Have you felt an overwhelming sensitivity since your child's birth? You're not alone. When I was young and without experience, the world seemed both up and downhill. In my twenties, I focused on school and soaking life up, and had little knowledge of my own capacity to empathize.
Being a Parent Changes You
I'd heard from other people that being a parent changes your life; children bring out something we'd never felt, something our young lives would've benefited from. Although we're blinded to this in the beginning and focus everything on environmental preparation! We look forward to the toys, the laughing, staring into the eyes of a genetic copy of ourselves, but better, prepare sippy cups, matching bedsheets and pillowcases, and everyone, especially grandparents, is involved.
But the change I experienced when my little guy took the stage proudly shifted my feelings away from the material, turning inward and then outward toward people.
I've become a better person in many ways. Here is how I believe parenting makes us better people…
When my son was six months, my wife and I attempted to watch Schindlers list as he slept. We failed to arrive at the second act before deciding, not wrongly, to call it quits as we slipped into his room and kissed him on the forehead.
This marked the first experience of feeling another's pain and being unable to endure a film, of all things, dealing with cruelty toward others. Sensitivity seems relentless in its pursuit of a fresh, tender parent. Anyone agree?
Softening provides a lens into the soul
I see adults as children. Although it's difficult to imagine a cynical adult as a judgeless free-spirited little one, children seem to bring this ability out. I try to imagine people as children, laughing, mumbling their first sentences.
We all started somewhere. Even the worst people in society began as little bundles of perfection. This newly found sense of connection uncovers a magnitude within yourself to be a better friend, a better spouse, better co-worker.
Moreover, its impossible to turn on the television and not see misfortune around the world, and feel the need to stand to help. The conversations between my wife and I have deepened on the subject of other families, and our interest in providing for others – magnified.
Did I mention sensitivity? It's worth 2 mentions!
Since becoming a parent, there are books I won't read, films I'm unable to watch, and even aggravating memories.
But fear not, because I've noticed a healthy, balanced lifestyle, including fitness and eating well, staves off the feeling of emotional deconstruction. Spend time together as a family, too; you'll feel rejuvenated and connected, happier and fulfilled.
The discipline of parenting
If you traveled back in time, approached me, and revealed I would be a father who'll make his bed at 6 am, write for two hours every morning, and rush off to work, I'd say you were on drugs!
But alas, here I am. I think most people, including those who have yet to be parents, would find it intuitive that discipline is required for good parenting. Habits that were once elusive to you will become second nature.
Quality of sleep will matter to you, which comes with age, but as a parent, waking up at 2 am and dancing a baby back to sleep, you'll appreciate the hours you have to refresh.
You'll sharpen your language
I used to swear like a sailor and was known for it in circles of friends. Now, my son acts as my sensor. Remember, their brains are like little recorders capable of playing back anything heard.
I speak slowly and enunciate my words to him, whereas earlier in life, I hardly was aware of the way I spoke, nor did I care.
So if you're a new parent with whom this article resonates, or expecting your first child, you should be happy to know your life will be enriched, and your feelings of the world – deepened.
A quote from the actress Laura Linney…
“Traits like humility, courage, and empathy are easily overlooked – but it's immensely important to find them in your closest relationships…”
Your children will show you this.