5 Things New Parents Need To Remember (From Someone Raised By Old Fashioned Ones)

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Congratulations! You’re now expecting or just had a child! Time to go out and buy all the baby toys and forgo any semblance of a regular sleep schedule. But it’s all good, because you have a new human to love (or soon enough).

You can experience so many new memories and you’ll finally understand what it was all about when your parents were trying to raise you.

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Believe me when I say a child’s upbringing is super important. That may sound obvious to most, but eventually we all fall back on the same thought of “I’ll just do the best I can with what I know.

Now there’s nothing wrong that. After all, there’s no perfect guide to Parenting 101. But it is possible to, at the very least, make an effort to increase your knowledge in an effort to be a better parent.

I’m going to say this now — I’m not a parent. I don’t know the actual stresses of parenting nor do I have to worry about the next PTA meeting (yet). But I think sometimes when someone is a parent, their advice is skewed. They’re just offering up what they did and what worked for them. That doesn’t mean it’ll work for you and your child.

Growing up with more old-fashioned parents, there are a lot of things I wish would’ve been different looking back at my own childhood, so here are my pieces of advice to all you new parents about raising kids who will grow to love and respect you.

1. Failure is okay. Seriously.

I cannot stress how important this is. As your child grows up, they’ll want to try all sorts of things. Maybe it’s football or maybe it’s ballet. Regardless of their choice, you might think they won’t be cut out for it. But let them try.

I know it might hurt to see you child fail and be sad, but failure is one of life’s greatest teachers. How will they truly know if they can do something or succeed if they’re not even given the opportunity to try?

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2. Support your kids' dreams, no matter how crazy they seem.

This goes hand-in-hand with the first one. While your child may fail at things they try, they’re also bound to find things they’re good at too. If your kid discovers they like science and want to turn that into a career in aeronautics, tell them they can.

If your kid wants to be the next president, tell them they can do that too.

One of the worst things I had to grow up with was constantly being told no to any ambition I had (unless my parents thought I could actually do it, which was rare). And over time, it felt like I became very limited in my choices for the future. Don’t limit your child. Tell them they’re capable of anything they set their mind to and remember, if they fail, that’s okay too.

3. Let your child set the bar for expectations.

There are two points I want to make about this. First, don’t force your child to get straight A’s. Second, don’t tell them what they’re going to be (for a career).

When it comes to grades, it’s easy for anyone to get top marks in elementary school as long as there’s a little effort. But just because your kid manages that then, doesn’t mean they’re going to be a genius by the time high school comes around. It took years for my parents to understand that the A’s just weren’t going to happen anymore unless it was P.E. They weren’t necessarily strict about grades, but it felt like there was an expectation for me to rank high.

Secondly, don’t say they’re going to be (insert career here). It comes back to feeling limited. Leave the door open and let them decide their future. Let them choose how high they want to fly instead of setting a bar that they might not reach.

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4. Try to understand what your child is doing.

This one applies to more in the future, but just because it’s down the road doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep it in mind. You should always be making an effort to understand what your kid does, but especially when it comes to jobs. If you want to help in the job search, learn about what they’re doing.

For example, if your child gets a degree in journalism with a concentration in news, don’t keep recommending public relations jobs. It’s not the same thing.

But regardless of examples, if you really want to help you should become more knowledgeable in the area. Or, if it’s way over your head, just have faith in your kid that they can do it themselves.

5. Please listen to your kids. Like, actually listen.

Lastly, it all comes down to communication. Have you ever heard the phrase “you hear, but you don’t listen"? That tends to mean that you hear what a person is saying just so you can come up with a response.

I want to emphasize this so much. You need to learn to LISTEN to your child. Sometimes your kid will just want to vent, so don’t give them the “life is hard” speech. Seriously, don’t. That’s common knowledge.

Knowing the difference between hearing and listening will do wonders for your future parent-child relationship. Try to understand how they feel, comfort them when they’re upset and just hear them out when they want to talk. You don’t always have to offer a solution. Sometimes all they really need is an ear.  

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Jesse Oakley is a writer who writes about love, relationships and self-care.