Ten parenting paradoxes

This is excerpted from the book, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years" by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser, the ParentsPlace.com Parenting Experts.

"Motherhood brings as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion and sorrow too. Nothing else will ever make you as happy or as sad, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality -- especially while you struggle to keep your own."
-- Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons

Parenting is full of paradoxes. And paradoxes keep parents growing and flexible. Here are just some of the many paradoxes inherent in parenting. You look at them one way, and they make sense. Then you turn them upside down, and they make sense that way, too:

  1. It's useful for parents to have a consistent parenting philosophy, but also to be flexible and able to adapt to the uniqueness of any given situation.
  2. It's important for parents to pass on family traditions and values, but also to allow children to be unique individuals.
  3. Encouraging children to express their thoughts and feelings increases the chances that they'll stand up to you.
  4. Effective teaching isn't always rewarded by immediate changes in behavior or tidy resolutions.
  5. Children move toward independence and dependence at the same time.
  6. Parents can be delighted and enthused at the new things their kids can do, and simultaneously feel the loss of their child's younger self.
  7. When you cultivate independence in your kids, they sometimes become independent in a way that leaves you out.
  8. Parents can love parenting one minute, and hate it the next.
  9. Your biting, hitting, pushing child can actually be evolving into an empathetic, caring individual.
  10. We're preparing children to live in a world that we can't possibly imagine.

Becoming the Parent You Want to Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years, by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser (Publisher: Broadway Books; $20.00; Paperback; ISBN: 0553067508). Copyright © 1997 by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser. Excerpted with permission of Broadway Books, a division of the Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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