Most people have some type of plan regarding how they would like their life to play out -- until they have children. From birth through adolescence, the job of being a parent can be all consuming. While volumes have been written about all of the trials and tribulations of parenthood, preparing yourself for six of the biggest challenges of being a parent can help you make it to high school graduation.
Before the advent of the electric light and modern medicine, parents were too busy protecting their children from physical threats to concern themselves with their preschooler’s “psycho-social behavior skills.” Today, parents not only have to worry about their children’s psychological and physiological development, they have to deal with issues such as academic concerns and drug use. With all the seemingly never-ending pressures parents deal with, mental strain is without question one of the biggest challenges of being a parent. To help cope with stress, the Canadian Mental Health Association recommends parents make time for themselves on a regular basis.
From coaxing them to eat their vegetables to fighting over curfew, getting your kids to cooperate with you is one of the true joys of parenthood. Putting up with toddler tantrums and teenage mood swings can cause parents to wonder why they ever wanted children. As a parent who is genuinely concerned about your child’s safety and welfare -- when she only wants to eat toaster pastries and wear makeup so thick that she looks like she belongs in a Mummenschanz troupe -- the only solution to avoid constant fighting is to either establish total authoritarian rule or, as West Virginia University recommends, choose your battles wisely.
Even if you work out like you are training for back-to-back marathons, raising children is physically exhausting. After you cook their meals, wash their dishes and clothes, and pick up their rooms, you still have to get yourself ready for work and the kids off to school. A full night’s sleep has become a distant memory and any thanks you get for all your hard work will most likely only be forthcoming in your dreams. However, making a schedule to set up sharing duties equally with your partner can go a long way towards easing the burden on both of you.
Food, clothing, doctor’s visits, education and trips to Disney World, raising children is an expensive endeavor. Unless you have made financial plans, or are independently wealthy, the expense of raising children is frequently a serious challenge for parents. Jared Bernstein, Chauna Brocht and Maggie Spade-Aguilar of the Economic Policy Institute report that establishing a budget will help working parents maintain “a safe and decent standard of living.” If you haven’t done it already, creating a budget with your spouse will help you determine where you may need to make adjustments in your spending.
Forgotten Ambitions and Dreams
Parents often become so consumed with raising their children they forget about all their own aspirations, such as earning that graduate degree and visiting Europe. However, as the saying goes, where there is a will there is a way, so don’t let the challenges of being a parent make you abandon your own goals and dreams. Saving just a few dollars each month can make that trip abroad a reality and more top-rated colleges are adding more online programs every year, so you can go back to school and earn your doctorate right from home.
Seeing your children graduate high school can evoke strong feelings. On one hand, you will feel thrilled that you and your child made it through all the challenges of childhood, but high school graduation also marks the beginning of the end as your child prepares to leave home for work or college. Letting go as children become adults is often a huge challenge for parents, causing parents to feel a deep emotional loss. However, knowing you did your best to raise your children, and that they will always be your children, should instill a sense of pride while you wait for grandchildren to spoil.