I am one of millions who watched the TV news specials the night your royal baby boy was born. It was almost 31 years ago, but I remember well how that felt – how wonderful it was when my husband and I had our first child, also a son. When our two daughters were born, 4 and 2 years later, it was just as wonderful. I was blissfully happy and very unaware of the trials that lay ahead on my parenting journey. My children are all adults now. With one of them it was a very rocky road. These are a few things I wish someone had told me.
– This child you fell madly in love with the moment you laid eyes on him, may one day reject your love and break your heart. He may even tell you he hates you and that your decisions ruined his life.
– Your child can easily become your sole focus, the center of your world. They can even become an idol. You begin to need them to do well and excel to be able to feel good about yourself. Too much of your personal fulfillment comes through them. Don’t let that happen. Your value and worth are not determined by your child’s success, or lack of it. If they falter, where does that leave you?
– Your job as a parent will change when he turns eighteen, your role will change from teacher/nurturer and disciplinarian, to adviser and friend. Prepare yourself for that. It will come all too soon – although there will be days you long for it, when the time comes you will grieve. You may even feel lost for a bit until you find new direction.
– He won’t need you as much when he becomes an adult (even an older teenager), but you can always have a place in his life as mom and dad. In many ways your job as parent never ends. However, you’ll have to work to find ways to connect with him as an adult. Learn about his hobbies and interests, educate yourself about them, show interest in what he likes. It will draw him to you.
– While he’s growing up, if you ever discover he’s being bullied, get involved immediately. Come to his aid and don’t leave him to solve the problem on his own. Do whatever it takes to stop the bullying and protect him from its damage. Statistics have shown the long term affects of bullying on a young, developing child can be devastating to their over-all emotional development well into adulthood.
– From this day forward you will be more vulnerable to pain – his pain. It’s like you’re walking around with your heart on the outside of your chest – easily wounded and broken by whatever wounds or breaks him. I’m so sorry to tell you this. It is a harsh reality.
– Above all, be sure to tell him how much you love him. Over and over again. Every day. He can’t hear it enough, even though you may think it unnecessary because of all the ways you show him. He still needs to hear it. Especially tell him there is nothing he could ever do that would cause you to love him any less or any more than you always have. No matter what. One day he may really need to know it – to have it stored firmly in his memory bank to retrieve after a failure or two. I promise you will never regret it if you do this.
This is my list. It could be much longer. I find it hard to believe I’m a grandparent now! God bless you and I wish you the best as you seek to raise your child the best that you can in a very challenging world.
I’d like to leave you with an encouraging word from the best guidebook of all time, the Bible:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. ” (James 1: 5 NIV)
*The photo is my son holding his first child, my first grandchild. Precious.