(Goalcast | Matt Valentine) As a parent, I can attest that having a child is more worth it than anything else I’ve ever done in my life.
Children give you a new sense of perspective, and if you’ll let it, the experience can be entirely transformative as it forces you to look at yourself in a way you probably never have before.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s all pretty.
There’s a lot about being a parent that’s damn hard, including some things that people don’t typically like talking about.
These are, for the most part, the things that you only find out once you become a parent– because everyone else is too afraid to talk about it (or admit).
But what’s the use in that? If you’re an aspiring parent or have a little one on the way, it’s important to know everything you’re getting yourself into.
Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.
– Robert Fulghum
Here are five hard truths about parenting.
1. Your style sense will…plummet
Okay, this is a half-joke point. However, in all honesty, the way you dress and carry yourself often changes dramatically when you become a parent.
From changing diapers, barf, food (you’ll get food on your clothes constantly without any idea where it came from), the sort of unconscious relaxing of your outward attempts at attracting a mate, and the inevitable exhaustion of being a parent combine to create something new: the utterly relaxed and uncaring you.
For most, this won’t be a problem at all. But others will have a hard time reckoning the idea of lounging around in sweatpants all day (most days…), or at least whenever they’re caring for the child.
2. Children don’t do what you say…they do what you do
One of the most unforgiving parts of parenting is the immediate entrance into what is essentially a leadership position. For most parents, this is completely foreign territory and difficult to follow through on.
As your child gets older (even just a few years old), you’ll notice they have a hard time listening to well…a lot of what you say. Some kids will be more difficult than others, however, this rings true across the parenting spectrum.
It’s frustrating, but it’s not the really tough part.
The tough part is that they follow your example. And anyone with leadership or psychology experience will know we watch the actions of others far more than their words. So, you’re immediately thrust into a position where someone is always watching what you do and follows that example.
That’s tough because it means you’re going to have to watch what you do to set a good example for your little one, often doing things you wouldn’t usually do and avoiding others.
3. Being a parent can be very isolating
There are certain things about parenting you can never seen coming. Difficult things far beyond discomfort or hard work. They’re things that reach deep inside of you and pull out something you never knew was possible.
One of those things is that parenting can be very isolating. In the beginning, your baby needs virtually all of your time and attention, which means those regular outings with the girls or weekend ball games with the boys might need to wait.
This is a temporary period in the parenting experience, however, as time goes on it continues to be isolating in that children will continue to take large amounts of your time away, time that has to come from somewhere and, because of the nature of work, often means continuing to cut back on time with friends.
By no means does that mean you become a hermit, and as children grow older this eventually changes. But,for a time, it can be quite difficult to deal with, especially for more extroverted types.
4. You may not love your child right away
Everyone takes to parenting differently.
One of the most difficult things to deal with for some parents is that they don’t love their child right away. You might think this would be an automatic thing, like a switch turning on from the moment a baby is born. And it absolutely is for a lot of parents.
However, for others, especially in the case of postpartum depression, it takes time. There is no special recipe for fixing this, though. It’s just something that heals over time.
The good news is that once that love does develop, the bond you have with your child is as unbreakable as any bond between a parent and their child could ever be.
5. You might face hard, impossible truths about your own parents
One of the hard, but ironic things about parenting is how many things you realize your parents were right about all along.
All your life, you looked at your parents and believed they were in the wrong. You might love your parents deeply and look up to them, but you didn’t always agree. And, often, you realize the things you disagreed about were, in fact, true.
But that’s not the real hard part. The harsh truth about all this is that your children are likely to do the same to you…and there’s nothing you’ll be able to do about it.
It’s just one of those things about being a parent. Just work to maintain a great relationship with your child and you’ll get out the other side with your sanity intact. And then you’ll get to hear, “you were right all along” one day too.