Do You Tell The TRUTH About Parenting?
If you’re a parent, I don’t have to tell you how wonderful parenting is. When it’s good, it’s oh, so good. There are some days when you’re nailing it big time. Your kids are perfect or at least pretty close to it. They love you, you love them, everybody’s happy, and all is right with the world.
I also don’t have to tell you that parenting can be daunting. When it’s bad, it’s oh, so bad. There are days when you’re off your game and so are the kids. They’re keeping you up all night or talking back or costing you more money than you’re bringing in or myriad other things that kids bring to the table.
We all hear an awful lot about the joys of parenting, but should we tell a friend who is considering having a family how miserable it can be? Because let’s face it—there are miserable times.
I would talk about both sides. There will be plenty of people who will tell her how she’ll love it or he’ll make a great dad. And that’s probably true. But there should be someone who tempers that talk with some of the realities. If those potential parents don’t at least have an inkling of what they’re getting into the moment the nurse wheels the mother out of the hospital, it will bring them to their knees. The conversation shouldn’t be about convincing them not to have children or being negative. It should be about informing them that there will be dark times.
Really, that’s all of human existence. There is nothing in life—not one thing—that is all good or all bad. We (rightfully) extol the virtues of parenting, but we forget to say that some of it will suck. Who wants to be the person to talk about the frustration, hopelessness, and physical and mental exhaustion that visits every parent?
The potential parent probably won’t get it. Sure, it’s easy to understand that leisurely dinner dates will wane into nonexistence. But try telling them how hard it will be to use the bathroom or take a shower without a child needing them right.this.minute. If you don’t have children, this is a fact of parenting that’s so abstract it makes no sense whatsoever. Before I had children, I remember my sister telling me how she had to wait until her husband was home to shower and wash her hair. Boy, did I laugh.
Haha, joke’s on me!
We should tell the truth, but we should also realize two things about telling the truth: everybody’s truth is not the same and it’s impossible to impart with mere words the enormity—the sheer joys and the deep pains—of parenting. So much depends on the parents’ perspective.
How can you make someone understand how you pour your heart, your soul, your breath, your very life into making sure a helpless person makes it to adulthood in reasonably good shape? You can’t, but do them the favor anyway. Forewarned is forearmed.
What do you say? What truths do you or would you tell about parenting?
Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is managing editor of Good Enough Mother. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5.