Top 5 lessons I learned as a parent

Parenting is hard. When you’re in the trenches sometimes it can be tough to remember why on earth you signed up for this. Here are the top 5 lessons 20 years of parenting taught me that I didn’t really learn or read about anywhere else.

  1. The golden years of childhood are ages 7-13.
    Save your big bucket list vacations and adventures for these years. They will have more impact on your children and create stronger memories.
    Spend the years leading up to those preparing and planting seeds.
  2. Your relationship to your child is your greatest parenting tool.
    When shit hits the fan it’s your only tool. So keep it strong, build it up, listen to your kids and let them be the individual humans they were born to be.
  3. All of your parenting fails and worst character traits will be visible in your teenager.
    Don’t let yourself be triggered by the giant mirror of your past self and let it ruin your relationship with your teen. Talk to them like the adult they are becoming; be open and vulnerable about your missteps and give them the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and experience.
  4. Learn about lifespan development and child development.
    Understanding where my kids are at in their natural course of human development has been a tremendous help in keeping me in objectivity and bigger picture thinking.
    The phrase don’t sweat the small stuff comes to mind. Many of the things that challenge us the most about our children are natural stages of evolution. Taking a different perspective almost always dissolved the struggle at least a little.
  5. It is probably your fault.
    No shame or blame here but you are the adult. You are the role model and your child’s nervous system is patterned off of you. Barring a diagnosed developmental delay (these get diagnosed early folks, stuff that shows up later is all you), if your child is dysregulated or has behaviour problems look no further than your own shit for the source. So show up, grow up, get some counseling, and demonstrate better patterns for your child to learn from.

Being responsible for the development of another human being demands that we show up as our best selves every damn day. And when we can’t be our best we must be good enough and vulnerable enough to tell our kids where we are at and ask for help, from an adult NOT your kid. You can ask for grace from your kid but not support, that’s child abuse.

It is hard work.

But what I know is that I am a better me because of the work of raising my children.

I am more accountable.
I have better communication skills.
I am more patient.
I understand myself better.
I know what is important to me.
I have a greater capacity for love.