The title of this post is a bold claim, but it’s also why this website exists. The “Our Story” page explains why we created Bountiful Potential, but lets dig into it bit more…
Why is Parenting the Hardest Job in the World?
Here are a few of the reasons:
- It’s a huge responsibility. You’re raising the next generation of adults, and what you do now can have life-long repercussions for you and your child. This fact alone can generate a lot of worry
- There’s no day (or night) off. Kids need attention when they need it, no matter how tired you are. You don’t get to “leave work at work,” or take a few weeks off and come back to it later. This makes it physically and emotionally exhausting
- It requires an immensely diverse skill-set that spans everything from basic common sense through to nutrition, health, psychology, how to teach, and beyond. There’s no way of knowing absolutely everything you need to know
- Kids don’t come with an instruction manual. Every child is unique and has their own needs, which is one of the reasons you get conflicting advice. You routinely need to make decisions when you have no idea what the actual problem is let alone what course of action would be best (e.g., your newborn is crying which could mean any one of hundreds of things; what are you going to do?)
- It’s a constant juggling act with often fuzzy goals. We want what’s best for our child, but what exactly is that? Where’s the boundary between encouraging a child to persevere, and pushing them to live our dreams? When should let them solve their own problems, and at what point should we intervene? How do we… okay, that’s enough for now
NOTE: To be clear, this in no way belittles other tough jobs that require specialist skills, years of training, courage, etc.
The Most Important Job Too?
You’re raising the next generation of adults, what could be more important than that? They’ll take over from us one day, and will shape the future of humanity. There will always be opportunities, challenges, and there’s no way that our generation will solve all problems. The only thing we can do, is make sure that the next generation is better equipped to seize opportunities and solve problems than we are.
Yes, every job is important, from president to garbage man (as anyone who has lived through a garbage worker strike will know). Still, there will be nobody capable to take over those jobs in future, unless parents (with support from the wider community) do a good job of raising the next generation.
A priest once told me that educating your child should start before birth. That might sound strange, but recent research confirms that children are already learning things such as language (link). Our daughter could clearly hear sounds from outside the womb, and I often got a surprisingly accurate kick from her when I said goodnight to her.
Likewise, more and more research highlights just how important the first two years of life are (e.g., link). Those two foundational years set the stage for the rest of the child’s life. So, while it’s very draining, my wife and I are giving our child lots of attention because we know it’s worth it in the long run.
Hey, you get to watch your own child(ren) whom you love grow from a tiny human that’s 100% dependent on you, through to an adult capable of making his/her own decisions. Correction, you’re not just watching, you’re right there guiding and mentoring them all the way. When they succeed at something, you played a part in that. When they overcome a difficult challenge, you played a part of that too. That’s immensely rewarding.
Now, I’m aware that some parents end up disappointed with their children. A few quick thoughts. Firstly, have realistic expectations, of course you’ll be disappointed if you defined success as your child becoming the president, a doctor, or anything else that you wanted but he/she didn’t. Secondly, history is full of people who fell to great depths of despair and failure, and then raised themselves up again. There’s always hope…
At the end of your life, your own memories will pass away when you do. The things you bought may last a little longer. However, the values, lessons, faith, work-ethic, etc., that you pass on to the next generation won’t die. Instead, the will ripple out through both space and time into the future, and they’ll affect countless people. There’s real power in good parenting, so let’s make it a priority to do our best.
Cover photo credit: John Hain