Becoming a parent is perhaps the most mind-blowing experience of one’s life. You can’t really begin to imagine the information overload, the deluge of decisions and the overwhelming emotions that arrive in your world along with your child.
One of the greatest challenges of being a parent has to be the avalanche of information and advice that seems to flood in from all angles. An expecting mom only needs to pop to the store to buy her milk and bread and she can just about bank on the fact that some well-meaning person will intercept her with questions and lessons and that’s just the start. From your baby shower to the birth to the early weeks, months and years of parenting, advice abounds.
The trouble isn’t that there’s too much advice, after all it makes good sense to learn lessons from those who’ve already walked this road. The trouble is that so much of the advice given is short-sighted and focused on practical things like a natural or Caesarian delivery, breast milk or formula, routine or demand feeding. Advisors extol the virtues of tummy time and emphasize the importance of a good car seat, and all of this matters, but what’s often missing is the longer-term perspective. After all, an infant is only an infant for a few months, but a parent is a parent for life.
A clear parallel is seen with couples preparing for marriage. Months of discussion circle around the color the bridesmaids will wear, the composition of the bouquet, the cake, the photographer and so on, when really, the wedding itself lasts only a few hours and is simply a gateway into the married life. While preparing for the wedding matters, it’s nowhere near as important as preparing for the marriage itself.
And so, while good parenting relies on a bit of instinct and a lot of coffee, great parenting depends on intentionality.
Amidst all the decisions you’ll be making around brands of strollers and diapers and so on, the best decision you can make is to take some time out with your partner to choose what sort of family life you want to have, what will you have as non-negotiables. Decisions that seem far off are best made now when you can be more objective about what’s important before the pressure from your child or other parents comes to bear.
A few examples:
- How will you prioritize family time? Will you choose one night a week that everyone hangs out together no matter what?
- How important are good manners and how will you model and instill them in your child?
- What are your views on discipline? Do you and your partner agree?
- What sort of food would you like your family to eat?
- What about technology use? What sorts of boundaries (if any) do you believe are important for a child in that regard?
- What are the characteristics that you’d most love to see in your child and how can you be intentional about developing these?
- What sorts of brands are you comfortable with your child wearing? Will you play an active role in deciding on the slogans your child wears?
The Little Miss Mogul brand was born very much from the perspective of a dad who wanted his daughter’s clothing to call her to something more than simply “sweet” or “pretty”. He saw what was on offer in the average store and realized that many intentional and discerning parents of little girls would hope for more for their children.
While these seem to be far off issues, the reality is that right now you’re more objective on such things than you’re ever likely to be again.
As the saying goes of parenting, “The days are long, but the years are short.”
Perhaps the best piece of advice a new parent can hear is to start strong by making some solid decisions right up front.