The only thing you know about parenting a child, you learned by watching your parents. They did some things well, but you want to do some things differently. Parenting a child is overwhelming, frightening. It is unknown territory, wondering what you can do to be a good parent.

Take care of yourself

Parenting a child is a life-long commitment that will take every ounce of strength, courage, and compassion you can muster. You will be tempted at every turn to give of yourself until you don’t have anything left to give. A week from now you’ll ache from head to toe, have sore nipples, and be about 40 hours behind on sleep. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will be so tired you won’t be able to wake up and care for your child.

Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise, and eat well. For a while you may have to sleep whenever the baby does, and you won’t get much done except take care of her. Lower your standards for housekeeping if you need to, but don’t neglect yourself. Get a little fresh air every day and take breaks from the baby. Make time to do what you enjoy doing. Parenting a child is more like a marathon than a sprint, and you have to pace yourself.

Learn about Normal Child Development

Knowing what is normal is one of the most helpful tools you can acquire. There are lots of good books on child development, and there’s a ton of information on the web. When you know something is normal, it’s easier to deal with. In the first place, you know it won’t last forever.

Knowing what’s normal also keeps you from having unrealistic expectations in parenting a child. It’s not likely that your one-year old boy will potty-train because he isn’t physically ready for it. So you don’t expect it from him, and you don’t get upset when he wets his diaper. And you can tell interfering relatives and friends that he’s not ready, and when he is, you’ll potty train him.

Use Your Resources

There are resources available to help you be the best parent possible. Ask for advice and help. Find out what resources are available at your church. Don’t be afraid to call your doctor or health clinic, and do not fear taking your baby in if you have any questions. Hospitals often have classes for parents, and there are many community resources. Find resources and use them and don’t forget to ask questions, collect information, and ask for help.

Parenting a child is a hard job, you can do it though. Just love that sweet little baby, take care of yourself, make time for your marriage, learn everything you can about normal development and use your resources. Parenting a child is also the most rewarding and worthwhile thing you will ever do, and it’s worth doing well.

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