'Parenting,' the late Doctor Benjamin Spock wrote, 'is a strange mixture of stress and joys.' Children don't come with owners' manuals, and there have been theories on how to parent as long as there have been parents and children. Good parents are made, not born, so you shouldn't feel that being a parent is something you should automatically know how to do well, any more than you wouldn't likely be a good tennis player without some guidance and lessons. At the same time, it's up to you to take the initiative to find out how to improve your parenting skills, both prior to your child coming into the world and each step along the way. There are numerous resources you can take advantage of, or turn to, for information. A good place to start is your family doctor. Check out the library or a book store. Your local church, community center, or 'Y' may offer parenting classes. There are numerous nonprofit associations that can help you if you have to deal with special problems, such as children's mental health issues, learning disabilities, specific diseases or syndromes, or even just something like being a single parent. Parenting is the most difficult job in the world, but it's also the most important and the most rewarding. There's help available, so take advantage of it!
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