Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Trials of Parenting

Parenting is a mysterious process that includes a great deal of trial and error. The first born always bears the biggest brunt of this process. Parents generally tend to be overprotective because they generally have no idea of what to do with him or her. How could they? They've never been parents before. And so, they try one thing and if that doesn't work, they go on to another. It's both endless and confusing. Eventually, life settles into some kind of routine that becomes a little more predictable. They can't afford to become complacent; there is no such thing as having the parenting thing down pat. As soon as life begins to run smoothly, things change. The macaroni and cheese that the child loved enough to eat exclusively for last week is now taboo. He or she won't even look at it. True, we may have gone over board on it for awhile, but that doesn't answer the question: What now? What food dares compete and can possibly replace this favored staple? It's back to trial and error once again. And then with each successive child the process begins anew, although the benefit of experience helps to a certain degree.
Yes, parenthood can be fun, even if full of adventure and mystery. Each child has things a little bit easier along the way, due to their fortune in not being the first born. With each success and failure, Mom and Dad learn, along with their children, how to become a family. As children grow, this man and woman, once just educated professionals, grow into this most important responsibility: parenthood. They come to believe that children mostly survive even in these dangerous times, and learn to relax at least a little bit. At least until the child or children reach the next phase of their life--puberty. Then, all bets are off and the rules change and become strictly enforced once again. Puberty is a life and death situation, after all, not only for the child but for mom and dad as well. It is not for the faint of heart! Boyfriends, girlfriends, driving, dating, all of the things that these children want to do--seem both dangerous and evil. "As parents, isn't it our right, even duty, to protect them?" the parents ask themselves as they think back to their own teen years.
Even as children grow into adults, the job of parenting never ends. The memories of each stage of life is just too fresh. The mother remembers cradling the babe, the dad remembers teaching her to ride her bike. "The first day of school seems like yesterday; and remember his pride at his first driver's license?" Both parents still feel both the need and desire to keeping going, being ever-present when asked to counsel and console, lend money or an ear, share their own insights on either "how to change your oil" or "how to parent." The vocation of parenting involves hanging on and letting go--both at the same time. Eventually, new life may help them grow again, from parent into grandparent. Another opportunity to begin anew. And so it goes...The circle of life--it's a wonderful thing, even if it is filled with trial and error.


Lin said...

No one tells you how hard it is to be a parent. Well, maybe they do, but you don't listen. It is wonderful and scary all at once. My aunt says you don't stop worrying, even after your kids get married--it just adds more people to worry about.

I like your blog today and your encouragement when I am going through a parenting moment. It's helpful to know that I am not alone!

Tao Master said...

I would edit your title to say - Good Parenting rather than parenting. Having never been a parent myself, I can ask silly questions like - Do you tell your puberty-enriched teen why you are setting certain rules ? I remember my childhood as being protected and yet let loose. I remember my teens as being without guidance - perhaps it was a 60ish thing - the world as my parents knew it was changing so fast - they couldn't keep up. I was the atypical teenager - my parents wanted me to date - I was too shy. My parents wanted me to drive - just not their car. I would say that grand parenting is the great do-over, where former parents get to try new things on someone else's children. I had fun reading your essay. I give you an A.

butterfly woman said...

Thank you sharing this parenting story. Though I never had children, I enjoy hearing personal views of what it is like to raise them. I can say I was the oldest child and did have to lead the way (and bear the brunt of doing everything first). Sometimes I get wistful, thinking what a joy and challenge it would be to bring creations into the world. Well, I have my TaoMaster and my art, that keeps me pretty satisfied.
P.S. I always learn from your words, an education each day.