The Complexities of Parenting


I am often struck by the variety and intensity of my feelings as a parent. Try to remember back to the first time you saw your newborn child, your emotions at their Bar Mitzvah, first Communion or wedding, the peacefulness of watching them while they’re sleeping. Compare these emotions with worries about their safety, your response to their disrespect or disobedience, failing a test, or neglecting their obligations. Add to the mix the intense responsibility we feel for their future and happiness, and the complexity of our own lives, and then think about the enormity of being a parent. The number of plans, decisions, and problems we face as parents rivals the intricacies of the CEO of a major corporation, with the added intense emotions that accompany us as parents – often cloud the issues. You would think that so complicated a job would come with a training manual or set of instructions. The way I see it, the primary source for most parent information comes from our own parents. You and your spouse hopefully compare notes, and probably on the fly develop your own approach. In many cases there is not a lot of conversation or planning, and decisions evolve “on the job”. We are also influenced by friends, relatives, media, books, experiences with our older children, and the changes that occur as we age. While there is a lot to be said for our natural instincts and personality, parenting is one of those activities where planning, evaluating, and talking can lead to much greater success. Good parenting is often retrospective. We look at what we’ve done, evaluate whether or not it’s working, and if needed, come up with a different plan for next time. Remember, everything happens more than once. If we mess it up on Monday, we’ll get another chance later in the week.

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