What the parenting books don’t tell you…

What the parenting books don't tell you... by Keri Kettle

Before the baby comes you read Spock or Brazelton or What To Be Terrified of When You Are Expecting…

There were moments when my teen was a toddler and her tantrums seemed like they would never end, I would sit outside her bedroom door and read Becky Bailey’s There Has To Be A Better Way.  She had some really good ideas but my kid still screamed endlessly, at least it felt like she did.

When she was six, my daughter brought me a book she found at the bookstore called The Difficult Child.  She told me she was pretty sure she was difficult and thought I should read it.

I’ve read a lot of books.  Often they have helped.  Some times they have scared me with possibilities I didn’t know existed (the step-parenting book that warned about step-siblings having sex – that one caused me to lose a few nights’ sleep).

Mostly, after researching all the advice of professionals, I have to put the books down and trust myself.

I have to trust that I know what my kids need.

I have to trust that if it feels like the right thing to do in my gut, that it’s the right thing to do.

I do the research.  I phone a friend.  I talk to doctors and teachers and therapists.

Then I trust myself.

Mistakes have been made.

When I was pregnant I ate more churros than kale (in my defense, no one had ever heard of kale back then).  I have yelled and lost my patience, an F bomb has been dropped a time or three.  I have been late and forgotten where I was supposed to pick them up and sent them to school without a lunch.

They aren’t grown yet so I can’t be sure that the lack of kale during gestation won’t have consequences.  It is completely possible that being late to pick them up is going to have them in a lot of therapy some day.  I’m sure there is a study out there that draws a connection between parents who swear and daughters who dance on poles.

But, overall, they seem pretty grateful for the majority of my choices.  I (mostly) listen to their opinions.  I (mostly) make yummy food.  I (mostly) kiss them good night and tell them I love you at least twice a day – which teenagers will complain about if done in public but reciprocate if you’re sneaky about it.

I’m told by parents of adults that you keep on raising them and advising them until it’s their turn to take care of you some time in your 80’s or 90’s.  My grandma used to send each of her kids and grandkids newspaper clippings every time she came across something she thought would be useful.  I will keep buying books and reading internet articles and phoning a friend.

I will keep trusting myself.

Because the biggest gift I can give my kids is to trust themselves, too.

Please share your thoughts.