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Nothing Prepares Your For Parenting, Well, Except These Few Tips

New father Michael Grose, writing for the Herald Sun, claims our generation of parents are particularly unprepared for the demands of raising kids.

“Few people come to parenting with this hands-on experience of kids these days. Family shrinkage means that children under the age of fifteen now make up less than twenty per cent of the population.  Combine this with the fact that the peak child-bearing age group is now the 31-35 year age bracket and for many women it’s been a decade or two since they have spent significant time around kids.”

Even with lots of baby exposure and childcare experience, the learning curve is still very steep for a new parent. All the books and advice, he argues, do not really prepare you for what happens when you bring home your baby.

And with that, Grose offers some…. advice.

A bit of a contradiction perhaps, but I can’t blame him. It’s hard to resist passing on hard-earned wisdom even when you know the real truth isthat you’ll rise to the occasion somehow.

His tips are broad, however, and easier to follow than the minutia found in some parenting books. He says:

  • Trust your instincts…
  • Build your support networks…
  • Form partnerships with professionals [like your kids' teachers]…
  • Build your knowledge base.

Building a support network is 100% true for any parents and cannot be emphasized enough.

The third and forth points seem reasonable, though building the knowledge base can be tricky with so much conflicting data out there.

The first tip is perhaps the most important, but also harder to do than it seems. When Rebecca and I wrote our pregnancy and baby book From The Hips, we came up with our own spin on this particular truism. It is one of our ten Anti-Rules for new parents and it goes like this:

Anti-Rule #2 Confidence is more important than instinct.

People often tell parents to “trust their instincts”. Go with your gut, and you’ll be confident about your choices. But it takes confidence to trust your instincts in a world of conflicting advice! Nothing builds confidence like hard-earned experience, but in the meantime, you can help build yours by seeking supportive environments. Know yourself, and what makes you feel safe and secure in who you are. Stay away from people who make you feel bad about yourself, and look for situations that make you feel stronger as a parent. Instincts are an indispensable tool, but they’re worthless without the confidence it takes to put them to use.

For more of our new parent anti-rules, look here.

photo:SarahMcManiman/flickr

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