifted or special needs or ADHD or shy or lazy and suddenly everything you thought you knew is proven wrong. All the “I will nevers” come back to slap you in the face. All the judgment and the lines in the sand, all the things you swore you’d never say or would never do, all of those “bad mommy” labels start haunting your dreams. Perhaps it is the first time you hear yourself say, “this hurts me more than it hurts you,” or when you find yourself buying one of the backpack kid leashes, or perhaps it is when you catch yourself allowing your 15 year old to date even though the rule was always 16… sooner or later all parents realize that they don’t have all the answers. But there IS good news…
Truth #2: No one else has the answers either, and they never will.
Your mom doesn’t know how to raise you kids, nor does your pastor, nor your neighbor, nor that famous parenting author. Your pediatrician doesn’t know either which is evident in the fact that in 2004 I was told to ALWAYS put my newborn daughter on her back, in 2005 I was told to ALWAYS put my newborn son to sleep on his belly, and in 2008 it switched again. The same is true for pacifiers, thumb-sucking, co-sleeping, and immunizations. There is a reason they call it a medical practice… even the experts are still learning.
Truth #3: Every kid will need therapy eventually.
Last but not least, you should know that your kids are going to need therapy for something they think you messed up. Some will think their parents spoiled them, some will think their parents were too hard on them, some will think their parents discipline wrong, some will think their parents chose the wrong school, or that their parents’ expectations were too high or too low. We all mess up our kids. (See Truth #2.) And, more than likely, you will be shocked by what you messed up… otherwise you would have changed it.
It took me a very long time to come to grips with these truths, but I feel better about my ability to parent since I did. I still read parenting books and I still bounce my parenting ideas off my friends, but I take all of it with a grain of salt because these three little rugrats are mine and no one knows them like I do. How I parent may not be how you parent, but that doesn’t mean that either of us is wrong. We are simply doing the best we can with what we’ve got.
Now it’s your turn… what are your parenting truths?