Prior to becoming a parent, even before I was married, I took notice of my own parents reading books and articles on parenting. They would discuss new things that they may have read and/or learned with each other to possibly implement into their parenting philosophy and strategy. However, I would run into others who comically questioned the need to read books or articles about different parenting strategies. One person had said something to me that was along the lines of parents from previous generations learning from their parents and just coming to know what to do, like parenting just fell into their laps. They made it seem like parenting just fell out of thin air.
When it comes to parenting though, from my amateurish experience, it seems like it is part instinct and part knowledge-gathering. Loving the precious creature that you helped create may or may not come with the territory, but how to be loving to that creature is a learned behavior.
Trust me when I say that I am still learning how to manage my frustration and, I am sad to say, anger with my son’s incessant crying, which actually rarely happens now. There have been times when I nail it (it being what he needs or whatever it takes to ease him into stopping); I put my arms around him or gently shush him or hold him at the right angle and gently massage him and he starts to fall asleep or look at me peacefully. This seems to be something of instinct because I think immediately that he must be feeling some kind of anguish or pain.
Then, there are times when nothing seems to put my “little man” at ease. He continues to yell and scream and the tears roll down his cheeks, while I am trying to figure out what the problem is. My father has told me before that sometimes babies are babies and just need to cry. Seems simple enough I know, but it is something that I had to learn. Now, this does not mean that I stop trying to put my child at ease, yet it does seem to put things in perspective when I remember this. Then again, not to dismiss other people’s thoughts or feelings on parenting or how to best handle my child’s distress, I have accepted the knowledge that I know him better than anyone else outside of his mother and sometimes I will respectfully ignore the unsolicited guidance (if I think I have a better solution to calming him down).
Parenting really is something. It has become a time for me to put into action some of the things that I have gotten from my own parents. Hopefully, in some ways, I will be better than them in how they raised me. No parent is or will be perfect. Another thing that I can count as an addition in knowledge and not an intrinsic instinct to my nature when Elijah (my son) was born is that I may learn more from him than he actually learns from me. Now, this may not be completely true, nevertheless I have heard this quite a few times from other adults through the years, even before I had thought about a parent. Whether it be he is learning from or I am learning something for myself as I am trying to teach him, may we both be benefit greatly from the next 18 years of education as a family – from parent to child.
Parenthood, as it appears to this new kid on the fatherhood block, equals instincts multiplied by healthy, guided learned parenting behavior. Though this does not mean one will end up the perfect parent or have the perfect child because there is the fallible human nature to consider, but the aforementioned equation may lead to a healthier environment for both parent and child to thrive in their naturally assumed roles.