When Does Parenting Get Easier?
It is an absolute understatement to say parenthood is a life-changing experience.
Parenting upends your life in every way possible too. One day, all you’re worrying about is bills, work politics, and what to cook for dinner for you and your spouse, and those seem like big issues then. The next, you’re a first-time sleep-deprived parent who now has a life depending on you. You’re changing diapers almost 10 times a day, and paying through your nose for consumer goods you’ve never had to purchase before.
Does parenting ever get easier though?
The majority of parents would perhaps agree – Parenting never truly ends. You never stop worrying about them, no matter their ages. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Love is the chain whereby to bind a child to its parents.” And true love will always live on.
Let’s explore the realities of parenthood through the years.
0-4 years old: This is the stage you lose sleep, change nappies uncomplainingly, and learn how to care for a life other than your own.
As a newly minted father/ mother, you learn what a deeper family commitment means, and what responsibility means. You’d perhaps become more appreciative of your parents/ parents-in-law if they’re helping out with your child.
Nothing and no one in life will ever prepare you for the many firsts coming your way; The first time your child’s little fingers grab yours, the first time he/she smiles at you, the first spoken word.
Every action your kid does has you fawning at how adorable he/she is, whether is it a cute yawn, or a small twitch of the leg when sleeping.
You’d bear witness to your baby’s first step, first powerful kick (that’s outside of the womb), the first day he/she learns to roll over in bed and lift his little head up. You smile with his/her every smile, a joy blooming from within like no other. You carry them when they cry, and even when they don’t. Suddenly, your life makes sense. Petty politics from work doesn’t bother you as much anymore, because your priorities have shifted. All it matters is the happiness of your family and your precious little one.
Day by day, your infant grows bigger, stronger, and smarter before your very eyes, and becomes a toddler in no time.
As a couple, you are both discovering more about each other in this new role, and what it means to have a partner, especially the benefits of tag-teaming. You learn about previously unsaid expectations, and possibly find yourselves having to re-align with each other on the kind of education you want your kid to have, etc.
If you’re the mother, you learn about your amazing body and what it has just gone through to bring forth a new life, and how difficult childbirth can be. You suddenly find yourself dealing with recovery, new scars, and self-acceptance, hopefully in the absence of post-partum depression.
Most significantly, you stand in awe of the overwhelming love you feel for your child, a love you’ve never experienced, and never thought possible.
5-12 years old: With the blink of an eye, your adorable offspring are no longer crying for milk, your attention, or asking to chomp on soft little biscuits. Off to school, it is.
You’d worry now about different things, things like finances for their tuitions, how well they’re doing academically, and whether they’re making friends. You study along with them, and maybe stress eats when their examinations roll around. You pray for the best when you send them to school, in hopes they’d get good grades.
This is also a lovely period you’re forced to sharpen your negotiation skills daily too, having to negotiate with your child over things like when to buy a toy, how much pocket money they’re asking for, etc.
You’re still very much involved in their lives at this point, nurturing the young minds, and guiding them such that they’d stay in good companies. You can also read our post on how to stop parenting out of fear.
13-24 years old: Things start to relax a bit during this phase, as you watch them blossom from teenagers to adulthood.
While you’re beginning to adopt a hands-off approach towards the tail end of this age bracket, other concerns come to play. While this is an exciting period in their lives, a parent can’t help but also hope they do not get too distracted with affairs of the heart, for fear they’d date and let their grades slip entirely.
As a couple, you’re also perhaps now discovering more free time on your own, and time to spend with your spouse.
25 years and above: One might argue that when parents truly get to relax is when they’ve seen their kid enter the workforce, and be financially independent.
You still hope to shield and protect them, yet recognize you can’t keep them by your side for much longer. The world is their oyster. As you’ve gone through your journey, so must they.
Others would say one stops worrying when their child has finally found a reliable mate to entrust their future too.
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Deborah Choo loves discussing relationships, platonic or not, as that remains at the heart of human existence. She draws upon learnings from couples’ counselling, and continues to celebrate an incredible journey of growth.