* The arrival of a baby ends a significant chapter in our life. In an instant we go from having time for ourselves, the relationship, work, friends and interests to parent-land tasked with the care of another human being. This transition varies for each person, however most of us face some sort of loss of self and of our original relationship as we come to terms with the pressures of baby care, sleep deprivation and limited intimacy. Added to this is the tension that different perspectives on child-raising creates between partners as they move further into the early parenting experience.
* Parent is a new and time-consuming role we take on in already full and demanding lifestyle. Mother and father also means caretakers, nurturers, disciplinarians, financial providers, play friends, social organisers, coaches, mentors and so on. While we may adopt the parent role overnight it can take much longer to adjust to all these new functions, some of which take us way out of our comfort zone. Additionally, we may have to let go of work, interests, activities and commitments that have been important to our well-being, yet are no longer possible.
* Parenting is a ‘learn on the job’ experience. No matter how many classes you attend, books you read or previous child caring experience you have had, nothing prepares you for the impact of your own child. The realisation that you will care for and guide another human being to adulthood coupled with an awareness that you cannot control how that happens or prevent their pain, suffering or death significantly alters our emotional and psychological states. Over time we learn to live and even embrace this uncertainty but initially it can throw us off balance and lead to self-doubt, anxiety and mild depression.
* Finally parenting is a controversial and emotionally charged area that has led to a wealth of theories on how to perfect our parenting styles. This makes it easy to get lost in all the information, set unrealistic expectations, lose confidence and find ourselves in conflict with our own values, creativity and intuitive intelligence. Becoming a skilled parent is a long-term process that takes time, patience and practice. Learning to respect our partners as parents with different perspectives, strengths and values requires open-mindedness, kindness, and respect.
Modern parenting requires a deeper level of consciousness to navigate the pressures of our individualistic and achievement focused mindset. This starts with letting go of the need to ‘get it right’, and allowing our own needs, ideas, values and priorities to shape our experience. From this place we become grounded within, more authentic with our children and better positioned to navigate conflict and difference in our relationship.