Parenting Is a Two-Way Street

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • Parents shape the lives of their children and children shape the responses of their parents. For example, new parents feed their baby every few hours, keep him or her dry and warm, and the baby coos, sleeps and looks really cuddly. The babies mold their new parents by the rewards they give to them. The coos, long periods of restful sleep, and the ability to look adorable in some fuzzy “onesy” is all the encouragement a parent needs to keep waking up every few hours a night, not get dressed for days at a time, and give up any social life they once had. It’s simple, right?

    But what happens when you as the parents are doing your job, and the rewards just aren’t coming? What happens when your baby is feeling pretty sick all of the time and he or she is not able to provide you with the parental rewards you so deserve?
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    While not talked about as much as it should be, this situation can be extremely difficult for everyone involved. Some babies are going to be easy going and a variety of parenting styles are going to be appropriate and welcomed. Other babies are going to be much more difficult to parent. If your baby’s reflux is not yet appropriately treated, he or she may be arching her back at meal times and crying and screaming instead of sleeping and looking cuddly. Not very rewarding.

    If you find yourself with a baby who is hard to parent, and not providing you with the rewards you imagined, hang in there. Since the beginning of evolution, the job of families has been to help other family members adapt and survive. Right now, you may just be looking at ol’ fashion survival. Take a minute and just be proud of the very important job you are doing of helping someone else in your family survive. A basic concept, I know, but before our son found appropriate treatment for his reflux, we often felt like we were the worst parents in the world. I am now able to look back on that time and know that we were doing an absolutely amazing job at one of life’s oldest occupations – survival.

    Stay strong. Eventually, your one-way street will turn into a two-way street.

Published On: December 29, 2006