Parenting is the most humbling thing many of us will do in our lives. The joys of shaping the hearts and minds of children are tremendous—but the trials are, too. Even those of us who are calm, cool and collected in other arenas of life can find ourselves at the end of our mental and emotional ropes where it comes to the kids.
But that’s not all bad! The things in life that challenge us that also shape us—stretching and growing us in ways we didn’t think possible! Here are five changes that you may see in your own life:
1. Increased accountability. Training children requires that we model the behavior we’re asking them to live up to. So since we don’t want our kids to do things like smoke or use bad language, we don’t either. Raising kids raises the bar for our own behavior, and that’s a good thing. That constant accountability keeps us living in line with our stated values. Kids are extremely observant and brutally honest—they’ll tell you when your walk doesn’t match your talk, and most parents are better off for it.
2. Enhanced patience. Whether you’re waiting for a 5-year-old to master tying his shoes before you can leave for school, or working on a long-term issue with an older child, parenting will require more patience of you than any other role in your life. While we never reach perfection in this area, most moms will tell you that they’ve been forced to become more patient to survive parenting—and that’s a good thing. Learning to master our personal desire to have our own way, and do what we want when we want, is a life skill that can payoff in other relationships and in our professional lives.
3. Greater compassion. For some of us, being a parent is the first thing in life which has left us feeling vulnerable and a little bit scared. That feeling can help us to empathize with others who are facing challenges outside their total control, and be kind to others when they face those challenges.
4. Better organization. Even if you’ve always been a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of gal, having children will force you to maintain some degree of household and life organization in order to survive with your sanity intact.
5. A stronger marriage. We realize that kids can actually push a marriage in either direction, but if you approach it all the right way, you realize how much you need one another to do this job well, and you grow closer as a team while you try. Your spouse is the only other person in the world who loves your kids in the same way that you do—reveling in their successes, grieving over their failures, and hoping for their futures. Lock arms and let this experience bond you together through the ups and downs.