News & Views
from   The Parenting Center at Abington

.   The Journey of Parenthood

 Becoming a parent is often considered to be one of the most exciting and thrilling times in a person's life. We often embark on this new adventure with great hopes and expectations about what life will be like as we nurture and raise our children who are so dependent on us for life. Sometimes, however, the journey into parenthood can surprise us. We can feel like we are riding on a roller coaster of emotions ranging from joy and elation to some not-so pleasant and overwhelming feelings like anxiety and frustration.

   Parenting is a journey. It is one that can be defined by the many changes and adjustments we must make as we learn to understand and fulfill our role as parents and meet our children's needs as they grow, develop and change. According to Ellen Galinsky in her book The Six Stages of Parenthood, anytime we embark on something new, be it baby, job, vacation, even a new school year, our thoughts become filled with images about what life will be like. We develop these pictures and ideas based on our own experiences growing up, the media, our own ideals and our friends. Then as we enter and live through these new experiences, we are faced with the job of reconciling all of our images with the realities.

    Parenting is about this reconciliation. As our children go through every new phase of development, from crawling to walking, from preschool to kindergarten, from elementary age to adolescence, from entering college and beyond, we have the job of looking at and assessing the many images of what we thought that phase would be like versus the way it actually is. Often, we use these images to measure our successes and failures as parents. If reality matches the image, it brings us joy, and we feel successful. If an image does not become reality, it can bring us sadness, feelings of loss, or anger. We can feel like somehow we are doing something wrong. Every transition in our children's lives brings with it this challenge for us of reconciliation.

    It is important to remember that as we watch our children grow and develop, we too are growing and developing. It can feel as if we need to be constantly redefining our role as nurturer, disciplinarian, and parent. One thing that can help to make our journey through parenthood less rocky is learning to establish more realistic expectations. That does not mean, however, that we should lower our expectations or standards but instead, learn to understand who our children are and what they are capable of. We can then use that information to set the stage from which we can parent and challenge our children. It is in the reconciliation of our image with the reality that we learn to grow, accept our children for who they are and parent according to ways that meet their unique needs. Learning to set realistic expectations is, according to Ross Greene author of the book The Explosive Child, "one of the most important roles we play in the lives of children." The closer we get towards understanding our children and ourselves, the fewer disappointments we may face as our children grow.

   We can learn to establish more realistic expectations by

   · Reading and learning about typical behaviors our children may exhibit as they grow through different ages and stages.

   · Learning to understand our children's unique temperaments and personalities.

   · Talking and sharing with other parents who have gone through similar stages and worked on similar issues.

   · Being able to anticipate and use forethought in helping ourselves and our children manage life's inevitable challenges.

   · Attending parenting workshops and discussion groups at your local parenting center.

   By doing some of the above, we can better appreciate the rewards of parenting and the rewards of understanding the uniqueness of each of our children and consequently, build a more positive relationship with our children.

   The Parenting Center at Abington is here to assist parents on their journey through parenthood. We offer programs that provide parents with the support, knowledge and skills necessary to help them and their families grow in the most effective and healthy way possible. For more information about our programs or to receive our current schedule of programs, call 215-576-0586.


By Deanna Bosley, Certified Parenting Educator

Sept. 2001
Vol. 4/Issue 1

A publication from The Parenting Center at Abington
P.O. Box 596, Abington, PA 19001 (215) 576-0586

Printing of this newsletter is courtesy of the Abington Memorial Hospital.

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