In Search of That Elusive Parenting Manual
“Successful Parenting is NOT about You being Perfect!
Successful Parenting is about You Being as Present as
You possibly can in YOUR Mind, Heart & Soul – in every encounter with Your children!”
Let The Parenting Begin …..
We brought our first son Cole home on Monday, Labor Day 1996. Labor Day! No pun intended.
Exhausted, we pulled into our driveway that evening about the time the sun was setting. I parked the car and helped my wife into the house, she sat on the couch in our living room. I hurriedly went back to the car to get Cole. He was strapped into one of those car seats, sleeping, and my first challenge with a newborn occurred. I could not get the baby basket to release from its base. Tugging, pulling and flabbergasted – I was finally able to get the baby basket to release. “Boy it’s been a challenge getting this baby home” I thought.
Cole was asleep in the basket and I brought him into the house and set the basket on the floor in front of my wife. I sat on the couch along side her. We both looked at each other and smiled. In a nonscripted unison we turned to look at Cole to see his eyes wide open looking back at us. In the instant my eyes met with the eyes of this little human being, my excitement and exhaustion quickly turned to a contained panic. “What do you do now ….. Dad?” I thought.
During the first 6 months Cole taught us how to parent him, letting us know what he needed. He would let us know through his laughs, tears, cries, hollers, coos, awakenings at night, his smiles – we learned to respond. By being attentive, my wife and I learned how to take care of him. He taught us what he needed and we were learning to be parents. But just when we thought we had the parenting thing down, the little guy started to crawl and crawl all over he did. It all CHANGED!
Where is that darn parenting manual? When we had our second son, Duncan, in January 2001 there still was no parenting manual given out. For sure parents should receive a manual once having a second child, come on, help a parent out! “There is no parenting manual that comes with kids”, I have heard that statement many times ….. or is there a manual after all?
Fear & the Other Side
The four of us went camping over the 2003 spring break holidays. We camped at a beautiful State Park — Falls Creek Falls — in Tennessee. It is a wonderful place to visit and explore with breathtaking views, hiking trails, and waterfalls.
Some of the hiking trails have suspension bridges connecting the trails over vast gorges, some bridges being more than 100 feet high. Much like the one in the Indiana Jones movie. As my wife, two boys and I approached a very long bridge suspended at least 150 feet high and 100 yards long (yes, the fish was that big!), my oldest son quickly took off across the bridge and yelled for the rest of us to join him.
As I approached the bridge, while he was crossing, I yelled out to him the typical parent concerns – “Be careful!” “Hang onto the rail!” “Walk slow!” “If the bridge breaks….” What was I thinking? What was I feeling? What was I saying?
I became acutely aware of an enormous amount of fear in me, and a fear for him while he was crossing this high bridge. When he got to the other side, he turned, waved and yelled, “Come On Dad”! As I walked slowly across the bridge noticing the incredible amount of fear and runaway thinking happening within me, and which had me considering not going forward. My son was on the other side and I had a CHOICE, to let the fear stop me or not.
As I walked across the bridge the fear inside of me amplified until I got to the other side. Once I was over the bridge, my son and I high-fived and walked back across the bridge in a matter of seconds. As we walked back across the bridge I profoundly experienced no fear. “What happened to the fear?” I wondered.
That experience highlighted this point. There are times in our lives when we want to do something – be a better parent, improve our personal or work lives, go for our dreams – but fear can creep up inside of us and we become unsure of ourselves. Unsure if we can achieve getting to “the other side”.
“Most of the fear that stops us from achieving what we truly desire
in our lives is nothing more than
irrational thinking and self-limiting beliefs.”
If I had been on my own, I may have very well turned back. My 6 year old was the catalyst which caused me to choose to keep going forward – to go for it – despite my fear. He offered me a lesson about fear, doubt and self-limiting beliefs. I needed to be reminded that fear is only a feeling created by a thought – many times an irrational thought(s) to be understood and to be overcome. An obstacle that is limiting at best and paralyzing at worst. Can we learn to parent with no fear?
Photo: Flickr/Woody Hibbard
© 2015 Joseph Gandolfo, M.A., LPC 678-640-0000 [email protected]