Prepare & Prevent (before baby arrives)
This blog was written by my friend, Suni Sánchez. She has written an amazing book about the best ways to prepare to be a parent and I've asked her to help write a blog to give you some insight. If you're interested in her book 'Welcome to Parenthood', you can buy it here on Amazon Australia or via Booktopia.
‘I want to give my baby the best start in life’ and ‘I want my child to be happy’ are two of the phrases I hear more often when speaking to future, expectant parents.
Research confirms that the transition from being a couple to becoming parents has an increase in life satisfaction, and most parents go into pregnancy with an open heart and lots of enthusiasm.
But here are my questions:
- Why is it then, that parents start with the highest intention to give their children the best start in life and truly wishing for their happiness, but they unknowingly sabotage those very aspirations?
- Why is it that only the minority of parents maintain that same level of enjoyment past a couple of years?
One of the answers to both these questions is… drum roll…
Lack of Parent Education.
I know what you may be thinking:
‘But doesn’t being a parent come naturally as soon as baby arrives?’ and/or ‘What about my parent instincts?’
'Every other occupation, from driving a truck to performing surgery, requires months or years of training. Only for the job of raising children do we expect that love will be enough. But, sometimes it isn't. Parents also need skills.’ ~ Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, Authors of How To talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk
And yes, instinct rocks! The problem begins when we start confusing intuition with other things, such as trauma, unconscious beliefs, knee-jerk reactions, lack of emotional regulation and the list goes on…
So what is Parent Education?
It is knowledge - information, tools, resources, skills - mentorship, trouble shooting and ongoing support to create a fabulous family life.
And the great news is that Parent Education (which is different than childbirth education*) is readily available:
A) Talk to parents of older kids. Parents you gravitate towards - the ones you observe and respect for the way they relate to and speak to their kids, the way they are with them.
Ask them for one book recommendation and check it out. You may be able to borrow a copy from your local library if you don’t want to commit to buying it yet. Or better, borrow their copy.
You can also ask them a few questions:
- If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?
- What wouldn’t you change for the world?
- What are your top three mistakes as a parent?
- What are your top three high moments of parenthood?
B) Spend an hour (or as much time as you can manage!) in a park, playground or at a friend’s kid’s party and observe. Remember, we are not judging how other parents are doing their job – Parenting is not a competitive sport. It’s about deciding which direction our wind is blowing as a starting point.
C) Can you babysit for a friend? Spend the day (or as much time as you can manage) with their kid(s). Acting in a parenting role, with that intention in mind, will start informing you about what you enjoy and what you find triggers you (and explore why is it that triggers you).
You’ll begin to gain an insight into the role.
D) Take a parenting course.
The same way you wouldn’t expect to wake up one day and know exactly how to sculpt or play the violin or be the top chef of a three-hat restaurant or play a sport, you can’t expect to know to be a parent out of the blue. Parenting is a skill – regardless of age – and like every skill, it takes knowledge and practice.
With this, my only advice is to educate yourself about the education! Many parenting programs endorse treating kids and relating to them as if you were training a dog.
Remember your baby is a complete human being from day 1.
How would you treat another human being? How would you like to be treated?
And as Robin Baker says, ‘You don’t have to figure it all out in the first three months of your baby’s life’ but it is important to be aware that being a parent goes beyond learning how to change a nappy/diaper and feeding your baby.
Love the questions.
Not having an answer to a question is a good sign! It means you are not succumbing to knee-jerk reactions and unconscious beliefs.
Welcome to Parenthood!
Here’s to embracing family life fully, to having the courage to seek answers and making informed decisions.
*Childbirth education provides information and support for pregnancy and birth. Some cover physical aspects of early parenting such as care for baby and parents (feeding, sleeping…)
About Suni Sánchez
Suni is the Founder of Human HQ™, Family Dynamics and Early Childhood Researcher, Fierce champion of Parents and Children and Author of ‘Welcome to Parenthood: How to design a fabulous family life. Suni sees parenting as a social, emotional and even revolutionary activity. Her trailblazing vision offers a different approach to a new generation of parents and defines the twenty-first-century family living space.
About Essential Me
Hi, I'm Amanda. I support women and couples during their pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey as a Doula, Ka Huna massage therapist and Pilates instructor. I'm Based in Sydney and would love to help you. Please check out my Top 10 Tips for the best possible birth experience here. I'd love to meet you for an obligation free interview to see if you feel we're the right fit. Contact me here. Thanks, Amanda x