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Becoming a Parent

Congratulations on your new baby!

Most people have dreamed of becoming a parent since they were toddlers. Children love to dress up like their parents. Even boys love to play with dolls. And ALL children have been heard to mumble: “when I have kids, I’m NEVER going to yell, punish, …..[fill in the blank]”!
Finally, you are expecting a baby and you ARE going to be a parent! All through your pregnancy you dream of this child. You picture her, plan for her education and her future. You start reading parenting books. You are going to be a perfect parent and your child is going to be a perfect child. No mistakes for you!
Then your baby is born. He is tiny. And WAYYYYYY more fragile looking than the baby in your head. And YOU are responsible for the little human being! Whoa…..Suddenly some of the excitement is tempered by a little fear. If you are a mom, you worry about whether your baby is gaining enough weight. If you are a dad….wow…suddenly you realize you have to support a BABY…for 18 YEARS!

And ALL parents worry about whether their child will be normal. There’s so much talk about autism, hormones in our milk, toxic metals in our food (arsenic in apple juice…REALLY?). What is a parent to do? Every book or article you read says something different!

And what about education? If you don’t start teaching your child when he is an infant, he’s going to be behind and not get into college! So you start from day one reading, pointing to alphabet letters, counting and worrying.
Are you panicking yet? Most parents do a little of that. They worry about the big things—growth, intelligence, development. And then there are the little things. Your baby has eczema, or asthma, or a funny bump on his head, or a big birthmark. Yikes. Your baby has just been born, and already he has things wrong with him. How could this be?

So… what is this new baby thing all about? It’s about becoming a parent. Oddly enough, there is a little grief involved in parenting, and a lot of worry. But there it’s also TONS of fun.
All parents have a vision of their [perfect] child and how they are going to raise him, but their real child almost never fits the picture they have had in their mind. Real children are just that—real. They have lots of wonderful characteristics. But like real people, they also have some faults. Parents have to continually readjust their mental picture to conform to their real child. They have to grieve a little for the perfect child they envisioned during their pregnancy and get to know their real child. What are your child’s strengths? Help her build on them! What are her weaknesses? Help her recognize them and learn to overcome them!
Most importantly, have fun being a parent! When you are worried, talk to your parents if they are involved. Remind yourself, that with all the mistakes they made (and yes…all parents make mistakes), they managed to raise YOU! Talk to your pediatrician—we pediatricians have had lots of experience dealing with new parents (and not so new ones) and are here to help!
Look around you. The happiest people are not necessarily the ones who have gone to private schools, ivy league colleges and graduate schools. Nor are they the ones with fancy cars, and lots of “toys”. They are the ones who are proud of their accomplishments, value their family and work hard!
So…in the words of Dr. Seuss:

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away