Like other important lessons in life, being a parent is something that you will never truly learn by reading, studying, and asking other people. You can only genuinely understand the feeling, the pressure, the happiness, the concerns, the excitement, the worries, and the satisfaction of being one by experiencing it. It's like the difference between riding a roller coaster and watching other people ride it, listen to them about their experience, or reading about them in books.

It doesn't mean that preparing to become one is useless. As a matter of fact, I strongly suggest that you do. Read a lot of parenting books. Interview your parent friends. Attend seminars, parenting sessions, etc. Equip yourself with all the lessons that you can get before you go into battle.

No, I am not exaggerating. Parenthood IS a battle. It is a never-ending battle of time and attention between your family and yourself. It is a constant battle between your pocket and that damn baby store. It is a lifelong battle between your parenting style and the big bad world out to get your child. Being prepared means knowing the right weapons to bring in the battlefield.

Just remember, however, that being prepared is only half the battle.

The other half is the actual experience where you will need all the support, skills, luck, and faith to survive.

Support, trust, and honesty between you and your partner is of utmost importance especially when you become a parent. For one thing, the pressure of raising a good, independent, and intelligent child is so daunting that it could stress even a well-prepared individual. Don't be a self-centered do-it-all. Trust your partner. Be honest if you need a time-out, a time for yourself. And be sensitive enough to know if your partner needs some.

Support doesn't come from your partner alone. Remember that you may also get support and strength from your parents and/or siblings. Just keep in mind that YOU are the one ACCOUNTABLE and RESPONSIBLE for your family, and not your parents and siblings. And that they also have lives, or family, of their own that they need to take care of.

Parenting skills mean knowing how to use the "weapons" that you studied during preparation, in real, messy, ugly situations. Part of these skills is knowing which of those conflicting theories should you apply in a specific situation. Another part is unlearning some lessons that you thought were right, but realized, through experience, were not entirely appropriate. Due to this, even if you come fully prepared, you will never win all the parenthood battles. Win some, lose some, just ensure that you win the war.  These things I am still learning, and will continue to learn, as I walk through this parenthood path. 

Finally, whether you believe in a Creator God or not, faith is immensely important in guiding your actions and knowing that whatever happens, everything will be all right. If for whatever reason, you think that the universe has formed by itself and decided to follow all the known and yet to be discovered laws of physics, then rest assured that as part of this universe, you are included in that decision of order and beauty. Have faith in the universe. If you, like me, believe in a powerful and merciful God, do realize that He will always guide and bless you if you let Him. So why worry? Have faith in Him.