Preparing for Parenthood

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ABOVE: Are we there yet? Before you even start, it is best to have a plan. PHOTO FROM PIXABAY

By Warren Heggarty

“It’s a bittersweet reality: The major part of our job as parents is to eventually become dispensable. So, above all, we need to encourage our children to do things for themselves. We need to teach them to think independently, solve their own problems, and believe deeply in their own abilities.” Jane Nelsen (Nelsen, et al., 2001)

Having children changes everything, so no wonder people (who usually like a bit of stability and certainty) get a little stressed when junior comes along. Is there any way to prepare yourself for parenthood so that it doesn’t come as such a rude shock?

First, what are the qualities that you need to develop to become a great parent. Aside from budgeting money, the editors of Parents Magazine assembled this set of attributes which will make it easier to become a great parent.

  • A great parent knows when to let go
  • A great parent has a strong marriage 
  • A great parent finds time for fun
  • A great parent knows how to say no
  • A great parent is a great role model
  • A great parent shows a child endless love (Nelsen, et al., 2001)

In real life, of course, one or two of these attributes are often missing, but people seem to manage.  One thing that will help you manage is planning.

Calculate the cost: By that, we mean the whole cost from conception until at least tertiary education. This will give you some idea of the size of the commitment you are going to make. Importantly, it may encourage you to START SAVING before you have a child so that you are not in so much financial stress later. (beliefnet)

Realise it is no longer ‘all about me:’ Because when you have a baby, you won’t be number one any more. Not for another couple of decades at least!

Discuss becoming a parent: This is how you learn things. In the old days when several generations lived in the same household, it was difficult NOT to learn a thing or two about child rearing. Nowadays you have to make an effort to learn as much as possible, from other parents and your extended family.

Accept that you won’t be able to control your environment as completely: With a child you will no longer be able to arrange your household and your routine exactly as you want it. If you have a spouse, you will already have realised that, in the immortal words of Petula Clarke, ‘it’s all compromise.’ Speaking of spouses, with children. 

You will really need to work as a team. It is a big help if you are consistent in the way you relate to your children. You also need to keep one another in the loop. And remember, you are modeling parenthood before your children. Don’t stress!

So what about preparing your children for the world of work? According to J.T. O’Donnell of ‘Work it Daily’ the best thing you can do is ‘training them to solve problems.’ This, she says is because employers have trouble finding young workers who are resourceful enough to do this. Why? Because we have the answers to things at our fingertips. One just Googles it. But when you get to work, you discover that not ALL the answers are on Google, you have to work most things out yourself. (O’Donnell)

There will come a time, of course, when you will have to release your children into their own lives. Hopefully you won’t have to wait too many decades for this, but some parents find the adjustment a little painful. The sooner you prepare for all these things, the easier it will be. 

If you need a laugh after all that, read this article by Bunmi Laditan which tells you what you REALLY need to do when preparing for parenthood. (Laditan, 2017)

References

beliefnet. (n.d.). 7 Ways to mentally prepare yourself for children. Retrieved May 2, 2019, from Beliefnet:

www.beliefnet.com/love-family/parenting/galleries/7-ways-to-mentally-prepare-yourself-for-children.aspx?

Laditan, B. (2017, December 6). How to Prepare for Parenthood in 11 Easy Steps. Retrieved from huffington post:

www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-prepare-for-parenthood-in-11-easy-steps_b_5411134

Nelsen, J., Gottman, J., Cohen, L., Taffel, R., Berger, E., & Doherty, W. (2001, May). What Makes a Great Parent? Retrieved from Parents Magazine:

www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/style/what-makes-a-great-parent/

O’Donnell, J. (n.d.). The Best Thing You Can Do To Prepare Your Kids for the Future of Work. The Playbook. Inc.Video. Retrieved May 2, 2019, from

www.inc.com/video/jt-odonnell/how-to-raise-kids-who-will-succeed-in-the-workplace.html

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