Successful Parenting Outcomes

Daddy and newborn son
Daddy and newborn son

Recently, four women sat around discussing childbirth. Once you’ve experienced that moment (or those long, arduous hours), there is no going back to the forgetful bliss of beforehand.

Not one of us would willingly exchange our children to avoid the pain. Little did we know, the delivery suite adventure was not the peak of our pain. It was only the beginning.

The real work begins when you have a dependent bundle of tears, wails and excrement that relies on you for everything. A deep sigh of relief doesn’t come when they can finally walk and feed themselves. No, there is more they need to learn. And you are the teacher.

I would have never made it past the first three years of my sons’ lives without the wisdom of my sister. She was a walking talking parenting manual. Later, I would be thankful that my husband had the patience to teach our Velcro-reliant son to tie his shoes and both of those boys to drive (yeah, I gasp and grip the door handle when my husband’s driving so I didn’t have the capacity for that stress).

Only now am I fully able to look at my sons and reflect upon my parenting successes. In the midst of it, the failures immediately announce themselves. We hustle to adjust and change our strategy. If it doesn’t seem to fall apart, perhaps we’re heading our children in the right direction.

Hours of Labor - All Grown Up
Hours of Labor – All Grown Up

The truth of this desire to see our children succeed in more than athletics and scholarship became apparent to me recently.

First, I read this great article by Karen Schelhaas, who restricted unnecessary spending for one year. “The unexpected highlight of the experiment came when I offered to buy my 12-year-old daughter a black shirt at a store, and she responded with “Mom, I already have a black shirt. I don’t need another one.”   That’s right, babe. You don’t.”

My eldest son graduated college but has only landed a couple interviews which netted no job offers. I realize that our emphasis on education placed him in this position, but the ugly state of the economy keeps him from shining forth.

Did we fail him? I don’t think so. Life is ugly at times. We can make all the right choices and still end up unemployed.

Our opportunities to teach don’t end once our kids graduate and move away. Our example,  a megaphone, announces our ideals and convictions.

Hard work pays off. Keep working to find a job and eventually you will land one. Don’t expect your first job to be your dream job; see how many jobs Dad and I have had?

How do you judge the success of your parenting? Is it even right to have a barometer in this arena? Maybe you think it puts too much pressure on the kids. Let’s talk about it.

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.