The Blessings of New Babies
A Pediatrician on Overcoming Parenting WorriesAll expectant moms and dads have worries. Seeking affirmation that everything is going to be okay is normal. As a pediatrician for more than thirty years, hearing young couples wondering aloud if they are going to be up to the task of parenting is something I expect. In fact, a modicum of angst indicates to me that they are taking their future responsibilities seriously. But the worries of today’s to-be moms and dads are now ratcheted to new heights, reflecting the helter-skelter world we all live in.
There are no perfect parentsLife today seems to be filled with more uncertainty and insecurity for young parents. Life also seems to be coming at us faster and faster. We are barraged with more conflicting information than we can ever possibly sort through or digest. Financially, we’re also challenged. More and more families need two incomes just to make ends meet, and on top of it all, the world looks like a more dangerous place to live in, much less bring up children in.It’s normal to use caution in these times, but many parents today seem to have an overabundance of caution, a quest for perfection, and a need for fail-safe plans to mitigate all variables. Newly pregnant couples are approaching parenthood like a college class with homework, final exams, and no wiggle room for error. They’re doing everything within their power to get it right so they can ace the parenting test. More than anything, they hope to be “perfect” moms and dads, but as we all know, such people don’t exist in our world.Here is my first secret of sorts, drawn from many years as a parent and grandparent: no matter what the world looks like today, the delights and the infinite pleasures that children bring to parent’s lives are still there to be enjoyed. None of the goodness has diminished, nor is the satisfaction gone. Modern culture is trying to back young people into a corner, but they don’t have to go there. Start by piercing through and dismantling the ever-demanding, materialist veil that looms large over our heads. Decide to keep things simple. Parenting is your birthright, so don’t let money, keeping pace with others, or the challenges of everyday life fog the way.
The truth about parenting
Some parenting lessons I’ve learned from doing things wrong. Pulling out flash cards for my less-than-one-year-old daughter didn’t put her on the road to becoming an early reader. Demanding that all my children learn to play the violin, no matter how they felt about it, didn’t work out quite so well either. I won’t go on.I’ve also learned much from the amazing and engaged parents whose children I’ve had the honor to care for. I’ve learned from dads who teach their children how to catch a ground ball and swim, from other (wild and crazy) parents who have taken their children on grand adventures like visiting all fifty states in one extended summer vacation, from moms who climb Kilimanjaro with their teenage daughters, and still others who vacation with their children in remote cabins without televisions or telephones. The number of excellent parents whom I know and have known is vast. They are loving people who have enriched my understanding of what healthy and loving parenting looks like.