Your Most Important Job
Author: Rebecca Knowlden
I have a question for those of you with a career outside the home. How long did it take for you to prepare for your job? Then, after all the required education and training, how long was it before you were really good at your job? If you’re like me, the answer would be “years”, and then I’d add that I’m still in the process of improving.
Now, let’s ask the same question about parenting. How much time did you spend preparing for that job? And now, in the most meaningful job of your life, can you say that you’re really good at it?
Parenting. Did you really consider what it would take to shape a helpless little baby into a responsible, capable, loving adult? Were you prepared for the amount of work and knowledge that the job would require? No way. Didn’t have a clue. And I’ve never talked to anyone who prepared for their parenting role with the same focus as preparing for a career. Most of us just thought, “hey, it’s probably time to start a family. We’re in love, we can pay most of our bills, and we did a great job caring for our puppy. Yeah, let’s start our family. After all, look at our parents, they figured it out. I mean, how hard could it be?”
Consider the typical young couple without kids. They’re capable and are building the confidence to take on the world. They’re finding ways to succeed, and are leading a pretty balanced life. In general, they seem healthy and rested.
Along comes baby. In a matter of weeks, the new parents have gone from carefree and confident, to dazed and confused. There have been moments of complete and utter dismay, a massive lack of sleep, and an overwhelming realization that they are not prepared. All of a sudden, they come to terms with the magnitude of this new responsibility!
Now add the reality of that child having autism or other disability. How in the world will you ever be equipped with the knowledge and skill to handle that job? And think of the financial burden and emotional stamina it will take to effectively care for that child’s special needs. It can be overwhelming.
So how do you turn those paralyzing doubts into productive actions? One step at a time.
Just like learning any other skill or subject, you build a foundation of knowledge, and then apply what you learn. You can’t learn algebra without first mastering simple math, and nobody picks up a musical instrument and immediately plays beautiful music. It takes practice, experience, knowledge and time.
Quality parenting for any child takes intentional work. You didn’t fall into a good career, you prepared for it. Many hours of study and attention were placed on your ability to perform your chosen job. Parenting is much the same. So be intentional with your parenting and you will get better with time. The more experience you have, the better you will be. You’ll learn and grow as your child learns and grows. Pay attention to more experienced parents that you respect. Let them mentor you, and be open to their advice. Always work on improving, and develop a core set of family values that will guide everyone in the family, in good times and bad.
Being a parent is a life-long commitment, and I truly believe it is the most important and rewarding job of all. So take a deep breath, and prepare for the wonderful journey.