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Parenting is Constantly Adaptive and Evolving

Just when I think I am in the know in this go-go world when it comes to raising kids, I discover I am without a clue.  I, like most parents, go with the flow and take each day as it comes.  I hope for the best.  I try to put myself into the shoes of three very different children at three very different ages every single day.  I think about how it is my job and my husband's predominantly to shape them into functioning and capable adults, who can hopefully thrive on their own at some point.

It’s scary and intimidating, and I am not a newbie at this by any means.  My oldest is thirteen now, so I have been at it at least that long.  I have also read many books that stipulate how to parent – the conclusion, while many have similar themes and characteristics, is that all kids are different and you have to adapt to the kid and the situation.  This is learned over time, while said child continues to changes over time.   It is a constantly adaptive cycle.

There is no straight forward black and white way to parent, and what this translates to in simple terms is, that you have to pay attention.  You have to know your child as a person, just as you would a friend or any other family member.  You have to know their likes and dislikes, their fears, joys,  and personal burdens.  You have to anticipate their reactions to various stimuli and prepare yourself and them for specific outcomes.

It can be a bit daunting at times to try to predict and anticipate outcomes, but knowing that child’s heart and understanding that child’s reaction to specific situations is the best way.

I have learned in my years that things don’t get easier.  A child’s ability to provide self care skills as they grow does lessen a lot of physical burdens of parenting, but the issues just get bigger and harder.  The decisions more complicated and multifaceted.

There is a lot riding on us as parents and as I write this I can’t help but think about lost opportunities to teach, or where I completely misunderstood one of my children.  The times I have frustrated my own children, by not really understanding an underlying cause of a situational outburst, are too many to list.

As parents though we have to not dwell on what was missed.  We have to ask how we can better hit the issues of today and tomorrow head on.  We have to ask ourselves if certain situations can be teachable moments and we have to try to make time and make less excuses.

We parents, as a collective, are quick to critique and to dwell on certain issues, because we are given such an important job.  In doing so, we often loose track of the present.  We have to take it one day at a time, because it’s futile to dwell on past issues that take away from what is here and now.

Look at your child, watch them interact with their environment and pick up on their cues in the now.  Look for opportunities to teach and guide.  Speak of your personal experiences.  Nothing speaks more than personal experiences of what to do or not to do, and by speaking of personal experiences they get to know you and trust you more.  They learn from your mistakes as much as they learn from your triumphs.  Treat them as the person they are in the now so they can become the person they are supposed to become.

It’s not easy to shape constantly adaptive beings in a constantly adapting world.  You were given your child, and your child was given you.  No one can know a child better than a caring and loving parent.  It is this that gives me the faith that I will do right in the overall scheme of things.  Hopefully it gives you some faith too.

They say love will find a way, and the love of a parent that identifies well with their child almost seems infallible in the process of raising successful and capable adults.  Could it really be that simple?


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