The Hardest Stage Ever
Awhile back I was listening to a podcast from Danny Silk and he joked about each stage of parenting being the “hardest thing ever.”
The tantrums and strong wills of toddlers force you to say, “This is the hardest stage ever!”
Then you have teenagers and their attitudes, “This is the hardest stage ever!”
Soon your children grow up to be adults where you have another resounding, “This is the hardest stage ever!”
Listening to his words made me realize that most often the hardest things we ever face are typically the things we haven’t encountered yet.
It’s only hard because we don’t know what to do. But then we learn and the next time it’s not so hard.
With such a young family, Lisa and I are constantly running into things we’ve never had to deal with before:
- How do we handle strong wills?
- To spank, or not to spank?
- What’s this weird rash?
- Do all toddler boys break this much stuff?
- How do you keep your sanity when nap time starts to transition out?
- Is there an end the amount of energy 4-year-olds have?
- How do you get your child to stay in their freaking bed?
Being the oldest of my mom’s kids I often relate to Asher being the “practice child.” It’s not our intention, and I know it wasn’t my parents’ either, but it’s just natural to learn more and make more mistakes with your first kid.
Granted, our boys two completely different kids so they are handled a little differently. But at the core of it, they are two toddler boys. The problems and stages of growth we see in Asher will eventually happen in Abel, and we will have seen it before.
Just seeing it prior and having a little bit of experience helps make it not so scary; especially with a third on the way. Changing 30 diapers a day, bottles, pacifiers, functioning on 2 hours sleep, and baby carriers are all old hat to us.
But 3 kids is different than 2.
We’ve also got 2 boys. Now we’re having a girl.
Though exciting, the new is a little scary.
The hardest thing for us in a given moment can be really easy for someone else. They may looks at us and think You think that’s hard?! Just wait!
We need that someone in our life.
Where do we get help?
I naturally love information. There’s something in me that wants to consume new things not yet in my brain. I Google just about everything, read several blogs, and also have a stack of “to-read” books in addition to my Kindle queue.
One resource I’ve recently happened upon is the Dad Summit 2.0. Check out some of the speakers and their work. There are some great dads with great stuff that are a part of this annual conference.
For first-time parents my church gives The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley. This is a great book for loving your kids well and instilling self-worth at a early age.
Beyond books and the internet, the greatest resource of information and experience is another human who has gone before us. Oddly enough, that’s actually where the internet and books get all their info. People.
As much as I love to read, for me, there’s something more powerful in actually talking and working things through with another person compared to simply ingesting info and going it alone. My greatest partners in problem solving have been mentors, family members, and friends who are a couple years ahead of me in life.
Not only do I gain knowledge from their wisdom and experience, but I’m able to ask follow-up questions to greater increase my understanding.
One of my favorite parenting knowledge pursuits came on a car ride with 3 friends. They each had children that were 3–7 years older than mine, and I asked their views on disciplining toddlers. Asher was approaching two and was quite the handful. I needed some resources.
Picking the brains of 3 different men all at the same time was a wealth of opinions. Their kids were early in elementary school, so the toddler stage was well-experienced by them, but also fresh in their minds.
Hearing stories from my mom I have the sense that Asher is a lot like I was when I was his age. Who better to give advice than my mom!
As adults it’s easy to look back and see all the ways our parents didn’t raise us well. Their mistakes seem glaring in light of having our own kids. But the reality is they have tons of experience not just with raising kids, but specifically with raising us. That’s a perspective no one else in the world will have. Don’t miss out on this great resource!
Don’t Do It Alone!
When it comes to parenting I can’t imagine trying to figure out some of this stuff on my own. We need other humans and community to tackle “the hardest stages ever” when it comes our way. Going it alone simply perpetuates the difficulty of what’s in front of us because we don’t know what to do.
Get someone who has gone before you and make it a little easier on yourself!
Who are some of the greatest parenting problem solving partners in your life?
Want a New Perspective?
I’ve created a measuring guide to alter how you view your marriage and your spouse. Ask yourself these questions, your mindset will shift quickly.