Instructions Not Included

Sometime between asking myself if it was one or two little blue lines that I was looking at on the pregnancy test kit, I realized that my wife and I were going to have a baby. Our first.  This was joyful news for us, and I remember a lot of laughter and happy tears.

About half an hour later, on my way to work, I realized that I probably needed to get my act together as an adult, because there was now a tiny person depending on us for everything.  I wouldn’t say that I was scared by this thought, but I did have a sense that I wasn’t totally sure what I was in for.

Nearly a decade later, I can say with confidence - yes, I had no clue what I was in for.

None of us are ever totally ready to parent because we’ve never met our own kids before.  So to say that I knew how to be a dad to my son in those first days and weeks is ridiculous.  My son, like my two daughters, is his own person with his own thoughts, interests, personality, and needs.

There are no clear instruction manuals for children; no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting.  Sure, there are some basics that apply to all children like “Make sure to give kids a bath!” And “Always make sure children are securely buckled in their car seats!” Or “Spend time engaging with your children!”  But this last point can look different for each child.  Our kids are unique, and they need a unique approach to parenting.

Try to find out one new thing about your child today.  It might be something they’re just starting to find interesting.  It might be a new thought they had.  Part of parenting is meeting our kids where they are, rather than expecting them to come to us, or even meeting us in the middle.  When we engage our kids, we’re letting them know that they’re good, and interesting, and worth the effort.