We’ve heard it a thousand times.

“Babies don’t come with an owner’s manual.”

That’s true and good to know, just not very helpful. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t like to know what I don't have. I want to know what I can do about it.

As I begin my 18th year as a school counselor, I find it increasingly evident that the way to help children succeed in life is by being there to equip their parents. To help guide them as they navigate the most difficult, and the most rewarding, job they have. There are so many ups and downs, tears and joy, and questions with seemingly no answers. Let’s face it: It’s hard to be a good parent.

I am talking from the perspective of a once single mom who has raised three children, now 41, 39 and 35. They are great adults, but oh, the mistakes I made. I raised them the way I thought I was supposed to, mostly from watching others or from the way I was raised. Looking back, I wish I had looked for answers to questions, through books or classes.

Then I got my chance. I couldn’t go back, but I could help others. As I learned, I realized how much I didn’t know as I raised my kids. I began to read countless books, completed trainings and worked with hundreds of parents, either in classes or individually. One of the most important things I wanted parents to know is that it’s OK to reach out.

Asking how to be a better parent isn’t about being weak or showing we don’t know what we’re doing.

It’s recognizing that we don’t have all the answers. It’s realizing that we have the biggest responsibility there is, that of giving our children every opportunity to become happy and healthy adults, and we better get serious about it. That’s why I decided to write a monthly column about the hardest job in the world. I hope that parents and grandparents will read it and think back to how they were parented and how they have parented. I hope they will realize, as I have, that some guidance and a helping hand once in a while is a good thing. We will navigate parenting and learn together. We’ll navigate the good, the bad and, yes, even the ugly of it.

This is going to be a journey for the entire community and my wish for you is that you’ll go along for the ride with me. We’ll tackle some tough topics, such as the importance of being emotionally connected to our kids or following through with consequences, which I expect will likely have you looking back at how a situation was handled in your life and what you wish would have happened. I know it will for me. I want this to be a learning time for us so that we can be our best selves first, then we can help children become their best selves. I especially look forward to seeing the positive growth in our children as we begin to look at parenting as what it is. It’s everything. That, my friends, will be the best reward for us

Until next time.