Why Isn’t Parenting Easy?

Brand New BabyHaving kids seems like a very natural thing to do. For a solid chunk of the members of societies everywhere, you grow up, you have kids. They grow up, they have kids. And so on. I imagine the planet would be a very lonely place if human beings didn’t have some sort of innate desire to share our lives with the next generation.

Oh! But the sleep deprivation! The spitting up! The crying! The worries into the wee hours of the night! The fevers. The whining. The impossible questions they come up with. And the endless questioning of ourselves, “What am I going to do with this child?” “Am I ruining this kid forever?”

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why? Why does it have to be so challenging? When our Labradoodle has a litter of puppies she does not pace the halls late into the night wondering whether she is paying too much attention to the curly one and not licking the straight-furred ones quite enough. She’s not brooding over whether a little one’s unwillingness to share the red truck during play dates indicates you’ve spoiled your child rotten and he’ll never make a real friend.

At Hand in Hand we understand that getting your entire family a good night’s sleep takes a lot more than divining the perfect number of stories to read. We know that building cooperation at home isn’t about just choosing whether to deploy Time Out with your toddler or not. We get how draining it can feel when your picky eater would rather go hungry than even try putting a green vegetable-like substance anywhere near her mouth. And we can relate to the guilt that can wash over you as you pry from your legs your desperately screaming three-year-old and try to leave the childcare center in time to make it to that meeting at work.

We can’t always make it easy for you to be a parent. But we can make it better. We can be there with you and help you surround yourself with a community that understands. We can create a place where parents can connect with warmth and support. We can listen when it’s hard. And be there with you when you have no idea what to even try next.

Parenting may not be easy, but supporting parents is what we love to do. It’s how we can make a difference for you, for parents everywhere, and for the children who will raise the next generation.

~ Julianne Idleman

Happy Hiking

Photo (C) Hinterland Photo 2010

One afternoon we went on a family hike. By the end, the three of us were all tired, hungry and cranky. I felt my patience and strength slipping as my daughter whined, “Carry me!”

My mind sifted through all of our options like my husband going to get the car, but it looked like we would just have to finish the hike back. A part of me just wanted to push through and get it over with, but then I thought maybe a little impromptu special time might shift the mood. I asked my daughter if she’d like to have special time right here on our hike. Her face lit up and she said, “Yes! Can we play ‘little girl’?” (This is a game where she pretends she is the momma and I’m the little girl.) I said, “Of course.”

She took the lead and climbed up every rock she could find then jumped off. She encouraged me to do the same. Instead of being the competent momma who can do anything, I played scared and begged her to hold my hands and help me. She loved this.

It was amazing to watch her go from tired and cranky to energetic and confident. I loved watching her determination as she tackled some larger rocks and hearing her proclaim, “I believe in myself!” as she jumped from smaller rocks without help.

I’m glad we didn’t push through the hike just to get it over with. We were all much happier in the end with the slower pace and taking time to delight in our daughter.

– Michelle Pate, Parenting by Connection Instructor and Consultant, join her upcoming BEU class starting March 14th. You can also connect with her on Facebook.

One Dad Supports Another

guyslisteningI have a friend I work with who has a little toddler. He came to me the other day, and he said, “You know, my son is driving me absolutely crazy. He whines and whines and I just go up the wall. Sometimes I have to leave the room, ’cause I don’t want to hurt him and I’m going nuts. I just leave him alone when he does that.”

My friend went on and on for a long time about how his son whined and how hard it was on him. I just listened to him. He was really wound up. I listened a long time. I told him what a good father he is, and that I could see how much he really cares about Ronnie and thinks about him. I told him I really respect him as a father. I do. He’s a great dad.

Then, I said, “You know, what I’ve figured out is that when my son whines, he has something to say to me and he can’t quite say it. He’s either got something that he’s hurt or scared about, or he’s going through a developmental stage, and he can’t quite do what he wants to do yet, and it’s bugging him. I found that if I really listen to him, he’ll find a way to tell me what the trouble is.” That’s all I said.

Today my friend came up to me. He was really happy. He said, “You know, you were right! If you listen, they tell you! My son started whining again a few nights ago, and I went over to him and I said, ‘I’m sorry that I haven’t been listening to you. You’ve been trying to tell me something, and I wasn’t listening very well. But now I can. What is it you want to tell me? What’s making you unhappy?'”

I was thinking to myself, “Now, you don’t talk that way to a little toddler, my friend got it all wrong!” but actually, my friend was right. He said, “After I said this I just kept looking at him and he said, ‘Yeah, Daddy,’ and he gave me a good push on the shoulder. I fell down, and we started wrestling. He laughed and we had a great time, wrestling all over the house for, I don’t know, an hour. Then he started running into the room and throwing up his hands, going ‘Ooooh! Daddy scary!’ and laughing and running away, then he’d find his mom and go ‘Ohhh, Mommy scary!’ and laugh and scream and run away from her. We were all over the place. And you know what? We had been having a lot of trouble potty training him, and after that night, he’s been doing it perfectly! He really was working on something!”

–a dad in Redwood City, CA.