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10 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Becoming A Mom

10 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Becoming A Mom

The college days of me dreaming about becoming a famous actress have long gone and has been replaced by me settling into my new and exciting permanent role as a mom! It’s been quite the adjustment, starting from pregnancy to body changes, life adjustments, failed expectations, harsh realities, and painful moments. But even through the struggles that sometimes makes its way into being a mom, the moments are appreciated because they come with beautiful meaning. However, if you’re at all like I was in the beginning and can’t see the beautiful meaning, you’re definitely not alone.

Below are 10 lessons I learned from being a mom. I hope this resonates with you and you find comfort that we’re all in this together!

1. Getting pregnant is just the beginning!
After years of doing everything possible to avoid getting pregnant, I suddenly found myself wanting to be a mom. As it turns out, trying to get pregnant can be its own challenge. The thought of becoming pregnant and actively trying to get pregnant are very emotionally draining. Additionally, if you’re working full time and trying to keep a social life in check, it can become just another task on the daily to-do list. Some parents suffer from infertility and that’s even bigger undertaking when trying to conceive. But once you get pregnant, you realize how pregnancy is only the beginning.

The lesson: Don’t stress! Don’t compare yourself to other women or couples that didn’t seem to struggle or plan for a pregnancy, but managed to get pregnant. Don’t get discouraged or feel as if you’re being punished. Your time will come and if it’s not meant to happen for you biologically, think about adoption and fertility treatments. Hey, you might even decide that planning for a family is not your thing. Some couples are childless and happy!

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2. Once you’re pregnant, everyone will have an opinion!
It’s funny how everyone feels the need to express their opinions. For me, it was especially aggravating because we did not find out the sex of our baby until after the birth. Additionally, I had no news to report since I didn’t suffer from any physical ailments, except for swollen feet towards the very end of my pregnancy. For the most part, I wanted my pregnancy to be MY experience before anyone else and didn’t feel the need to broadcast every detail. I found that some people actually felt entitled to know everything. Others felt a need to remind me that I could still miscarry – yup, thanks!

The lesson: Opinions are just opinions. Some people feel the need to scare new mommies because that’s how they were treated. Other kind souls will wish you well and some will disregard everything, to each their own. Just remember not to take it personally.

3. You will change.
We all know we physically change and whether we get back to our “old” pre-pregnancy body isn’t the point. We change physically, but we also change emotionally. We suddenly care A LOT about someone else. We become a mom by providing a safe world for our babies from day one. We sympathize with other moms who struggle and look tired, we celebrate each other’s triumphs, and we understand the juggling it takes to build and maintain a household.

The lesson: Even if you can fit into those old jeans, revel in the fact that you’re not the same. You’re a better version of yourself and your children will help you grow, learn, and mature more than any other person will. Embrace it.

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4. No amount of baby books, research, or advice will prepare you.
Although we wish to be extremely prepared (getting the best crib, researching the best stroller, visiting the daycare options etc.), there isn’t a way to 100% prepare for parenthood. The sleep deprivation isn’t like the deprivation you experienced after a night of partying or during college, cramming for finals – it’s real deprivation. Deprivation to the point of hallucination. There’s no preparation because it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

The lesson: A relief. You can’t test out parenting or do a sample session and think you’ve got it. You’ve got to do it all the way. Once you have all those perfect supplies and tools in place, then all you can do is take it day by day. Each family is different, but there’s comfort in knowing that being a good mom means doing what is best for your family.

5. Expect the unexpected – always!
I have been blessed with a first child that is very unpredictable. He is also extremely sweet, fun, energetic, intuitive, and amazing. For example, our journey with breastfeeding was extremely difficult, but we persevered by seeking support. I didn’t expect such a challenge ahead, but once I realized I had to work harder, I stepped up. Additionally, all those situations – including when he pooped through his onesies or spit up on other people or the dreadful crying through the bewitching hours of the night – became glimpses of the surprises ahead. As a former manager in retail (who’s always in charge and a bit controlling), I was taken aback with this sudden craziness, but in the end, I learned to let go and revel in the fact that I had no control.

The lesson: Live your life! Enjoy the chaos and use it as a learning tool! This is a chance to learn under pressure and use the fight or flight intuition we are so blessed with. This is the beauty of challenge: it passes and you learn!

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6. Your child’s father may or may NOT be a great parent.
The truth for married women is that we married our man because we love them. It’s can sometimes be a different story when husbands become fathers though. I truly believe that it’s all learned, so if your husband did not have a great example of a father growing up, you might unfortunately deal with that repercussion. Truthfully, I’m a teacher in many ways, so I use this experience to help my husband grow and not lose sight of what life is about. Some men inevitably drift away, and the sooner you realize that, the better. For me, in my household, we are spiritual and we believe in prayer. Find what works to keep the marriage alive.

The lesson: After 15 years of knowing my husband and 5 years of being married, I still can’t say that I know everything about love and relationships, but I do know that it takes work. Remember to be a wife/companion first and foremost, and remind yourself that women are naturally better at some things. Additionally, seek a support system and execute goals and expectations.

7. Perfect babies do not exist.
Our children’s health and internal well-being isn’t always a given. Colic, allergies, ear infections, autism, jaundice, heart conditions, vision problems – you name it – our babies can come with health problems or even hereditary ailments and it sucks! Some are lifelong and others are temporary. As the mother to a special needs child, I know better than most that perfect babies don’t exist, but you’ll love your child all the same. I won’t allow my child’s journey through it to dictate our happiness.

The lesson: Research, find the BEST doctor, join some support groups, ask for prayers, get out more, and live! Unfortunately, a lifelong diagnosis can be very difficult to accept, but once you do, it becomes easier to be a warrior and the support system your child needs.

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8. You might enjoy the little things more!
Because you don’t necessarily have the time or space to carve out alone time for yourself, you really cherish the moments that you do. How awesome is it to enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee at your leisure? Or going out alone? Or even using the bathroom in peace? It’s actually awesome to enjoy life like this because as your former childless self, you might have never seen the beauty in life’s simplest moments because you never truly appreciated them for what they were. Plus, having the energy to do anything might feel amazing for a change!

The lesson: Everyday is awesome and every challenge is an opportunity! If you felt stuck, alone, or depressed, that’s also normal. Know that this too shall pass and it will! Just think, you carried a human inside your body and became a mother to a beautiful child through a miracle/adoption. How amazing is life? For the moms in need of a little more help, reach out to a friend, family, or babysitter!

9. You will become your child(s) biggest supporter!
Moms know best. We are blessed with this ability to know our children and help them in life. I can attest that I feel deeply connected to my sons, without even having to speak to them. The depth of our bond and connection is beautiful. So, don’t be afraid to say “no” to others’ suggestions or thoughts. At the same time, don’t be shy to recognize when your input isn’t needed or if you’re wrong. Maybe your kids know best too.

The lesson: You are your child’s strength! They felt comfort in your arms from day one and look up to you! Be the voice and example you would want or the support you never had in a parent, but always wanted.

10. You will find purpose.
Maybe you had an immense amount of purpose before having a baby, maybe you always longed to be a mother, maybe you happened to become a mother without any effort – whatever brought you to this reality might have given you purpose or reinforced the purpose you already felt. For me, I feel an incredible amount of joy watching my kids grow. I also feel a need to use my time as a stay-at-home mom to make crafts, cook/bake, and continue to be a great wife/friend/sister, etc. Whatever passion you have as a mother gives you purpose and will also bring you happiness, ability, and peace.

The lesson: Follow your passion and do it willingly and happily. Be the best version of yourself. Don’t forget about your sanity and joy. Let your “yes” be your “yes” and your “no” be your “no”!

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Marlene Patti

Stay at home mom/Real Estate

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Published on December 20, 2019

Is Authoritarian Parenting Good or Bad for Your Child?

Is Authoritarian Parenting Good or Bad for Your Child?

Kate sits down to the dinner table and is eager to be a good girl and eat her dinner like her Mom and Dad want her to do. She is a sweet girl who wants the approval of her parents very much. It is not always easy though. During dinner, she stands up and starts to leave the table because she has to use the bathroom. Her Dad yells at her to sit back down. He tells her “we don’t just get up from the dinner table, we wait and ask to be excused after everyone is finished eating.” She begins to protest, wanting to explain that she needs to use the bathroom. Her father becomes more upset with her and yells at her that she is now talking back and she is not allowed to say another word at the dinner table until everyone is finished eating and then she can be excused.

Unfortunately for Kate, she can’t hold it, and she has a little accident because she is too fearful to say a word to her Dad. She doesn’t want to get yelled at anymore. She also knows that in her home, kids don’t have a say. What Mom and Dad say is like words carved into stone. They are strict beyond reason and they will not bend their rules. Therefore, Kate felt that she had no choice in the matter and when she could no longer hold it. There was nothing she could do about it.

Kate’s parents are an example of authoritarian parenting. They are strict, they are not emotionally engaged with their children, and they have very high expectations for their children. This type of parenting style leaves children feeling disconnected from their parents.

Kate wanted to communicate to her parents that she had to use the restroom, but she couldn’t even get her words out because her parents have such strict rules and demands of her. They did not care to hear what she had to say, because upholding their rules was more important to them. In their household, a child’s opinions and feelings do not matter.

This kind of strict parenting is not helpful for children. It can damage a child and leave them with low self-esteem, mental health issues, and doing poor academically among other problems cited by research in Parenting Science.[1]

What Does Authoritarian Parenting Look Like?

In the 1960’s, a researcher and theorist by the name of Baumrind established the well known theory of parenting styles. Those four parenting styles, which are well known today, are authoritarian, authoritative, passive, and neglectful. For proactive parents that are trying hard to be good parents, they will usually lean toward either authoritarian or authoritative.

Authoritarian parenting involves strict parenting and high expectations for children. This can sound reasonable and even like good parenting. However, the strict parenting is often characterized by lack of compassion toward the child, little to no flexibility in rules, and complete control sought over the child’s behavior.

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Parents who use this parenting style believe it is their job to control the will and behavior of their children. An article in Psychology Today explains how authoritarian parents operate:[2]

Authoritarian parents believe that children are, by nature, strong-willed and self-indulgent. They value obedience to higher authority as a virtue unto itself. Authoritarian parents see their primary job to be bending the will of the child to that of authority—the parent, the church, the teacher. Willfulness is seen to be the root of unhappiness, bad behavior, and sin. Thus, a loving parent is one who tries to break the will of the child.

For example, Jake has authoritarian parents. He wants to stay out past curfew on a school night because he has an opportunity to play in a jazz ensemble. He has been playing the saxophone for years and his ambition is to play in a college jazz ensemble.

With Jake still being in high school, his parents have a curfew. On school nights, it is 8:00 pm. This rule is instituted because his parents believe they need to ensure that Jake gets his school work done each night and that he needs to be well rested for school the next day. However, they don’t explain the why of their rules to him, they simply tell him that those are their rules. The jazz ensemble is practicing at 8:00 pm on a Thursday night and they have invited Jake to come play with them. It is a well known group and a huge opportunity for Jake.

Unfortunately, his parents say no. Their authoritarian parenting style is unwavering. He wants to discuss the opportunity and its importance, but his parents will not even entertain the conversation. They stop him mid-sentence and go over their rules again. There is no flexibility.

If Jake’s parents had been authoritative, they would have taken the time to hear out his case and would likely have granted him a later curfew for that one instance. They would see that, although they have a curfew, there are some instances when an opportunity is worth bending the rules. They would ask that he has his homework done before going to play with the group, and that he come home as soon as the practice was finished.

Authoritative parents have rules, but they are also flexible based on reasonable requests for exceptions. The authoritative parents are interested in how their children are thinking and feeling. Conversely, authoritarian parents are not likely to be interested in hearing their child’s thoughts and feelings, because they want to control the will of their child, not come to some middle ground.

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Here are some characteristics of authoritarian parenting:

  • They have strict rules that are unyielding and unwavering. This is often called “heavy handed parenting.”
  • They do not want input from the child about rules. They also feel that the child’s opinion does not matter, because they are the parent thus are the supreme authority over the child.
  • There are severe punishments when rules are broken.
  • There is an emotional disconnection between parent and child, because the parent is not interested in what the child thinks or feels. They are more interested in controlling the behavior of the child and having the child be compliant to their rules.
  • Children are expected to listen to their parents and follow the rules, there are no exceptions. A child that voices their objections will likely be punished for doing so.
  • The parents have high expectations, especially when it comes to compliance of their rules.
  • Parents expect that their child will be obedient and they do not need to explain the “why” of their rules and expectations. Compliance is expected out of sheer obedience, not because the child understands the reasons why the rules are set. Parents do not feel the need to explain why they set their rules.
  • There is a failure to have attached relationships between parent and child because of the overly dominant nature of authoritarian parents and their unwillingness to allow their children to have their own voice or free will.

Authoritarian parents are driven by a belief that they need to control their children. This means controlling their children’s behavior to an extreme. They are inflexible and don’t take into account the child’s desires, emotions, or well-being as being as important to enforcing rules to get the desired outcome. Authoritative parents on the other hand, seek to guide and direct their children instead of control. There is a distinction.

The Problems of Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parenting has many negative consequences to children. Children who are raised in homes with extreme authoritarian parenting are more likely to become dependent on drugs and alcohol, have lower academic performance, and increased mental health issues according to Parenting for Brain.[3] Children who are raised with authoritarian parents are also more likely to have lower self esteem, inability to make decisive choices, and have social skills that are lacking.

When a child is raised to be taught day in and day out that their voice does not matter, then that child will likely be ingrained with that belief. They will not value their own opinions because they have been taught that what they think does not matter and is of no value. This leads to poor self-esteem and low self-worth.

If a child doesn’t believe that their thoughts matter, then what they think about themselves overall is going to be affected. They will not think highly of themselves or believe that what they think, say, or do is of value. This will contribute to low self-esteem long term.

Social skills will suffer because a child who comes from an authoritarian home will be trained to believe that nobody wants to hear their opinion and that relationships are based on compliance.

For example, Judy is raised in an authoritarian home. She is now 18 years old and has her first boyfriend. Anytime that he asks something of her, even if she internally disagrees, she feels that she is supposed to comply and do what he says in order for him to like her and continue wanting to be with her.

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He wants to have sex. She does not feel that she is ready, but she will not voice this to her boyfriend because she doesn’t think that her opinion will matter or that he will want to listen to what she is feeling. She goes along with sex in their relationship to be compliant. She doesn’t want to be punished by disagreeing with not having sex. He says that they are ready for that next step in the relationship and she fears that the consequence of saying no would be that he ends the relationship.

Therefore, she doesn’t even voice her thoughts or feelings on the situation because she doesn’t think they have value or will be heard anyway.

She has been taught by her parents that her opinions and feelings don’t matter. She has learned from the past 18 years with her parents that what matters most is that she is compliant. She gets along with her parents best when she is doing exactly what they want her to do. This is why she feels the need to do the same with her boyfriend.

Going along with his decisions, being compliant, and not voicing her feelings will keep the relationship going and avoid conflict or punishment. The ultimate punishment in her mind would be that he ends the relationship.

With her opinions never being valued by those who she has loved the most (her parents), she has learned that she should not voice her opinion if she wants to keep the other person in the relationship happy. In her mind, because of how she has been raised, compliance overrides all else, and her opinion is meaningless.

However, her boyfriend is not her parents. He is understanding and would want to know how she feels. He wants a long term relationship with her and he loves her so much. His true desire is for her to be happy. He would never want her to have sex if she wasn’t feeling the same way that he was feeling. He would gladly wait and would want to hear what she thinks and feels about taking their relationship to the next level.

Authoritarian parenting methods can inflict great harm on a child. The child becomes emotionally damaged because they grow up believing that their opinions, thoughts, and feelings do not matter. Instead they are taught that compliance and being obedient supersedes all else.

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The Solution

The solution is to move from authoritarian parenting methods to authoritative parenting practices.

Authoritative parenting has been deemed as the best parenting method by researchers, according to Psychology Today. Parents who use authoritative parenting methods have rules for their children, but they are not looking for blind compliance. They recognize that having a relationship with their child is of great importance and therefore valuing the child’s voice, opinions, and thoughts is important.

Authoritative parents seek to guide and direct their children, but they do not seek to control the will of their child.

Parenting Coach Plan explains the foundation of authoritative parenting as the following:[4]

Authoritative parenting can be described as a style of parenting that combines firm limits and clear boundaries with fair and consistent discipline. Authoritative parents are also nurturing, highly-involved, and willing to speak openly with their child regarding expectations and the consequences for failing to meet those expectations. Rules are enforced and fair consequences are put in place for when those rules are broken.

Children raised in authoritative homes follow the rules because they understand the “why” of the rules. They are also bonded to their parents because they are able to talk to their parents openly. This bond helps nurture a positive home environment and a two-way relationship that can last a lifetime.

To learn more about how to be an authoritative parent and how to discipline a child using this parenting method, check out my article:

How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

Reference

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