Every parent will encounter parenting challenges at some point. It takes about twenty years to raise a human being and during that time, lots of things come up! Experience in parenting doesn’t prevent this from happening – even raising one’s 5th or 10th child brings new challenges. This is because each child is unique. Parenting strategies that work with one child in the family, may be ineffective with another. While one youngster was “born cooperative” another might have been “born rebellious.”
Types of Issues
Here are some of the most common issues that virtually every parent faces:
- sleeping issues (trouble sleeping, refusing to go to sleep, nightmares, trouble waking up and so on)
- eating issues (picky eater, refuses vegetables, eats too much, has eating disorders)
- discipline issues (won’t cooperate with discipline, is unaffected by discipline, parent doesn’t know how to discipline)
- behavior problems (child is aggressive, doesn’t listen, is rude, is uncooperative, is impulsive, engages in risky behavior and so on)
Here are issues that many parents must help their child with:
- fears and anxieties
- temper, aggression, violence
- sadness, depression
- learning problems
- school problems
- eating disorders
- various other mental health disorders
- various developmental disorders
- various health issues
- trouble with the law
- conflict with parents
- runaway from home
- experimentation with drugs, alcohol, sex
- pregnancy, sexual disease
Children can have many other issues as well. For instance, children experience all sorts of stress – like being bullied, or socially rejected, or going through their parents’ divorce, or dealing with the death of a parent or a sibling, or dealing with illness or death in the family or extended family. In other words, just because a person is young doesn’t mean that he or she is sheltered from the challenges and stresses of life. Children react to stress in various ways – some with physical symptoms, some with emotional symptoms, and some with behavioral symptoms. When parents provide emotional support (themselves and if appropriate, through professionals), children are less likely to act out their stress or store it inside where it may surface much later in life.
Dealing with Parenting Issues
Since parenting issues are unavoidable, every parent needs to know how to deal with them. However, no one expects a parent to know everything about every possible issue that can arise in parenting. What a parent NEEDS to know, however, is how to access help, support and guidance. Parents need to be willing to talk to and learn from each other. There is no issue that has not been experienced by others before you. Go online and see what people are saying there about the particular challenge you may be facing. Speak to your doctor or pediatrician. Consult a parenting expert or mental health professional. Get your hands on a few parenting books.
Raising children is a rewarding task but certainly not an easy one. Parents need information and options. Too often, they think that their child is the only one in the world who behaves the way he or she does or who has the problems that he or she has. In fact, all kids have problems and thousands or millions have or have had the exact same one that your child has. And no – they’re not all in jail now or living on the street. And even if your child is in jail or living on the street, keep in mind that people to continue to grow and develop throughout the entire lifespan, long after they have left your care. Your child can move forward as long as he or she is alive. Keep in mind too, that science is also advancing, helping to develop new interventions to help every kind of mental and physical condition. Your child may benefit from new knowledge as it becomes available.
All this is to say that while there are going to be issues, keep your eye on the main goal for yourself as a parent. Your job is not to raise a perfect human being with no issues (sorry – but that’s impossible) but rather to be a guide along your child’s journey. You can do your best to model healthy adulthood (and we’re working on OURSELVES throughout our lifetimes too), and deal with the issues that your child presents in the healthiest way possible.