Parenting is Challening
Parenting is perhaps the most important job that you'll ever have. Yet, unlike most jobs there is no salary. Instead you just get more bills. There is no training, no degrees to earn, or exam to take to show that you're ready. But there are still tests, big tests... and there's no way to cheat on them either.
When you become a parent, you become a parent for life. You can't quit after the first week the way you can if you take a class or a job that you end up not liking or that's too hard.
The challenges and "tests" themselves can be pretty intimidating and formidable such as wondering why your child isn't keeping up with others their age, how to teach your son to respect women in a sexually explicit society, knowing when to help and when to let them figure things out on their own, whether or not to allow your young daughter to dress in a way that you don't feel is appropriate, when to start talking about drugs and peer pressure, how to navigate social media sites that you've never heard of, or whether or not to ignore a temper tantrum.
Yet in spite of all of this, parenting can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. There's a reason you don't get a salary. You get paid in love and the satisfaction of watching your child or children grow up. You can't put a price on that. Your "employee benefits" are seeing your child's eyes light up when you teach them something new or when they give you a hug and say I love you for no apparent reason.
Some of your tests may include knowing what to do when your child is sick. A bigger test may be figuring out what to do when your child is sick and even the doctors don't know what to do. Or how/when to allow your child to learn from their own mistakes when you know well in advance that they're setting themselves up to fail and that you have the potential to intervene. Do you step in and save the day, or would you do them a bigger service to stand back and let them learn how to save themselves? After all, you can't always be there to save and protect them.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is teach them, fill them with your wisdom, instill them with the benefit of your experience, but then let them do with that what they will. You can teach your child your morals and values, but there's no guarantee that they'll adopt them as their own. You can tell your child to behave a certain way, what's safe and what's proper, but there's no guarantee that they won't learn to behave differently when you're not around.
You can give your child all the opportunities you can offer, but that doesn't mean they'll take them. You can love them unconditionally, but that doesn't mean they'll love you back. Instead, they may curse you, lie to you, disrespect and embarrass you, or simply refuse to listen to or even acknowledge you. Yet it's still worth it; well worth it.
There are a lot of parenting techniques and suggestions out there, but nothing can replace the support and encouragement that other parents can provide. Other parents not only have ideas about what may or may not work, but they can also appreciate what you're going through. Other parents know the frustration, the confusion, the worries, the sadness, as well as the joy, the love, and the pride that come with being a parent. They understand in a way that only another parent can, no matter how knowledgable or well-meaning a non-parent may be. Meeting other parents is a great way to share in the struggles and joys of parenthood, as well as to make some new friends.