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The Seven Ages Of Parenting

by Dr. Noel Swanson

Stage 1: Me, have kids? Really?

“Shall we start a family, darling?” The biological clock ticks, the maternal instinct weighs heavy. Seeing babies everywhere prompts a sigh, “isn’t she so cute?”. All helped of course by the tiresome chore called “making babies”.

Stage 2: Blue line pregnant or no line?

You check your calendar to see that your period is late. Oh my. This really could be happening. Your heart beats faster at the thought of having a baby on the way. Your bladder pushes you to go to the bathroom as you feel a kick in your stomach.

Flash forward a few months. The kicks, elbows, backaches, and swollen ankles are part of your daily routine. Gross! Varicose veins. What happened to your body?

Here she comes. Your baby pushes and pushes making you have the mouth of a sailor. During labor you decide to never make babies ever again. But wait, she has ten fingers, ten toes, and a sweet smile.

Phase 3: Creating a “first” for every occasion.

You have lost your precious sleep time. Your nipples are beyond sore and you are going delirious from dieting. However, your precious bundle of joy can harm no one. She is perfect with a perfect smile. She just found her little toes. She tastes them. Maybe she is hungry you laugh.

First time: sitting, crawling, standing, walking. First word, First solid food. First potty. First full blown, lie-on-the-floor-and-kick-the-feet tantrum. Each a major achievement to celebrate.

You sing nursery rhymes that give way to watching TV instead.

Your baby heads off to school. You are thrilled, but will miss her at the same time.

Stage 4: Her social world expands.

How fast they change from being cuddly babies to young, independent, school kids. In some English private schools they even wear a uniform with cap and tie (for the boys)!

Toilet jokes – everything and anything to do with pooping and peepee is absolutely hilarious!

Their first best friend, and first rejection. Scraped knees in the playground. And, of course, their first “it’s not fair!”

You want them to be independent, but it is hard. Why can’t you have the ability to protect them from the world?

Phase 5: Time for academics

Time to put the play aside for a moment. There’s letters and sums to learn. For some, it is just a walk in the park, for others it is climbing Everest. It is at this time that the differences between children become apparent. Those with easy kids can’t see what all the fuss is about, yet for others it is the beginnings of years of stress, worry, tears and heartache.

Even so, there are always the little events to remember – All she wants for Christmas is her two front teeth (along with Barbie and a puppy dog!)

The temptation to baby her strong, but you remember she needs to do her chores.

Phase 6: Almost a teenager

Girls will be girls and boys will be boys – and never the two shall mix. Well, why would they? The girls are all into pink and giggle too much – and the boys are just too cool for such silliness.

Your personal style will not be cool no matter what. No one wears the clothes you have in your wardrobe and your daughter will tell you this every day.

Lingo changes from what you said when you were her age.

The training bra and makeup come on. Puberty wreaks havoc on voices.

Phase 7: They hit the social scene.

Boys and girls discover the attraction to each other. They wonder if anyone has a crush on them.

Your daughter gives you her advice and opinions whether you ask for them or not.

Parents are out, friends are everything. So is music and fashion. And late nights. “Aw mum, why do I have to be back so early – everyone else is staying until 3 am!” Oh yeah? Are they really?

On special occasions your teenager will open up to you. Just listen, don’t preach.

Then, one day, the fireworks settle. The grunts turn into English again and like a phoenix from the ashes, and new (adult) human emerges – full of ideals and dreams and visions, but perhaps a bit short on confidence and wisdom.

Stage 8: (The rest of your lives.)

So they’ve left home – but they are still your little darlings. Your worries and hopes for them continue.

You will always love your children no matter what.

Time flies. Take a moment to enjoy the specialness of each and every day with your children.

About the Author:

Dr. Noel Swanson, Consultant Child Psychiatrist and author of The GOOD CHILD Guide, specializes in children's behavioural difficulties and writes a free newsletter for parents. He can be contacted through his website on Expert Parenting Advice.

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