This post previously appeared on Happy by Design.
Raising a child is fraught with many, many challenges. Some are big, some are small, but one common trait runs through all of them. They are all challenges that you HAVE to face. Not just challenges like, “Hey that looks fun, let’s go try that.” No, more like, “Our kid can’t eat table food without gagging and puking. What do we do?” or “This weird rash is not going away and I have no clue what’s causing it and no clue how to treat it. What do we do?” Okay, so those were more specific to my family, and some of the weird, unexpected things that we encountered. But a lot of parenting is just that – unexpected things you encounter.
Most of the advice you’ll get from friends/family/online forums is “Here’s what works for 85% of kids,” which may be fine for the majority of your child-rearing challenges. But at some point you will find yourself in an area (or many, in our case) where your kid is in the 15% and then you’re left wondering what you need to do.
So given that we’ve experienced our fair share of child-rearing challenges in just the two short years we’ve managed to keep our child alive (yay us!), I thought I’d share some helpful insight that might be useful for your next child-rearing challenge. I’d say this system is 85% accurate. Take it with a grain of salt.
Step 1 –“Fake it till you make it”: Read one blog post about the particular topic, assume it’s going to be a breeze and that everything you’ve heard from others will not apply to you. Because your child is perfect and a genius and would never not do as instructed.
Step 2 – Get pissed that this is not one of those times where you can “Fake it till you make it”: Spend a few weeks lamenting how you should have listened to your friends/family. Then, berate yourself for being a terrible parent who can’t raise a child as perfect and special as little Suzy down the street who mastered this specific task in about 3 hours.
Step 3 – Have a good cry: Pour a big glass of wine, forgive yourself for any wrong doing and move forward. Also important — forgive your kiddo who now refers to you as “Meany butt”… even though you both know it was an honest reflection of your current state.
Step 4 – Keep getting up after you fall down: Accept any help you can get, read more than one blog post on the subject and do not act like a know-it-all. Most importantly, be okay with the many (so many) mistakes that will happen along the way, all in the name of learning and improving and finally getting it right.
Step 5 – Get off your high horse (I mean it!): After all is right with the world and you have mastered the latest child-rearing challenge, do NOT be that parent that proclaims the one true way. Realize that your way was not what worked for others who tackled this before you, so don’t expect to be the one singular expert on navigating this tricky child-rearing challenge for those tackling it after you. If a friend seeks help, always be gracious and always preface your advice with, “Here’s what worked for me, but I know that other methods have worked for others, so take that with a grain of salt.” And then also point them to some helpful resources if you think of any.
I’m not just setting out this advice for you … selfishly it also serves as a reminder for me. It reminds me that things always get bad before they get better and that it’s important to stay the course and keep trying. So to show you I mean business, here’s how I’d like to apply it.
The next big child-rearing challenge: Potty Training
The plan of attack: I’ll skip right to number 3 because these things should always start with a big glass of wine and some acceptance for the challenges that lie ahead.“I’m learning. He’s learning. We’ll get through this. It will be messy. I will probably cry at some point. He will definitely cry at some point. Hubby will keep us on track. We will all be supportive and accepting of what may come.” And I’ll keep repeating that at every failure along the way.
The journey: We haven’t actually started yet, so I’m just now researching the many ways in which one could potty train their little one. Having said that, if you have any advice, I’d love to hear it. I’ll then let you know whether or not your advice was a load of crap (pun intended) or if it actually worked for my little one.
At some point I’ll check in and let you know how it went, most likely after we get through it as I probably won’t be in a good mind set when things get dirty (another pun intended).
Until then, keep your chin up. You’ll get through it.