However you became a parent, through your natural children, through adoption or by being a foster parent, there are things that no one told you your kids would do. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe your specific situation is unique or perhaps nobody wanted to scare you off of having kids. There is no need to worry, however. Despite all the crazy things your kids will probably do, there is no greater calling than becoming a parent. Here are the 7 things no one told me about kids and how I learned from them.
1. They will do what you vowed your kids would never do.
Did you ever have that moment when you saw a kid doing something you did not approve of (maybe a tantrum, hitting a parent or pulling sister’s hair) and you thought to yourself, “My kid will never do that?” Well, it happens. No matter how hard you try to teach children about proper behavior, there will be those moments when they do the thing you vowed they never would. But it’s okay. Kids act out to get your attention. They do this to test their boundaries, and as long as you discipline them appropriately, it will eventually get better.
2. They will embarrass you in ways you never imagined.
Kids are known for embarrassing their parents. I thought I was prepared for my own children to do it to me, but when my daughter decided to randomly let out the biggest “ROOAARR” I’d ever heard at a stranger in the grocery store one day, I was anything but prepared. We all awkwardly chuckled at each other and I quietly moved my cart away from the aisle and advised my child it was probably not a great idea to growl at strangers. Kids will say and do things that will make you blush, and as much as you try to be prepared for it, you can’t. Children often don’t understand social etiquette, and when those situations arise, it is a great opportunity to teach rather than scold.
3. They might fall, get hurt and get sick.
It is natural for children to fall while playing, and oftentimes they are okay, but there might be a day when they come to you with more than just a scraped knee. Bones can break and accidents happen. Children might also get sick with more than just a cold or the flu. Sometimes they will need to go to the emergency room or have extended stays in the hospital. I don’t know if there is anything worse than seeing your child sick or hurt. As much as you may be prepared for medical emergencies, when it involves your own child, there is an emotional pain that you cannot prepare for. Teaching your child about illness or injury and explaining how the body works are great ways to help your child, but talking with a friend/family member or counselor about your fears and concerns is a great way to help yourself.
4. They will challenge you.
Each child is different, even within your own family. The discipline that works with one child may not work with another. I often struggle with this. I have twins and you’d think they would be similar in how they react to discipline, but they are not. I have one child who reacts exactly as expected when it comes to being verbally disciplined, and the other laughs at me. I had to learn to use two different parenting techniques with kids that are the same age. It is still a challenge, but understanding that my kids are different helps me with each of them.
5. They will mimic you.
This was something I was not prepared for. Children are like sponges and they will do exactly what you do. In some cases, this is great. They will say hello, thank you, please and even learn your best dance moves. However, this can also be awful. Children will pick up on the words that you probably shouldn’t say, point their fingers and say “don’t do that” to their siblings and maybe even yell at the traffic while in the car. This has definitely made me more aware of my own habits and has created several good learning opportunities for both my kids and me.
6. They will progress even if you’re not the perfect parent.
I often worry that I am not doing everything I should with my children. I worry about their development and if there is more I could be doing to help them. I worry they are not on par with other children and, basically, I just worry that I’m not being the best parent I should be. While we should always try to improve ourselves, we need to remember that no one is perfect. That doesn’t mean we're doing a bad job. Kids need shelter, food, clothes, stimulation and love. If you are providing those basic needs, you’re already doing a good job. You have several years to educate your children and they will progress despite your self-doubts as a parent.
7. They will teach you about love.
I thought I was prepared for how much I would love my kids, but I was wrong. I love them so much more than I thought was possible. Kids are a lot of work, they are challenging, surprising, embarrassing and sometimes not fun to be around, but they are also amazing. The first time my little girl said “mama,” I thought I would melt. When my little boy runs up and gives me a hug for no reason at all, my heart swells. It is different than the love you have for your spouse or your parents. It is not greater or lesser; just different. This love is born with children. Children don’t need to earn our love because it is already there. There is no feeling like it in the world, and the only way to experience it is by becoming a parent.
Megan Shauri graduated with a bachelors in Anthropology and a masters in Psychology. Contact her at Meganshauri@gmail.com