Words to Live by When Parenting Complex Kids
Much of what I've needed to know as a parent I learned teaching childbirth classes.
It turns out that the best tips for expectant parents facing the unknown journey to childbirth are fundamental pearls of wisdom for all of parenting. In fact, these 8 tidbits continue to be the best guiding principles I've discovered, to date.
- Expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything. This is like a companion to “Man plans, G-d laughs.” Remember that you are resourceful. Whatever lies around the corner, you can handle it!
- You can't control what happens, you can only control how you respond to what happens. The only thing you can control is your own behavior. Let go of the need to try to control everything and everyone around you, including your kids. It's stressful, ineffective, and annoying. Besides, it usually backfires.
- Practice taking care of yourself. Just like learning an instrument, it takes practice to build muscle memory. So practice, practice, practice until you get really good at it! When you mess up, try again.
- Trust your instincts. You know your kids – and yourself — better than anyone. Other people turn to you for answers. Try turning to yourself a little more often.
- Let your partner BE a partner. How is your spouse or companion really going to get the experience of handling things if you're always doing it for him? Trust and empower your partner to take on responsibilities – and then get out of the way and let him do it his way. (If you do not have a partner in your life, then read #6 below and find an ally!)
- Learn to ask for help and support. Then, accept it. Get over the ‘super-woman' myth that you have to do everything yourself. The truth is, you are not indispensable. Besides, when you ask for help you either give others a chance to show their support, or you empower them. Either way, it's a win-win.
- Create and join a community when you can. If you're reading this, you've begun to figure this out already. Stay connected. Talk to people. Loneliness and isolation start a vicious cycle.
- Maintain your sense of humor! No matter how rough life gets, find opportunities to laugh whenever you can. Yes, you'll shed a few tears now and then – it helps to break down to break through. But laughter has magical power to turn the most absurd, ridiculous situations into joyful memories.