A young woman I know, and one who happens to be one of my daughter’s most cherished friends, very recently had her first baby. I have no doubt that she and her husband will develop top-notch parenting skills that will exemplify the amazing young people they have already proven themselves to be. So, I would not offer them parenting advice if she hadn’t issued an open call - especially since I’m not one that believes it takes a village to raise a child. I can clearly recall multiple occasions where I felt it appropriate to remind relatives, friends, and/or educational personnel who it was that give birth to my three offspring and assured them, each in turn, that when I wanted their advice I would remember to ask them for it.
But since this young woman did make such a request, and I’ve been at this for over 30 years already, I’ve decided to accept the challenge and share what my children have taught me.
Most of it can really be summed up in one word. Chill. Children, even the very young, have an innate ability to let you know what they need when they need it. In no time at all you will recognize the tone of the cry. But, if it takes you awhile, or even if you just disagree with her current demand, she is not going to explode or disappear into a puff of dust if she doesn’t get what she wants, or even needs, right this very minute. That’s as true now when she thinks she wants a bottle as it will be when she’s 6 and wants a pony or 16 and thinks she needs a Mustang Convertible.
Chill. The horse will drink when it gets thirsty. It is NOT your job to tell the horse when it’s thirsty. It is your job to provide the skills needed to recognize thirst and the skills needed to find the water.
Chill. Let her find out who she is. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t set boundaries and standards. Of course you should. It does mean that when those boundaries and standards cause conflict – and they will – that you will win some of the ensuing battles and you will lose some of them. And you should not mark your success as a parent by keeping score. Nor should you mark your success as a parent by your child’s successes or failures. GOOD parents have children that fail at life and parents that do TERRIBLE things have children that do amazing things with their life.
I’ll post part II of this tomorrow . . . . it’s pretty much along the lines of “Everything I Need to Know About Parenting, I Learned in Business School.”
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