“You make the path by walking on it.”Antonio Machado

I have just returned from giving six presentations to parents and teachers in Hong Kong – what an exciting trip! I arrived four days ahead of my scheduled talks so that I could acclimatise and absorb the different culture enabling me to customise my presentations.

I observed families, kids in school, dogs in prams (I kid you not!), ate all sorts of different foods, used every mode of transportation (including travelling alone on the very efficient underground railway system), cross-crossing the city to get my bearings and find my orientation so that I was sure I would make it to my various talks on time. It always takes a while for a new place to become familiar, and sometimes even a few visits before you can confidently navigate your way around. Parenting is not dissimilar.

Think about parenting: You have absolutely no idea where you are going, what you are getting yourself into or how long it is going to take until you feel confident. The fundamental difference though is this – your emotional connection to your child is like a homing device, a little black box, if you will. It is the thing that moves you forward, motivating you to keep on learning and discovering how to be a parent, and always directing you home.

You can read what you like about parenting, visit as many baby/child expos, and attend talks, but until you start trying things out with your child you will not discover what works for you. And what works for one family or child many not work for yours. With so much information at our disposal today and so much choice it is easy to:

  • get confused
  • lose one’s focus
  • get side-tracked
  • go around in circles

The key is to realise that there is no single guru who can tell you everything you need to be doing for your child and there is usually more than one way to get there. Your role is to find the information, filter it and then, most importantly, to make choices and decisions about what you will and will not act on. I do believe that part of our stress is caused by having so much choice and then in not wanting to take responsibility for the choices that we do make.

To go back to the quote above, you make the path by walking on it, and only you can make the path! Enjoy the adventure of making the path and and remember than it is as much about your child as it is about you!