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December 22, 2017

Guide to Parenting for Beginners

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This post is a Contributor written post. 

One thing you start thinking about - a lot - while pregnant is the fear of being wholly responsible for the baby growing inside you. And the closer the arrival date comes, the more the panic sets in - are you really ready for this? How are you going to cope? And whose advice should you listen to, when everyone is telling you different things? 


Ultimately, though, when you have a baby it all boils down to you - the parents. As a mom or dad, you will be entirely responsible for this new life for the next twenty years or so at the very least - and more likely for longer. With all this in mind, I thought I would note down some of the biggest parental responsibilities I can think of right now - feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments section at the end of the post.

Giving love

It seems hard to imagine there will be tough times ahead when your baby arrives. Right now, you feel overwhelmed with feelings about this little individual growing inside you, and it’s like you know them already. That feeling of love will never go away, of course, but it will be tested - just ask your family, friends and colleagues that have children already. Sleepless nights, naughty behavior, and growing pains are all going to have a big impact, and you need to steel yourself for it. Ultimately, you can fail at pretty much anything else on this list, but if you give your child real love, no matter what the circumstances, it’s the best possible thing you can do as a parent.

Moral obligations

Of course, some of the problems mentioned above - growing up and naughty behavior - will happen as you try and teach your little one to live in a good way. Babies don’t know the boundaries, and as they try and gain some independence, it’s all down to you to ensure they understand the rights and wrongs of life. So, while it’s important to ensure your child is happy, it doesn’t mean you can let them get away with anything. It is going to be tough, but if your child is going to grow up to be a good, moral person, it’s up to you to show them the way and put them on the right path.

Ultimate protection

Protecting your children from danger, upset and harm is an obvious point to bring up. Those natural instincts will kick in, and the likelihood is that you would put yourself in front of endless firing lines to keep your little ones safe. However, will you need to temper this need to protect as your baby grows older and starts to explore and experience things for themselves? There’s protection, and there’s overprotection, and it’s critical that you allow your little one to experience the world as it is, so they are capable of standing on their own feet.



Your health

One thing that’s easy to forget is the need to protect yourself from harm. If you have bad habits, quit them. If you don’t exercise, start planning to as soon as you recover from your pregnancy. Eating bad food? Make some dietary changes. One thing you hear a lot from parents is that as soon as you have kids, time starts to fly by, so it’s important to make all these changes now. You want to lead a long and happy life, too, and you don’t want to have to rely on support from your children due to ill health.

Your finances

It costs close enough to $300,000 to raise the average child to the age of 18. And that’s not including putting them through college, which could add at least another $50,000 - possible even more. So whether you are into the concept of money or not, the reality is you are going to need it. There other costs that you need to consider, too. If your baby ends up having siblings in the future, will you be able to afford a bigger house? When you get old, will you have enough money to pay for your own assisted living facilities, or will you be reliant on your kids paying? Do you have life insurance funeral cover in case you don’t make it to old age? Is your will explicit in describing who gets what? It’s grim to think of these things right now, for sure - but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary.

Their self-esteem

You can have a lot of hopes and dreams about the baby growing inside you, but the reality is that they will, no doubt, be as unique and individual as you are. It’s important to be able to embrace these differences, even if your baby doesn’t turn out to be the adult you were expecting. Encourage them to try new things and give them opportunities, for sure, but never try and force them into doing something you wished you had done when you were a child. Building self-esteem seems to be something more critical today than at any other point in human history, and it’s actually quite scary thinking about the way social media is having an impact on kids. Who knows what the future holds, but be ready to back your kids, support them, set age-appropriate expectations and teach them to be resilient.

Mutual respect

Finally, following on from that last point, no matter how hard it might seem during tough times in the future, it’s vital you have a mutual respect with your child. Use the right kind of language. Give them space and respect their feelings, even if they don’t align with yours. It’s the same principle for their opinions, privacy, and individuality. You might have great ideas on how to do this right now, but from the second your child is born, the pressure you will be under could end up causing you to forget. So make a concerted effort to keep mutual respect at the top of your responsibility list - your child will grow up to be all the stronger for it.

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