When I was younger I didn’t think I would have children. Like most young adults I had lots of ideas about what I wanted to do with my life, and little bundles of responsibility were definitely not on my to-do list. But, circumstances evolved. ‘Life’ happened – and I became a parent, eventually, of three.
I was under no illusions as to the difficulty of the task of bringing up a child. My mum would often bemoan the difficulties of her life as mother of me and my brother… and it is true being a parent is absolutely the most challenging thing I have ever had to do. Children don’t come with a manual and I had no idea what I was doing. Most of the time I just went along with whatever other people advised. Or copied what appeared to be the ‘norm’. I have regrets.
It has taken many many years to finally get a grip on what I’m doing. While this hasn’t made the task much easier, it has given me the confidence to know that actually you don’t need a manual to bring up children. They are the manual. From them I have learnt so much: most especially how to trust myself and not rely so much on the opinions and advice of others – be they well-meaning friends and family or ‘so-called’ experts in the field.
I wish I had known this when I first started out.
Take the opinions of other’s into account yes, but ultimately, if we are to do justice to the young people in our care, we must learn to discern and trust our own judgement. Even if it differs widely from what is commonly seen around us. I am so grateful for the opportunity to see parenthood in this new light.