Parenting. Sigh. Sometimes… scratch that… often we feel so unprepared, so unequipped, so inadequate. No one person has all the answers, and no two children are the same. Unique, one of a kind children are given at birth to unique, completely untrained parents. In a world where every move we make has preparation attached to it; we go to college or a trade school to do our jobs right, we get instructions to run a simple coffee pot; what in the world was God thinking when He decided to drop living, breathing little humans into our laps and say, “Here, this is yours. Don’t mess up.”?
Yet, despite the absolute terror of the unknown and foreign world of raising a child, we keep procreating….on purpose. Moms with more than one kid, you know what I’m talking about; the amnesia that occurs when we are contemplating a second, third, fourth child—we forget our moans of agony during labor, our teeth-gritting threats of death to our mates that did this to us, the begging to the anesthesiologist to stick that needle in our spines so the pain will subside. Just as we forget the pain of actual childbirth, we also bury the knowledge that most of the time we feel completely clueless how to raise a human into a thoughtful, serving, humble member of a functioning society. We turn our faces to the sunshine, rub our rapidly growing bellies where we purposely planted that little baby, and tell ourselves that we’ve got it mostly figured out and that we can handle anything those little munchkins might throw our way—all the while ignoring our tantruming toddler who’s in a timeout for pouring red nail polish on the dog’s fur while we were going to the bathroom with the door open so that exact deed wouldn’t occur.
What in the world did we get ourselves into? How did we get to the place in our lives where we are holding one teenage girl’s hand while her heart is breaking and furrowing our brows at our boy who just informed us that he has detention tomorrow for making a joke that connectively included the words “teacher” and “buttmunch”? Mild scenarios, yet when children’s emotional and behavioral needs pile up and pile up and pile up like a wall of Lego bricks that we’ve collected after stepping on them for the thousandth time, we get worn down and wonder if we’ve got what it takes to keep going as a parent.
But we do.
We were meant to be the parent of the children we are parenting.
It isn’t a mistake, and we are the right people for the job.
Because our (and our co-parent’s) molecules and cells are the only match to the physical, spiritual, and emotional molecules and cells of our child. We are aligned in a way that no other creature on the planet is to our kid. We are a knit-together strand of proof that we are the best of the best for our child, the greatest champion of our kid.
What if your kid is adopted, you say skeptically? Or you are raising a kid that didn’t come out of your actual body? I say the same. You are physically, spiritually, and emotionally aligned to your kid the way no one else on the planet is. You, as a unique, one of a kind person, are your unique, one of a kind child’s parent. No one can replace you, no one knows the internal features, no one is better equipped, no one is more prepared than you are to raise your young, born of you or not, with authority. You are the champion.
The problem isn’t if we can, the problem is believing we can.
The best way to believe we can is simple; consistently, bravely and confidently tell ourselves that we’ve got it. All decisions we make, all problems and processes we encounter should be sent directly through the filter of us already believing we can find a solution that fits. It may take lots of tries. There may (probably will be) lots of tears. But when we start from a place of confidence that we are 100% the right person to be our kid’s advocate and champion, we start the journey already equipped. If we are to start a marathon, we must come to the starting gate with running shoes on, not high-heeled boots. High heeled-boots, though spectacular and appropriate in many, many situations, are not the right equipment to be a champion in a long run. Unfortunately, starting a parenting journey without strapping yourself with confidence gives you an out and a reason for quitting from the starting gun. We don’t get an out, and we don’t get to have a reason to quit. We must tie up our laces and believe that we’ve got it. You and your kid have what it takes. If you don’t go into it believing that, why should they have confidence in you as a parent, and why should they have confidence that you think they are worth believing in if you don’t show up with that mentality? The number one confidence squasher in kids is when they see their parents not believing they are worth the effort. Believe in your abilities to raise your kids and you will raise kids who feel worth the effort.
And on those days when our natural tendencies to doubt our abilities overcomes us? We musn’t talk about it in front of our kid and we cannot tell them that we don’t know what to do with them. “What? You don’t know what to do with me? Well, that sucks, Mom and Dad. You are the only ones who might have a clue how to help me be a great, safe, stable human. If you don’t know what to do with me, hope is lost. Why should I even try?”
I’m not saying we can’t make mistakes, that we don’t doubt ourselves or don’t freak out from time to time. This is going to happen, daily probably, if we are being honest. All I’m saying is that some things need to not be shared with the tiny, growing human that is learning what kind of person he or she is going to be. No matter how much doubt may creep in, we must never let our children doubt our faith in their beautifulness, in their current and future contribution to the world, their potential, or their value as a person.
Champion with confidence. Our kids will thank us in the long run with their shining confidence in themselves and their abilities to give their all without fear of failure and emotional abandonment while they are trying to figure it out. And then when it’s time, they will turn their heads to their own sunshine and let us know they’ve got it!