When a baby is born, it does not innately know how to nurse. It can suckle and it knows how to cry when hungry but the act of actually nursing isn’t a natural occurrence. And baby must learn, along with its mother, how to properly latch on and breastfeed.
Some parents, myself included, went to classes before their bundle of joy arrived to learn a tip or two on how to care for a newborn. And I say “learn some tips” because I felt I had a pretty good idea how to already do all the things necessary to help my future little blob of a human to survive that first year and beyond.
It would be a piece of cake! Certain aspects of parenting and caring for a child seemed so second nature, especially to a teacher and someone who studied child development and babysat over the years since the age of 12. I mean, I’d read about it and learned about it and I loved kids so, how hard could it be?
Boy, was I naïve.
Well, Little Geek was a champion nurser and I was made to breastfeed but it wasn’t that simple. We had the proper working parts but neither of us had EVER nursed/been nursed before so we literally had to learn how to. There were some nights where we cried together as we got frustrated from the seemingly simple task of feeding. After a few sleepless nights and lots of frustrated moments trying to breastfeed, I began to doubt myself and wondered if I actually knew anything at all.
Parenting isn’t simple. And no two children are a like so no matter what advice you receive from anyone else, even if you have an older child, having a new human to raise is always a lesson.
The point to all this is that we parents sometimes feel like we need to know it all, do it all, and perfectly to boot. But that’s not possible. Not every parent is born a parent and even having a child doesn’t make you an expert. When a baby is born, a parent is instantly throw into the mix and forced to learn on the job.
Currently, we’re struggling at home with Little Geek. His fears of the dark and being alone are starting to affect our quality of life. No one in the house is getting a decent night of sleep anymore and many of the chores around the house aren’t being done because he needs someone by his side at all times. And when the fears aren’t as bad, he can become defiant and stubborn about working on homework or doing chores.
In essence, when he’s not afraid of his shadow, he’s fighting us over math. And we’re all getting a little edgy with each other.
Enter our pediatrician.
I learned early on with Little Geek that if I’m stuck and I can’t find a path that works for us, calling for help isn’t a bad idea. This wasn’t an instant realization. No, it took me a few failed attempts at parenting Little Geek through his anger issues and not succeeding to find that I would need extra help. In my parents’ time, when I was acting up, they dealt with it together at home to the best of their abilities. Nowadays, we have a lot more resources for parents looking for guidance and help.
When I was struggled to parent him and we were at a standstill, I made an appointment with his doctor and he gave me a phone number to Help Me Grow Orange County. He explained that if I called that number and did a quick survey with them, they would match me up with programs around the Orange County area that would be able to help me with any developmental issues Little Geek was having. From physical to mental to emotional, they would be able to find me what I needed to get the early intervention Little Geek needed.
It was a godsend and helped us learn more about his development and his personality.
But now, with an elementary school student on our hands, he is no longer within the age limits of Help Me Grow’s reach. So I called his pediatrician again and this time was directed to a service that matched me up with therapist within my insurance range.
Within 24 hours I had a list of over 25 therapist within a 5 mile radius of our home for Little Geek. And all it took was a single phone call.
Being a parent is tough and having questions and concerns that don’t fall within your realm of knowledge can be discouraging. But there is always help. So often parents think they need to know everything and be perfect and to solve all their parenting issues on their own. This leads to frustration and anxiety that wear on the family unit. But it doesn’t need to be that way.
Parents already have so much resting on their shoulders from jobs to cooking to parenting to taking care of the home. Why expect them to have all the answers when their child’s needs falls outside of the norm? We aren’t born parents. It’s an on-the-job training position for life! Instead parents should be encouraged to seek help from professionals and get the support needed for them and their child. There are SO many different resources out there that many parents don’t even know exist. Ask a pediatrician, call your health insurance, reach out to your child’s teacher or ask a family friend. Ask for help when you don’t have the answers yourself.
A new mother in the hospital has a lactation consultant when she is concerned about how to nurse her newborn. A pediatrician is available to answer a new dad’s concerns about the proper color of a toddlers poop. A nurse’s hotline is available for that fever that spikes at midnight. We have all the tools to help us when our babies are feeling sick. There are also tools available for parents needing help when their child is struggling emotionally, too.
Being a good parents doesn’t mean you know it all and that you can handle it on your own. A good parent is someone who know where they are strongest and where they need help so they can seek out support.
There is no perfect guide to parenting as there are no perfect parents.