Let me preface this post with an admission. I don’t have it all together or all figured out. I don’t have a PhD in child psychology or anything like that. I am just a parent. I have taught preschoolers for over twenty years in one way or another; however, it is not my career.
One of those things that I see and hear all the time is a new or newish parent being questioned or shamed on how they are doing__fill in the blank_______. Actually, it isn’t even new parents that this happens to. I, having children ranging from 17 to 3, am often given advice or questioned all about what I’m doing with my 3 year old and my 11 year old. Oftentimes, I look at it like a gift; because let’s face it, these kids didn’t come with an instruction manual and if there was one, it would be different for each kid. There are other times when this advice or interrogation is not welcome.
I feel so badly for parents who are feeling so overwhelmed by some aspect of parenting, who then have to face someone making them feel even more inept with their with comments or “suggestions”. If that’s where you are today, then this is for you!
Here’s some reassurance:
- If you love your child, and are doing the best you can do today; it is enough. Maybe tomorrow you’ll have more energy or have more things figured out, but love covers a lot and it is what lasts.
- Your kid will probably not take a pacifier to college, so relax. Before children, I knew a child who loved her pacifier. She took it everywhere and had it in her mouth most of the time. Her parents heard advice and admonishments from everyone. Her teeth had started to do that weird thing that they do when a child takes a pacifier for a long time. Those poor parents felt the pressure, so they tried to take it away a thousand different ways. None of them worked. I am sure they feared that she would, indeed, go to college with that thing in her mouth. She made a pronouncement that the day she started kindergarten (sarcastic GASP!) that she would be done with the pacifier forever. You know what? She did exactly what she said. She’s in college now and has one of the prettiest smiles I’ve ever seen! My own children did similar things. My third child loved her “uh-oh” (called that because she dropped it so often and heard uh-oh” uttered with each fall, hence that name). I was worried that she would have it forever. One day , when she was about 3 years old, I was putting her in her car seat and she said, “throw that uh-oh away, I’m done with it.” We did and she was.
- Tantrums are normal. They suck, but they’re normal. When your kid is losing his or her mind in the store and you are sweating and your blood pressure is rising and you’re wondering how this little child has the strength of a hundred men, just know every person who has cared for a child has been there.
- Speaking of tantrums, when that precious baby of yours is having one, know that most people are not judging you. I won’t lie and say that no one is. You know, there are always people out there who love to be jerks. Ignore them. They’re sad people. Most people in the store with you are feeling your pain. They wish they could help you out. Take a deep breath and realize you’re not alone.
- When your child cries when you drop him or her off at the babysitter’s, grandma’s, or daycare, know that they will be okay. The faster you drop them off, assure them you will be back and you love them, the better! If they draw you into the drama, it will only make things harder. Drop them off, get your stuff done, and get back there.
- You don’t need fancy electronic toys or flashcards or computer programs. Your child will play with what you give them. They will also use random things to pretend with, if they are given the chance. Give them that chance. Imagination is a great thing!
- They don’t care about their clothes. You can pretty much buy whatever brand of clothes you like, wherever it is you like to shop. They just don’t want it to be itchy or tight. If you can’t afford the latest Matilda Jane outfit, you’re kid isn’t even going to care. Don’t sweat it.
- They are going to say things that are embarrassing. They will either say something about themselves or you that will make you blush. They might even say something about someone else that will cause you to wish the floor would open up and eat you. I urge you to look at the bright side. You’ll have a great story to use against them in their teen years, and most people have had their children do the same to them.
- There are a thousand different methods to potty train. I know one thing for sure. Your kid isn’t going to do it until he or she is ready. You can guilt, make promises, give rewards, on and on; but until your cutie pie is ready, it isn’t going to happen. I had one of my children who carried around her potty and self potty trained at 18 months. I had another who I was fearful was never going to care enough to potty train. Guess what. She started using the potty on her own when I asked her if she wanted to be in the big kid class at preschool. She was ready and it happened. Don’t fret too much about it.
- You don’t have a lot of control. See above. They are born their own people. It doesn’t take long for free will to come into play. They will be mean sometimes. They will lie sometimes. They’ll act downright awful sometimes. They will make choices that aren’t great. These behaviors will go on for their entire lives. Your job is to love them, guide them, and tell them your expectations. Build them up, but never let them think they’re perfect or have to be. Let them know their worth doesn’t come from what they achieve. They are a unique creation and their worth comes from something much greater!
Maybe this post contained too much advice, apologies if it did; but I hope that whoever reads it feels a little less alone in this big job of parenting. It’s a hard job, but so completely worth it!