BAM Family

BAM Family

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Just wait…!": A bad parenting habit I need to break

It started when I was pregnant with my twins.  Experienced parents would cluck their tongues, shake their heads and state:

"Just wait….!"

"Just wait…you think pregnancy is hard? Wait until you have newborns!"
"Just wait….you better sleep now because you won't have a good night's sleep for the next 5 years!"

Then after the baby is born, I started hearing these predictions:

"Just wait till he starts teething! Now that's sleep deprivation!"
"Oh, I wish mine was a newborn again. Just wait till they can walk! You'll never sit down again!"
"Be thankful they can't talk yet. Just wait till they are toddlers. All I hear is "no! no! no!' Can you say temper tantrum?!"

Twin two year old glory
Then came toddlerhood:

"You think he has an attitude now? Just wait till he's a teenager!"
"You think you worry about safety now? Just wait till he's driving!"

I just sigh. Because with each "Just wait!"all I really hear is this:
"You think your life is hard now? Just wait! In a few years, you're going to be even more miserable! Parenting is really going to suck then! Haha!"

But, if I am really honest, I know I've said this phrase myself.

The real question is Why? Why do we caution new parents to "hold on! Just wait….!"

When I examine my heart and attitude toward parenting, I know I've said "Just wait!" for a few complicated, and rather embarrasing reasons:

1. I want to warn less experienced parents of what is coming up. Hey, the "Terrible Threes" ARE harder than the "Terrible Twos."

2. I want to be patted on the back: Yes, dear. Parenting is hard. Here's a gold star. 

3. I want to feel superior: You, poor new parent, haven't even experienced the agony that is to come. Heh, heh, heh. Just wait… 

#1 is the only reason that is only slightly unselfish (though really, any parent will discover that three is harder than two on her own). The other two reasons just make me cringe that I've ever said "Just wait" to a newer parent.

To me, and any exhausted parent who is just looking for sympathy and support for a hard day….or hard stage….of parenting, the last thing we want to hear is this: "Just wait. The worst is yet to come."

I've only been a parent for 7 years but I've come to realize two small truths:
1. Every parenting stage has its challenges. In some ways, it gets better. In some ways, it gets harder. Mostly it just gets different.
2. Messages of encouragement do far more good than predictions of doom.

I'm trying to break the "just wait" habit in myself. I want to look forward to the future with my children (yes! even the teenage years!) and not live in dread of every new stage.

But even more than adjusting my own attitude, I want to start offering more encouragement and support to my fellow parents. Maybe we could all try out some new "Just waits…"

"Just wait till you hold that new baby in your arms and kiss that sweet head. It is so worth it."
"Just wait till she smiles for the first time. Your heart will melt."
"Just wait till he says, 'I love you, mama!'"
"Just wait till she waves at you at her school program, nudges the kid next to her and says, "look! That's my mom!"
And even...
"Just wait till he gets his license and can go to Kroger and pick up milk."

Yes, all of those things are worth waiting for…and looking forward to.

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