I’ve always been a risk taker. When I was about five, my two older brothers dared me to jump off of the top of their bunk bed. Without missing a beat I stretched my arms out in front of me, yelled “SUPERMAN,” and belly flopped onto the carpet below. Aside from a mild rug burn and a kick in the ego (I sincerely thought I had the power to fly) I was relatively unscathed.
Through the years, other risks have followed but none seem as bold as my initial dive from the top bunk. Is it possible that my ability to take risks peaked at the age of five and it’s been steadily going downhill ever since? Is risk in general becoming more and more calculated with each passing year? If so, will I no longer be brave enough to take any risks one day?
I’m then reminded of my boldest risk to date. I chose to become a parent. Parenthood is more than a leap off a top bunk, it’s more like jumping blindfolded into the Grand Canyon in the middle of the night. Now that I’ve made this huge leap into the unknown, why am I even more terrified to take a risk now than I ever was before?
It’s possible that it has something to do with that adorable little one who shares half of my DNA and depends on me for just about everything. Once you become a parent, it not only affects your sleep habits but it changes the way we look at life in general and forces us to closely scrutinize each choice that we make. Each decision we make, big or small, now takes on some inherent risk.
Your decision might be a very simple one, like whether or not to let your child indulge in a cupcake after dinner. You may be trying to decide if you should take a higher paying job that might afford your child more opportunities, but will ultimately take you away from your family more than you would like it to. These are decisions we must make as parents, some more difficult than others. With each comes varying degrees of risk. How can we set our fears aside and make the best decision, regardless of the issue, for ourselves and our children?
I think the key to problem solving and decision making in parenting is simple: trust your gut. As parents, we all have an innate intuitiveness when it comes to our children. Even before our children are born, this intuition takes hold and we instinctively know what’s best for our little one. This instinct grows deeper once your child arrives, and gets stronger with each day that passes. For every decision you have to make, regardless of the risk, you ultimately know what’s right for your child and your family.
Parents get a lot of unsolicited advice, usually from well-meaning friends or relatives. Learning to filter this advice and trust yourself as a parent can be difficult. A lot of people will give you guidance and will be happy to tell you what they think you’re doing wrong. Remember that you are the parent and whatever decision you make for your child will be the best one.
Everyday I try to make the best decisions for my daughter. As the old adage goes, no one is perfect, and this is especially true of parents. We all make mistakes. Accept your imperfections, learn from them and move on. Continue to trust yourself as a parent, make good decisions and take the kind of risks that you believe will benefit your child.
There is a quote that reads, Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. I can’t imagine a risk greater, more worthwhile, than this kind of love. Love your child, trust yourself and everything else will fall into place.