At The Bookworm, I have engaged in endless discussions with parents who come to pick books with and for their little ones. When it comes to our children, we are transparent and vocal in our views. Different styles of upbringing, parental expectations, varying childrens’ interest in books have got me thinking on friendships, parenting styles and parenthood.
What actually happens to people when they have children? With people who actually love each other from the bottom of their hearts?
The answer to these questions is obvious: when people have children, their view of the world changes forever. When children are small, the radius of life purrs down to your own immediate area, regardless of whether the parents are still a successful marketing manager or a committed senior doctor. The love for the new little creature is so absolute and the fear that something might happen to him is so overwhelming that it is almost unbearable at the beginning. The fact that the development of an earthling is entirely in your hands, this responsibility can feel really overwhelming as a mother or father. Then there is this uncertainty. Am I really doing everything right? Am I taking a wrong turn somewhere in my upbringing, am I screwing up my son’s, my daughter’s, whole life?
And yes, there is unfortunately something else: When a couple becomes a family, the show begins. The games are on! Whose child is the most developed, fittest, potty trained the earliest, shrewdest, funniest? Who puzzles with one and a half, who still mumbles two-word sentences with two and a half, who is considered annoying? Which mother will mutate from the sophisticated woman to the mama bear in a sloppy look? Who is spotted in the health store, who at the discounter? Which couple excels in the discipline of “staying a couple, not just being parents”? Which one rushes back to the 1950s the fastest, which father shows up heroically on Saturday mornings at nine in the playground?
Completely absent in this arena of “We do it better” are unfortunately two things that were so important to everyone in the past: humour and tolerance. These are obviously properties from a parallel universe in which one would have remained childless. Advice is also a blow, and a “friendly hint” is often nothing more than poorly disguised self-righteousness. Check yourself out! Are you really concerned about the well-being of your friend’s son – or are you just proud of your better-on-track child who, in your opinion, clearly shows your superiority in parenting skills? Can you see it? Unsympathetic, right? The truth is that some children are simply more difficult than others in some stages of their upbringing, and it is not always someone’s fault. Maybe you just got what is commonly called a beginner’s model?
Do you know what is more essential than anything in this shark tank of condemnation and constant settlement? Good friends, friends who hug you when the crying phase comes after two sleepless nights. Friends who listen when you confess that the two-year-old is given a lollipop far too often because you want to go home from daycare without shouting. Friends who, in return, confess that they yelled at their own son the other day and sometimes fear that he might have ADHD. Girlfriends who confront us compassionately rather than instructively are vital in the early childhood phase. Young parents need people with whom they can sigh together: It’s all so exhausting. But we can do it. Each and every one in their own way.
Be loving to one another, there is no collision of ideologies when one is breastfeeding and the other is giving the bottle. And one episode of “Peppa Pig” too many isn’t a drama either. If the children argue too much, why not meet alone, in the café for breakfast or in the pub. That is precisely the advantage if you know each other from before and not from the toddler group! You have so many things in common with each other that have nothing to do with children. Why don’t you go away together for a few days like you did back then.
An older, wise friend once said to me: “There is really only one rule: love the child. Oh, and brush their teeth. That is also important. ” And I predict: At the latest when your sons are no longer three, but thirteen, you will come closer again in matters of upbringing – and poke around in the dark together and ask yourself how you can survive this thing called puberty. Unfortunately, neither the baby sling nor the lollipop help. But maybe a shot. Wouldn’t it be nice then if you were still friends?