The phases of parenthood

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There are three phases in parenthood.

The first is actually the phase before parenthood. Let’s call it pre-parenthood. The phase usually starts in the late teenage years and end when we have our own children. This phase is filled with pride and arrogance. People in this phase look at other people’s children in disgust and openly proclaim that when they have children, their children would never turn out the same way. People in this phases easily criticize parents for the way in which they are raising their children. People in this phase think they have all the answers. They are quick to point out errors parents make and give unwanted advice. They are really a pain in the behind. I know both sides of the coin. I too, went through this phase when I was young. I thought I had all the wisdom in the world. Only to find out that I was miserably lost when my children came. Then I encountered people in this phase and regularly had murderous thoughts about them. People in this phase are highly irritating and annoying to say the least.

Phase two can be called real parenthood. We have a child that didn’t come with a personalized manual. Sometimes we are on top of it all, sometimes we are hopelessly lost. Sometimes we cope, sometimes we wish there was a way we could resign from parenthood. The pride and arrogance is however still very present in our lives during this phase. We think our methods are the only ones that are right. We think our house-rules are the only ones that make sense. We discard other people’s suggestions as rubbish and push on hardheadedly, fiercely defending our decisions. We try to do everything different from what our parents did. What did they know about life anyway? We are determined to raise well-balanced children that will add real value to society in general. We are somewhat blind initially and do not see the imperfections growing up in front of our very eyes.

Phase 3 comes very unexpectedly. There is no telling when it might hit you. Some people get there while their children are still teenagers. The more stubborn ones like myself, get there a while later. I was very stubborn about my parenthood style and was still fiercely defending it up to about a month ago. How the change come, I don’t know. What changed, I don’t know either. I think it was the fight I had with my youngest. The person in front of me wasn’t the Godly child I raised. It wasn’t the one who respected and loved her mother. The person in front of me had eyes full of anger and the words she spew out shot arrows deep into my heart. I think the change started then, but it took quite a while for me to realize that something has changed. The shock of the encounter numbed me for a few days. Regularly l found myself going back to that fight in my mind, trying to figure out what had happened. When God revealed these parenting stages to me yesterday, the lights came on.

I am in stage three. I cannot call it post-parenthood as that would be technically incorrect. I am still a parent and I will always be. So I don’t have a name for this phase yet. Maybe you can suggest one. But I can tell you what happens in this phase. I suddenly realized that my methods of raising my children were not necessarily the best ones. I suddenly see imperfections in my children that I have never seen before, or, that I have seen before but stubbornly refused to admit. Now I am confronted with those imperfections daily; I can’t ignore then anymore. I am searching my soul to find the extent of my blame for those imperfections. Some of the blame is mine for sure. I am not perfect, and I didn’t raise the perfect children. This is a humbling phase. A phase of deep thinking. A phase of laying my heart bare before the Lord. I was responsible to raise these children in a Godly way and I didn’t succeed. This is a very painful stage indeed.

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