Maybe I have a shallow definition of what ‘rewarding’ means?
‘Rewarding’ sounds a bit too glib. It doesn’t seem to acknowledge the struggles. So many people find parenting hard. When they hear other parents say that parenting is rewarding, some parents ask “what’s wrong with me, because I find that I’m miserable most of the time”.
Little humans are complex. They are needy. They grow really slowly. They slow us down (and that’s a good thing most of the time). They need us for a long time, a really long time. The logical and rational part of their brain doesn’t finish growing until the age of 25 (years, that is). And parenting gets harder as our children get older. If you don’t believe me ask someone who has adolescents.
Parenting is a lot of things. At one end of the spectrum, for me, is frustration and at the other end is joy. And in between are lots of moments of misunderstanding and coming to new or deeper levels of understanding. Parenting, for me, is a constant discovery on the complexities of being human. It is an unrelenting journey where I know I will never reach the destination because being a parent never ceases. There is a lot of uncertainty there, and humility, and trust, and hope, and laughter, and amazement, and wonder, and pondering, and floundering, and finding my feet again. I can never become complacent about my parenting because my children are the instruction manual and I can never be sure what is on the next page, let alone what’s in the next chapter. That’s life. Just when you think you’re on the right track, your kids throw something into your path that makes you wonder how you are going to get over/under/through/around it.
I think it’s helpful to look at what your spectrum is like. What does the best and worst look like? And what feelings are associated with the best and worst? What are your struggles and what are your strengths? And what is in between best and worst? Knowing this, helps you to reflect on where you can do better, because parenting is always about doing better. One thing is for sure, it’s always about effort.
Something that I remind parents about in my groups is:
- never make your children responsible for your feelings, they are your feelings, you own them; and
- never make your children responsible for making you feel better, that’s not their job, it’s your job.
You are the adult. You are the parent. You are supposed to be the one who is bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind (Circle of Security). So, here is an article by a Dad about why his kids don’t make him happy (it’s a great read) …
Extract – “The joy and happiness of parenting is like the joy and happiness that can be found in many good things: it comes from sacrifice, self denial and self giving. It comes with work and effort. I have to be the sort of person who finds happiness in giving. In other words, my kids don’t make me happy to be a parent; I have to make me happy to be a parent. And I am. I am beyond words. But that happiness will decrease if I become more selfish, and it will increase if I become less selfish. If you want your kids to make you happy, you are asking your kids to make you less selfish. That is a demand that is, all at once, incredibly stupid, laughably absurd and profoundly abusive. The problem (one of the many problems, I should say) with parents who expect parenthood to “make them happy” is that they are always disillusioned when reality hits, and then they resent their children for failing to fulfill their impossible expectations.” Matt Walsh
Categories: Parenting Skills