Parenting is arguably the toughest job you'll ever have, but it's also filled with little moments that make it all worthwhile. While each child is different, many experience the same milestones and similar sweet events as they grow and develop.
They Take Their First Steps Alone
"One of my favorite moments of watching babies grow is when they start walking without support," says Raman A. Although your child is likely mobile in some way before they walk, seeing those first independent steps fills you with pride. Knowing that your child is capable of being independent and accomplishing something so difficult, yet integral to life, gives you the peace of mind that they can do anything.
They Run to Hug You at Pickup
"Knowing my kids loved their babysitter like a grandma, yet still rushing up to hug me when I came to pick them up after work" makes parenting feel worthwhile shares Kelly R. Even though they're having fun and you may feel guilty about not being there all day, their excited little hug lets you know you're still number one.
They Cover You Up When You Lay Down
You are typically the one taking care of everyone else in your family, but the moment your child makes a tiny gesture to take care of you is priceless. Whether you're laying on the couch for a quick break, or you're sick, when your child brings over a blanket to cover you up, it is so tender and sweet. Taking care of others is literally the definition of being a parent, so seeing that your child is learning to care for others lets you know they have compassion and the ability to be a great parent one day.
They Enter Their Classroom and Start Talking to Everyone
If you volunteer in your child's class, you get a new perspective on how they are doing socially. Michael K. shares that one of his most rewarding parenting moments is, "When you see your child flourishing as a social butterfly in the classroom, making friends with literally everyone, eager to help and support." Seeing that enthusiasm to be with other people and be genuinely nice to them, reminds you that you've raised a great little person who is amazing, even when you're not around.
They Decide to Go to Bed on Their Own
Most kids despise going to bed for fear of monsters, the dark, or just missing out on whatever everyone else is doing at night. When your child suddenly announces he's ready to go to bed, without any prompting from you, and heads to his room, you swell with pride. Having your child understand their own needs and make such a mature decision lets you know you've given them the tools they need to succeed in life.
They Tell You They Want to Live With You Forever
"If I ever tell my son he'll someday have his own house, he gets really upset and cries," shares Michele M. "He says he wants to live with me forever, and it melts my heart." Even though parents are busy working and doing chores, and sometimes have to be the "bad guy," it's more than rewarding to know your kid never wants to leave you.
They Hold Your Hand on Purpose
When kids are young, you make them hold your hand for safety reasons. As they age, they show their desire for independence by doing everything in their power not to hold your hand. You might be walking through town or into a store, or just sitting on the couch when your child grabs your hand because they want to hold it. Even though they have a strong desire to be independent from you at many stages of development, it's always a nice reminder when your child shows that desire to connect with you, or that they feel safe because they're connected to you.
They Give Their Favorite Toy to Another Child
Kids are notoriously attached to some of their favorite toys, but there are tender moments when you see that selfishness waver. You might be at the library or a play date and witness another child get upset, and your child hands them a beloved toy to comfort them. "Seeing your child make an unselfish choice of kindness without them knowing you are watching, and realizing you are raising a future adult who will make the world a better place" is the reward of seeing your child give something special to a child who needs it more, shares Debbie V.
They Buy You Something With Their Own Money
Little kids get birthday money while tweens and teens can earn their own through work. That moment when your child buys you something on a whim with their own money while you're at the store together is priceless. You spend all your hard-earned cash on your kids, so when you see that they recognize the value in that, it makes parenting all the more worthwhile. Whether it's a pack of your favorite gum or a nice birthday present, having your child spend their hard-earned cash on you feels like a major parenting win.
They Teach You How a Toy Works
Whether your kids are five or fifteen, they're likely to introduce you to new toys and gadgets that weren't even invented when you were a kid. That moment when your child gets a PlayStation or VR headset for Christmas and has to show you how it works can be really eye-opening and rewarding. Beth W. shares, "When my child teaches me something new, completely independent of anything I had exposed them to," it helps show that you have raised a capable and intelligent child.
They Decide to Do the Most Difficult Assignment First
"Hearing my daughter say, 'Let's tackle the hardest thing first' when she's facing something" like homework gives you a chance to see the maturity and strength of your child, says Barb. B. Kids in upper elementary and secondary school will often have multiple homework assignments each day, and projects each week or month. When they decide they've got the courage and strength to do the most difficult assignment first, it shows that you've raised a confident kid.
They Help the Neighbors With Yard Work
Your kids may not always love helping you around the house, but when they opt to help the neighbors without any prompting, you see that they are thoughtful of others. It might be shoveling off the elderly neighbor's snow-covered steps, or helping them drag a tarp full of leaves to the curb. Knowing that your child has the ability to see when someone needs help, and then takes the initiative to help them, even in a simple way, shows that you're raising someone who will become a productive member of society.
Whether it's middle school, high school, or college, watching your child walk across that stage from one phase of life to the next makes parenting rewarding. Shana M. shares, "We spend so much time loving, raising, coaching, helping, teaching, and mentoring our children to prepare them for the adult world. The culmination of all of that, was my daughter's high school graduation day!" You and your child have put in a lot of hard work to move from one stage to the next, and seeing that through a graduation ceremony is your reward.
Someone Tells You Your Kid Has Great Manners
Tricia H.'s most rewarding parenting moment is, "When you hear other people compliment how well-mannered and polite your children are outside of the home." You try to give your kids all the tools they need to be kind, compassionate people, but you don't always get the chance to see if they practice that when you're not looking. Having another parent or store clerk stop you just to say what great manners your child had when you weren't around shows that you've instilled something important in your kids.
They Ask for the Same Haircut You Have
Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so having your child ask to look just like you is the ultimate compliment. You may not love the way you look, but your child's desire to look just like you can give you a boost of confidence. For older kids, the fact that they want to be so closely associated with you is the most flattering part.
The Rewards of Parenting
While parenthood is filled with guilt and embarrassing moments, it's also loaded with little rewards. When you start to look at these small moments as gifts, you'll find what makes parenting so worthwhile.