What do you wish you'd known before becoming a parent?
In May, we asked our audience this question at the start of How To Raise A Human, our month-long special series on how to make parenting easier.
A mom shares what she's learned about parenthood from her own resilient mother. Another mom explains a trick she uses to get her in-laws off her back. And a one dad enlightens us with the advantage of the shoulder flaps on a baby onesie.
Here's a selection of responses, edited for length and clarity.
'We are all winging it'
I wish instead of people saying "Oh, you just need to follow your instincts" or "Read this baby book," I wish someone sat me down, looked me in the eye and said:
"Hey, we are all winging it. None of us knows what in the heck we are doing and NO two kids are exactly alike."
It amazes me how many parents are afraid to admit that. -Toni Holloway-Pullum
'Just tell them ... your doctor told you to do it your way'
if your in-laws and [family] are telling you how to do things and you want to do things differently, just tell them that your doctor/pediatrician told you to do it your way. Who cares if it's true? It will usually shut them up. -Josie Bahr
'I wish I had more support'
What do you wish somebody told you before you became a parent? m m I've pondered this question for a few days now, and have truly struggled to find an answer. I cannot muster up a single thing that I wish somebody had told me... or something that I was never told. m m If I had to pick something. I would say: I wish I had more support for my decisions as a parent. At the end of the day it doesn't matter if I cloth diaper or use sposies, if I breastfeed or bottle, if I find out the gender or wait. So long as I'm not harming my child, it really doesn't matter how I do it. m m Do not bash a parent's decision on how to raise their child. There is no "right way to parent". You do what suits you, and I will support that. m m m m #howtoraiseahuman #latenightmommamussings #mommamusings #parenting #parentingtips #everybodyhasanopinion #smileandnod #isupportyou #youdoyou #crunchymom #scrunchymom #silkymom #npr #deliveryphotos #motherhoodunplugged #motherhooduncensored #mindfulparenting #parenting101 #parentingdoneright #girldad #parentingadvice #parentingfail
I wish I had more support for my decisions as a parent. At the end of the day it doesn't matter if I find out the gender or wait, if I use cloth diaper or [diaper booster pads], if I breastfeed or bottle. So long as I'm not harming my child, it really doesn't matter how I do it. -zalewskijade
'Love for a child ... is complicated'
#HowToRaiseaHuman I wish someone had told me that the love for a child is not at all as simple and clear like a softly sung lullaby as I had imagined. It's as complicated and erratic and brutal as any human relationship. When your child is born you begin the weirdest blind date of your life. There will be shyness, deep respect, guilt, frustration when you don't understand each other, longing for a connection, always wanting to be near and actual unbearable physical pain when you're apart, like any real love between two humans. It makes you absolutely terrified of the thought that you won't be around forever to protect them. It makes you completely reevaluate what's important in your life. It makes staring at your sleeping child a necessity because when they're awake it's all the constant taking care of and keeping them alive that there is almost no chance for you to take in that they even exist, nevertheless are yours. And the love you feel when you give it room to sink in is so so overwhelming. It takes the center of the universe away from you and onto every breath their little being takes. That you will be with each other forever from now on.
I wish someone told me that the love for a child is not as simple and clear as a softly sung lullaby. It's as complicated as any human relationship. There will be guilt, frustration when you don't understand each other [and the feeling of] pain when you're apart, like any real love between two humans. -jennymortsell
'Don't make [parenting] a chore'
I thought being a stay-at-home parent meant the house should always be clean, the meals should be from scratch, the kids should be reading at an early age, the laundry should always be done. No. If you're lucky to stay home with your kids that means you should go to the park, zoo, museums, play Barbies, board games and dress up. You have more time to have fun and enjoy your kids. Don't make it a chore. Make fun memories instead. -Angela Evans Anderson
'They will push every button'
Savor every minute yada yada yada. The best advice I ever heard after my kids were born was that ... they will push every button and test your anger beyond what you can imagine. But if you know that, you can prepare. Learn healthy coping strategies. -Megan Hausinger
'My biggest point of reference ... my own mother'
Before becoming a parent, I wish someone had told me how important my own experience as a child would be in becoming a confident mother. I didn't realize that my biggest point of reference in motherhood would be my own mother and my memories and experience of her "mothering skills" would be a bottomless well that I would draw from. Shortly after my son's 1st birthday we moved to the UK from Sri Lanka, and within months I realized how brutal it was to do a full time job while nursing a baby who wouldn't sleep for more than 2 hours at a stretch at night and have no family for support apart from my husband who was then a full time student. I remembered the grit, perseverance and resilience of my mother and I told myself that giving less than my best to any aspect of my life whether it be as a wife, mother or employee was not an option just as she pushed herself even in the hardest of situations. Someday, I would love to volunteer for an organization such as Home Start East Surrey and ease the burden of parenting of another family by helping out with everyday tasks and being an inspiration to mothers who aren't as fortunate as I have been to have an exemplary mother or any mother figure at all. Happy mothers day! #howtoraiseahuman #mothersday @npr @home_start
Before becoming a parent, I wish someone told me how important my own experience as a child would be in becoming a confident mother. My biggest point of reference in motherhood would be my own mother -- and my memories of her mothering skills would be a bottomless well that I would draw from.
Shortly after my son's first birthday, we moved to the U.K. from Sri Lanka. Within months I realized how brutal it was to do a full-time job while nursing a baby who wouldn't sleep for more than two hours at a stretch at night. We had no family for support apart from my husband, who was then a full-time student. I remembered the grit, perseverance and resilience of my mother -- and I told myself that giving less than my best to any aspect of my life, whether it be as a wife, mother or employee, was not an option. She pushed herself even in the hardest of situations. -the_stories_of_a_mama
And a few random insights
If poop or pee get on a onesie, the shoulder flaps let you pull the onesie down to take it off so you can avoid a big mess from pulling it over the baby's head. -Scott Falconer
That I would not look like Kate Middleton when leaving the hospital, but I would one day feel like myself again. #HowToRaiseAHuman— Teny Shapiro (@tenyshap) May 17, 2018
Welcome to being tired forever. This could be because I was a first-time dad at 38. But, jeebus, I remember being tired. I still haven't recovered, and he's 20. -Scott Kennedy