Whether one takes on the parenting role with relative ease or with difficulty depends on various influences, including parenting models, resources, support, one’s own personality, etc., but most parents find parenting more physically and mentally taxing than they expected it to be. The related fact is that parenting is not only more difficult than most people think, but also more important than parents think.
How we parent truly matters. Understanding how we influence our children’s development, learning parenting skills to foster healthy physical, intellectual, social and emotional development and putting into place strategies to raise happy and responsible children are all things that require intention, dedication and effort. The good news is that if one consistently strives to apply effective parenting practices from birth, the pay-off is huge. Though it is hard work, parenting successfully brings much joy.
What's the key to being a confident parent?
Becoming confident in your role as a parent can be difficult because nothing can really prepare you for the staggering responsibility of taking care of a completely dependent little being, and because a child’s abilities and needs are constantly changing. Gaining sureness comes from finding a comfortable balance between listening to your own instincts and seeking advice from other parents and expertise from professionals.
A good place to begin is by being reflective about:
1) How you feel with regard to the way in which you were parented
2) The role models you have had in your life, and,
3) Areas in which you would like to learn more and parent differently.
View parenting as an ongoing journey where you are always learning new skills and layering them. Take time to acknowledge successes (no matter how small) and to also proactively strategize about difficulties that arise (as opposed to falling into a reactive mode in the face of problems).
Parenting with intention — making informed and thoughtful parenting decisions with long-term goals in mind — will yield results that will increase your confidence even while you continue to take on new challenges that each stage brings.
New parents are often overwhelmed with information. What's your advice on how to make informed choices?
Information is good! But, look at the source of the guidance you receive. Not all sources are equal! Ask yourself if the information is coming from a person or place that has earned your trust. You might think twice about heeding the advice of those whose experience with a situation seems unique or unrelated to your own, or from those whose values or goals don’t seem to align with yours.
Good advisors are those you see as a role models, parents who have had success in a similar situation, or professionals whose guidance is rooted in research and evidence-based practice. Finally, listen to your gut feeling about advice and information you receive: does it make sense to you?