The First Five Years: The Work is Worth It

The proverb says, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” Every new mother and father is handed a person of untold potential. The burden of responsibility we feel can be oppressive. However, if we rise to the challenge, for the love of the child, we will unlock that potential. The first few years of a child’s life requires a parent’s greatest attention and the most work. Those early years are tough, little kids are demanding. Thankfully they come cute or we would not be so quick to forgive their monstrous behavior. During those early years the child develops his sense of self, he learns to deal with emotions and face his fears, he develops empathy, and is socialized. Or, on the contrary, he fails to gain self-worth or personality, he represses or lashes out emotionally, he develops anxiety as he faces the unknown, he becomes apathetic to others, and is unsure how to interact appropriately. Young children are largely at the mercy of their parents.

As we begin our journey with each child we need to allow our innate parental love to drive us to sacrifice all other “goods” for the greatest good – raising a strong child. This is when we must put in the time and energy in devising the best parenting practices for each unique child. A sensitive child will need a softer touch than a determined child. A serious-minded child will need more respect and independence than a fun-loving child. As we strive, first and foremost, for the good of each child, rather than creating the child we desire, we will be guided in our parenting tactics and we will find joy in seeing our children thrive. “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.” Frederick Douglas

Difficult Lesson, William Adolphe-Bouguereau