Being a parent is a tough gig. No one can disagree. Along the journey, we are often plagued by doubts in our parenting abilities, and swallowed by the uncertainties of what results our efforts will reap. In my early years as a mum, I was swept up thinking about the day-to-day minutiae of parenting and family life. When I did have time to ponder the future, I hoped that my parenting efforts would not lead to years of expensive therapy for my children in their adult years.
As a mum whose eldest child will soon pass from the years of teenage angst into her 20’s, it’s time to take stock of this particular parenting experience. Here’s what I have learned:
There is a ‘no-returns’ policy.
We’ve all had those moments when the weight of parenting seems to tip us over the proverbial edge. Despite how much we’d like to stamp ‘return to sender’ on our child’s forehead and dispatch them into the nearest post box, we can’t. We are blessed with these little creatures for life.
There are no guarantees.
There is no sure-fire way to determine our child’s future. Each child is a wonderful tangle of genes, family heritage and life experiences. Our efforts to protect and guide do not mean we can determine that they will always make the wisest choices and best decisions. Sometimes we have to let life teach them lessons that we would rather not let them learn.
There are always unexpected turns ahead.
Sometimes it’s a diagnosis, a wilful wandering away from family values, or an unplanned life event. We can’t control the future. We can only work on the relationship.
20 years ago, I was pregnant with my eldest daughter. I didn’t know who she would be, but I held great hopes for her future. (Of course, she would like the same things that I do, and we’d be the best of friends. She would be healthy and successful in all she chose to do in life. She would be popular and sporty as well as academic. I would be a wonderful parent and her future would be just what I planned.)
Today, my daughter is many of the things I hoped and dreamed for her. We have a great relationship. She has achieved many things on my ‘list’, and lots more that I never could have dreamed of. But we’ve had some unexpected experiences, too. I certainly didn’t see her diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder coming, nor was I planning on the Social Anxiety Disorder. These things have taken me on a different journey than the original parenting trip that I’d planned. But it’s great.
Did I get it right? Some things, but definitely not everything.
What I have learned is that we need to support our children in the best way we can. It is important that we focus on what we do best in their lives, and seek others to support, teach and guide them in the things that are not our strengths.
Professionally, I love to support children and families to be better communicators; to help them become clearer speakers and the best readers and writers they can be. I use my strengths to share the load of supporting their academic progress and literacy development.
Newcastle Speech Pathology is committed to helping individuals and families become the best communicators they can be. We can help develop your speech, language and literacy. Contact us today to discuss how we can best support you.
You can read more about Maddy’s life adventures in her blog.