Monday, August 18, 2014

Parenthood Week 64 – Lessons From My Mother

The person who has taught me the most about being a parent is my mom.

There is so much to know when it comes to being a parent. Yes, there are books that cover almost every single facet of taking care of a kid. While these books are often backed up by research, they aren’t informed by family tradition. Genetics often means that something that worked for your mother as a parent has a higher possibility of working with your own child.

I went to an infant care class, and have access baby-rearing books and the all-knowing Internet. However when things got tricky and I wasn’t sure how to handle something, after talking to Diana, I’d look to my mom for help.

All mothers raised kids, but not all moms are really knowledgeable about the art of raising children. You don’t have to keep up with the latest research and products to be a great parent but you do have to know what’s going on with developments in parenting philosophy to speak intelligently with to new parents.

My mom is that person who always seems to have a baby in her arms at family events.  She is also the person who makes and effort to know in what is going on in the world of parenting. It’s this combination of passion for children and her openness to keep learning about kids that has made her an incredible resource for me.

There are many little things that she has taught me like how to burp Ollie (raise one of the babies hands up to lengthen the esophagus and gently rub the small of the back) and how to give Ollie a bath. She taught me the best way to hold a baby to put them to sleep and the signs to watch for when Ollie is ready to be put in the crib.  She provided an approach to food that we could use to help create Ollie’s diet from her modern knowledge of food and nutrition. And my mom also passed down traditional knowledge from her parents on how to handle thinks unique to people in my family like Asian cradle cap.

Every time I talked to my mom it seemed like I picked up on one more nugget of information that was helpful in handling Ollie’s every-changing needs as a baby. When she didn’t have a solution, she was always understanding and sympathetic.

People battle the insecurity of being a new parent by buying books, refusing to buy books, asking everyone for advice or asking no one. There’s a sense that our parents figured things out by themselves so we should. If we can’t then somehow we are damaging that ever-present comparison we make between our parents and ourselves.

Your parents didn’t figure out all of this parenting stuff themselves. No one does.  Asking for help may mean that you have to put your pride aside. The longer you are a parent the more you don’t care about pride. There’s no feeling about preserving pride when you are in hour two of trying to put your baby to sleep for the night.

Success as parents is not based on our independence but how we are for our children. If our focus really is on our kids, then asking for help is something we do against our own pride but for our children.

The most important thing that my mom taught me about being a parent is that taking care of other people is where we find our meaning and taking care of our own is where we find our purpose.

I still have a lot more to learn about being a parent and my mom has a lot more to teach me and one day I’ll take on this part of being a parent and teach Ollie what my mom has taught me.

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