[full of it]

Parenting

Posted in Uncategorized by susieyarbs on January 7, 2012

I remember being very, very pregnant and having a swelling, panicky realization that after I had the baby, I would have to parent it.  Up until then, all of my research and preparatory efforts had been about how to have a healthy pregnancy and birth.  But after that?  After that there’s a baby.  A baby that grows up to be a kid.  A kid who needs parenting.

For tiny babies, want = need.  Easy.  It’s exhausting work filling their needs, but there was never a question (or at least there wasn’t to me) of whether I was doing it right.  He’s hungry, feed him.  He’s yawning and fussy, nurse him to sleep.  He’s dirty, change him.  It seemed pretty straightforward.

Now that he’s a toddler, it’s a whole new world.  He wants things he can’t have.  He can’t understand yet why he can’t have them.  Frustrations and conflicts are inevitable.  How should I deal with them?

This is a whole new ballgame.  We’re in the second year.  Parenting is now.

The first thing I’m sure of is that I want to parent deliberately.  I want to have sound reasons for why I do the things I do. I don’t want to do things just because they were done to me, or because I see them done by other parents I know.  I don’t want to blindly accept conventional practices as best practices.  I don’t want to stab in the dark until something seems to work (although I’m sure there will be plenty of that).

I want to parent empathetically.  I want to see things from his point of view, I want to at least try to understand what it’s like to be a non- or limitedly-verbal toddler.  I want to be educated on his current stage of development, so I know what I can reasonably expect from him.  I don’t want to fall into the traps of trying to reason with him before he’s able, or of getting frustrated that he doesn’t remember what I told him thirty seconds ago before he has that kind of memory.

I don’t want to discount his feelings.  This is a big one to keep in mind during tantrums.  I may think the issue is trivial, but he obviously doesn’t, and I should be respectful of that.  It is a big deal if he breaks a toy or he drops a his food or we have to leave the park – it doesn’t matter if he’s “just tired” or “just hungry,” it’s a big deal to him and I should treat it that way.  I think it’s disrespectful to think and especially to say to the toddler that “it isn’t a big deal.”  I wouldn’t say that to another adult who is upset, and I won’t say it to my child.

I don’t want to hold him to a higher standard than I hold myself and other adults.  I have lapses in judgement, I say things I don’t mean, I act irrationally.  I mess up.  We allow for those things with adults, but somehow kids get punished every time they throw a toy (when they aren’t capable of impulse control), or they do something we told them not to (when they don’t have that kind of memory recall), or when they call someone stupid (when I call people stupid).  They should be given the chance to understand why something was wrong without fear of punishment.

I want to let him be a kid.  I don’t want to get mad at him for jumping in a mud puddle (even if I just put clean clothes on him) or climbing the stairs or not being able to sit still through dinner.  I want to allow him to act his age.

Using those ideals as guidelines, I’ve been perusing the boards on mothering.com and reading some books to get some more practical ideas.  Right now I’m reading The Emotional Life of a Toddler and Parenting with Purpose, and Unconditional Parenting is in the mail.

Maybe it seems like going overboard to be doing all this research.  I know most parents don’t.  I think it’s sad that parenting isn’t taken more seriously.  Parents skate by on what seems to work, they don’t question that there might be a better way, they want quick fixes to “problem” behavior, they want a 3-step program for raising obedient kids.  They want to know how to get their child to stop doing this or that, but fail to consider that the behavior is normal (like waking up at night and needing help going back to sleep), or an attempt at attention (or realize that it’s an attempt at gaining attention, but think that giving the requested attention is indulging their whims and somehow bad), or it may be a result of their own negative behavior (like expecting them to clean their rooms without whining when you yourself complain about cleaning).

Parenting is my job.  It’s important, and it isn’t a means to an end.

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One Response

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  1. Erika Y said, on January 9, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Great thoughts!! I will be cheering you along during your journey. I can’t wait to read more of your posts!!


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