Diary of a Dad : Week 40 - There is no rule bookby Adam Riches
Everywhere you look, people try to instil rules upon what you are doing. This is how you should be doing this, you shouldn’t be doing it like that…etc. As a parent, you often find you are pressurised into feeling that you aren’t doing things right. The thing is, there is no such thing as right when it comes to parenting! It has taken me a while to realise that, but it is finally sinking in.
There are a few realisations that have brought me to my philosophical conclusion that parenting is rule-free…
Kids are so unpredictable
You can’t possibly read a book and know how to parent. Each child is totally different to the next - our two are evidence of that. The thing all kids have in common is that they’re unpredictable. No matter how the most “honest” mummies and daddies paint their staged lives on social media, children can be utter catastrophes at times...and that’s totally ok. Accepting the unpredictable nature of your child is the only way you can stop yourself from worrying about what they’re going to do. You can be doing everything “right” and still be getting an outcome that you don’t want. Don’t feel pressured, do what comes naturally to you!
Looking back at the times I’ve felt most pressured as a dad, they all have one thing in common - I’ve been in the presence of others. My newfound mindset of “fuck it” if anything goes wrong (even when it goes drastically wrong) and it makes me feel so much more confident. The pressure I used to feel was because I was thinking about what the “right” thing to do would be. Why? Because my assumption always was that those around me knew what they were doing. The reality is that they didn’t and still don’t. You are your own expert.
Seeing that Perfect Laura’s child has slept all night can seriously make you think you need to parent in a certain way. Sleep is something that so many parents think they have to ace, and there’s nothing worse than seeing other people are (allegedly) winning when you’re very much not. With so much conflicting advice, parents can have a real pressure to conform...but with what specifically? There is no right or wrong way to parent - it’s about what works for you. If you live a routined life, use a routine. If you don’t, then don’t worry!
Parenting is tough
Something I know both me and my wife felt was the need to make it seem like we had our sh together. In a lot of ways we did, but we had a hard time when our boy was first born - don’t we all?! That pressure of seeming like your conforming can drain you further than you already are. When you're sleep-deprived, emotionally drained and on your last legs, don’t fake a smile, ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with waving the white flag from time to time, in fact, in the long run, it’ll mean you’re saner!
If you do have parenting books, use them as a guide, don’t let them make you feel like a failure if you don’t have the “perfect” child after reading them!