Hey, Mama! Are you still getting up in the night with your 18-month-old? Or lying in bed with your toddler until he goes to sleep? Do you drive around every evening until your little one finally gives up and conks out? You’re wearing yourself out for no reason.
Do you prepare a different meal for your kids than for you and your husband? Do you always have to take snacks along in case of a meltdown? Does your child throw a tantrum when he doesn’t get what he wants to eat? You’re doing your child a disservice–it doesn’t have to be this way.
Are you living in your grubbiest clothes because you have little ones, have trouble walking through the living room because of toys, and rarely get out of the house? This isn’t just bad for you, it’s bad for your child, and for your husband as well!
All of these things are symptoms of a common malady–kiddus centralitis (child-centeredness)–and you probably caught it from reading too many blogs. Dedicated moms are the most susceptible to this disease; many blogs easily convince them that the best mother is the one who’s the most constantly involved with her kids. They heap big doses of guilt on any mom who lets her baby cry, who insists her child eat what’s given him, or who doesn’t let her child determine when he’s “ready” to be potty-trained. But this is all hogwash, and as I said, it’s detrimental to everyone in the family.
Job One for every parent is to raise responsible adults–that’s what you want in the end, right? You aren’t raising children, you’re raising adults, and it’s a very long process, so you have to start early and take it one step at a time. Children need to be loved, cared for, and taught how to grow up, but they should not be given center stage in the family. That place is reserved for mom and dad, who should continue living as adults, with interests and hobbies that do not include the children.
In her book, Bringing Up Bebe, Pamela Druckerman describes her surprise upon moving to France and discovering that French children behave in a civilized way in restaurants, rarely throw tantrums, and have parents who often spend weekends alone, away from the children. She learns that the French women she meets work to keep their lives in balance, never letting one part of life dominate or outweigh the others.
This philosophy of child-rearing is not so different from the very down-to-earth approach our grandmothers and great-grandmothers took toward the job of bringing up children. In all our modern wisdom and psychological advancement, we’ve complicated the job beyond recognition, and earned ourselves entire generations of self-centered, grown-up toddlers who know little about delayed gratification, how healthy relationships work, and how to deal with the frustrations of everyday life.
Of course, helping your child learn to sleep through the night, eat what he’s fed, and use the potty by age two doesn’t guarantee future maturity. However, these are the first steps on the road to self-sufficiency, and if combined with firm, calm parents who take care of their own relationship as they bring up their children, the odds are very good that their children will have all the tools they need for success and happiness!