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Learning How to Parent Your Child

Categories: babies, miscellaneous, parenting, postpartum

December 12, 2012

author: Jeanette Mesite Frem

How did you learn how to be a parent? Did you take a class? Did you read a book (or more than one)? Did you go to a conference or some workshops? Did you even take a class BEFORE you became a parent?

It's fascinating to me, really, when it comes down to my honest thoughts, that one must become educated in order to become anything professional but there's no required training to be a parent. Whether one becomes a lawyer or works retail or in a restaurant, there's education and training. If one adopts a child or becomes a foster parent, there's verification that you have a clue about what you're doing. However, in our society, if you biologically produce a child, there's no requirement to prove you have a clue about how to RAISE A HUMAN.

There's no checklist as you leave the hospital (if that's where you gave birth). How many times in my career have I informed a parent about my three favorite tips for car seat safety? I haven't even gone through the 40-hour training to become a car seat safety technician but have learned a lot from my friends who DID go through it. Really, you can take a baby home without simple instructions on how to use a car seat safely but there's a 40-hour course about it. I'm befuddled. Confused. Maddened. It just doesn't make sense.

When you left the hospital, was there a checklist that the nurse went through with you? No. Did they give you Operating Instructions for your baby? Did they ask you if you had social support? Any books? Anyone who could help you? Maybe. Motherhood is the great equalizer. (Sorry, dads, it's just different in the first few months for you, unless you're the rare bird that is staying home with your child or is raising a baby without mom and if you are, kudos to you!) Whether a new mom is wealthy, middle-class or low-income. Motherhood is hard. Sure, wealthy moms may seem to have more resources to get help, but they don't always have any idea of where to get help. And low-income moms or single moms definitely have disadvantages but sometimes they are aware of so much more support in their communities. I'm not trying to make a statement here, just saying that it's not always clear. It's just hard, no matter what. It can be full of joy, but it's hard.

Where does one learn how to parent a child? There are people who go to school and get degrees about how to raise children well. Psychologists, social workers, early childhood educators. There are parents that read books, search online and read some more. Maybe you ask your mother or model how she raised you. Maybe you try to do the opposite of what your parents did. You develop your own style.

The more I learn about parenting, both through formal studies and experience as a parent, the more I know and the more I learn that there's more I don't know.

Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be. Then again, asking questions is a good thing. At least in my parenting book.

How about you?

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