Parenthood is such a blessing but reality checks in and honestly, it is not easy. Stress in parenting is real. We worry about a lot of things – bills to pay, mouths to feed, deadlines to meet, climate change and the whole nine yards. Indeed, we live in troubled times. And though we try our hardest to seem ok, some people see right through us and give advice to console us. God bless those people! However, to be honest, some comments make parents feel more anxious than consoled. These situations somehow make us check our own thoughts and intentions. Do we accidentally do the same with other parents when giving advice?
“You look so drained. Stop having children already!”
People see parents around them looking so tired taking care of their children and that is true. Having children takes much of our time and energy but please don’t tell us to stop having children especially if you do not know the whole picture. “Children are an heritage of the Lord…” (Psalm 127:3) The decision to have children is made by husband and wife and the Lord. However sincere our intentions are, we may make parents feel limited and guilty. When people tell us to stop having children, it makes us feel like it’s our children’s fault that we feel and look exhausted. It is so unfair for the little ones. It feels so unfair to us. We want to have children and we are paying the price to have them in our lives. I am sure parents who spend most of their time taking care of their children are happy. They may look tired but that doesn’t mean they do not feel rewarded for their efforts. A word of appreciation can go a long way if we want to help parents who seem to be spread thin. We can compliment their efforts and if they need us to, let us lend a helping hand.
“Stop feeling that way. It’s a matter of choice.”
Thank you for reminding us of our agency but please allow us to be human. We have all the right to feel angry, exhausted, silent, disappointed, elated – and these feelings need to be validated. It is already hard, and enough pressure is put on our shoulders, without thinking that we shouldn’t feel this way. Sister Reyna I. Aburto said, “My dear friends, it can happen to any of us — especially when, as believers in the plan of happiness, we place unnecessary burdens on ourselves by thinking we need to be perfect now. Such thoughts can be overwhelming. Achieving perfection is a process that will take place throughout our mortal life and beyond — and only through the grace of Jesus Christ.”
All of us are fighting battles, whether we can see them or not. Kind words of encouragement are very helpful. However, let us be more sensitive and remember that sometimes a listening ear weighs more than unsolicited advice. We can talk to them and validate their feelings of exhaustion or fear or anger. A simple word of appreciation for the good they do as parents will definitely brighten their day.
“Don’t worry! Everything will be okay.”
We are already worried and everything will not be okay – at least not right away. Things will sometimes – if not most of the time – go wrong. The plans we make will not always come to pass. Things will at times go bad and sometimes bad things will take a turn for the worse. That is part of our mortal journey. If we worry, that is normal. Please don’t get us wrong. We want things to be okay all the time. Who wouldn’t? But if someone tells us, “Let’s grow through it!” that would make us feel a lot better. Let’s realize that every reason for worry is an avenue for lessons to be learned. We can work hand in hand as parents by asking each other how we can parent better. We may have different circumstances but we have one thing in common – we want to be the best parents for our children. So let’s use that common ground to plant the seed of empathy and compassion and reap the blessings of team work.
There are a lot of reasons why parenthood can be such a Herculean task. That is more so because of the different roles parents need to fill, especially in troubled times. Communication is a vital tool in all relationships. Through proper and sincere communication, walls between people are broken and relationships are strengthened. There are times when, however sincere our intentions are, we sometimes fail to put into the right words what we want to communicate. One thing we can do is to listen. Taking time to listen and to understand someone is an act of charity and when we do listen, we may better console and serve each other.