When it comes to new parenting, many of us can feel like we’re drowning in a sea of information, of impossible learning curves, of all the things we have to do to just get through the day. This old flyer from The American Red Cross about how to rescue the drowning caught my eye and, because everything I ever look at somehow connects to my work with expectant and new parents, I think the phrase “Row-Throw-Go-Tow” is a good one for all of us to consider as we watch new parents wading into this dangerous sea for the first time. Here’s how you can help rescue them if they’re drowning!
When you see a new parent out and about, and they have that slightly crazed look in their eyes that reveals that they’re operating on very little sleep, and are at great risk of being unable to hold up their end of an adult conversation – row on over to them. They’ve probably been doing a lot of reading, information-gathering, and video-watching. But all of that pales in comparison to talking to a real, live person who’s actually thrashed their way through this wild sea – and survived.
If you can, throw them a couple of lifelines! After admiring the baby for a minute make sure to ask the baby’s age and then – tell these new parents that they look fabulous! When we’re first venturing out and about with our littles, we’re not feeling like we’ve got it all together (because we haven’t!) and we’re worried that it shows in our face, unwashed hair, and potentially spit upon clothing. Maybe reveal a little bit about what your own crazy morning was like, so they can feel like you’re swimming with them in this raging sea. Help these new parents feel better about themselves – it helps them feel better about their parenting.
There are literally tons of available media for consumption about new parenting – a Google search on this topic will pull up 215,000,000 results in .32 seconds! They don’t need another referral to a website – they need a real person. Go to them and be that source of real, down-to-earth, here’s-how-it really-is parenting advice. But only if they ask for advice first – always respect the Parental Code of Honor.
Remember how scared you were and how vulnerable you felt as a new parent and help those who are coming along behind you still struggling to keep their heads above water and tow them along. Carry them close to your chest until they’re feeling like they’ve got more solid footing underneath. Knowing that they can count on you to bring them to safety will make them feel so much better, and guess what? It’ll make you feel pretty great, too!
When we feel lost at sea as new parents, it’s sometimes those strangers who “get it” and say the right words at the right time that can save us. If you feel like you’re drowning in this new parenting sea right now, look for those who are able and willing to rescue you. And if you’ve made it to the other side, then help a drowning person out – they’ll be forever grateful that you did!
Where are you in this sea of parenting? Drowning, or safely on the other side? Do you have any memories of those sweet rescuers that helped you when you needed it most?