I have two kids, both under 2 years-old. As a relatively new father, I’m always looking for advice on how to be a parent. I sought the council of my own parents, I got books from the library, and I even asked my wife what she expected of me as a new dad. The one thing I learned first and foremost about how to be a parent was that patience is a virtue.
My daughter, Emma, will turn 2 years old this May. She’s a handful, but always enjoyable. Very rarely does she throw temper tantrums. She was a very happy baby and continues to be a sociable kid. Even though she’s friendly, polite, and funny I quickly discovered that I needed to take a breath and collect my thoughts when dealing with her.
My son, Owen, just turned 3 months-old a couple of weeks ago. He’s still brand new to the world, and like his big sister, always has a smile on his face. He’s very reserved and doesn’t whine unless he’s hungry. He doesn’t even complain when he’s tired. He just nestles down and goes to sleep. Still, when he’s hungry he better get a bottle quick or he’ll scream like no other.
Something that no one ever told me about how to be a parent was that kids don’t care how tired you are, or how hungry you are, or how busy you are. They want what they want, and they want it now. You have to have enough patience for EVERYONE, because you won’t get any consideration from a screaming baby or toddler.
I know that might seem obvious, but try staying awake for over thirty hours straight and then get back to me. You’re dead on your feet, you have projects at the office to worry about, your wife is stressed for her own reasons, and you now have a yodeling child who is relentless in the demands being issued.
Do you still feel like counting to ten and taking a breath to calm yourself, or would you rather start screaming louder than everyone else in the house to get your way?
When you become an adult you might not realize that kids simply haven’t developed the thought processes for getting things appropriately. All they know is that their tummy hurts and you stand the best chance of making it all better. When they don’t get consoled to perfection right away, they get upset. When they get upset they scream.
Crying is a baby’s only real form of communication. Just because my son screams for a bottle doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s mad at me. He just has no other way of letting me know that it’s time to eat. His cognitive reasoning hasn’t developed to the point where a different form of communication is available to him.
As soon as I realized that I didn’t mind my kids screaming so much. I knew that they would stop eventually, even though it often didn’t seem like it.
The second night after we brought my daughter home from the hospital she screamed for six solid hours at the top of her lungs. I was flustered, annoyed, and depressed. Why couldn’t I help her? She had colic and did eventually stop, but at the time I remember just being so impatient with her. I needed her to stop for my own sanity and I felt like a horrible father.
Patience really is a virtue, especially when it comes to your kids. I know that may seem obvious to someone that doesn’t have children, which is why I hope that this idea on how to be a parent gets across to them.