Monday, January 7, 2013

The Truth About Having Kids

Before you have kids, you might spend time thinking about who your kids will be. You might think about how you will raise them and mold them to be a certain way.

You might decide you will offer only the "healthiest" food and then they won't even want junk food. You might decide you won't ever let them watch television and then they won't even like looking at screens.

Maybe you think you'll make them go to bed at a certain time, so they will learn to always get enough sleep. And you'll make them always pick up their toys so they will learn to clean up after themselves.

You might wonder why these and other simple ideas seem to escape the parents who have come before you. You think they must be doing it wrong. They're inconsistent and soft. Yeah, that must be it.

Then you have a baby. For a while, everything is great and going according to plan. Well, except for the sleeping part. But everything else, totally perfect.

Then your sweet little baby, who was going along with your plan without complaint, becomes a toddler. And your toddler has ideas. Your toddler sees a working television while out and about. She's mesmerized. She's curious and *gasp* enjoying it. She wants more. Your toddler sees cookies at a party, she sees the candy at the checkout counter of the grocery store. Not only does she want these and other shocking things, but it turns out she also loves some of them.

One by one, your toddler starts chipping away at your ideas, trying to implement a different plan. Her own plan. It's a plan to try everything, to taste everything, to sleep only when her body demands it and there's nothing else fun going on. Her plan is to explore her world and to immerse herself into whatever interests her. Her plan is to seek out the things that make her happy and do those things.

At this point you have two choices. You could cling to your original plan. It seems safer. You like being in control. Or you could realize that your toddler's plan is actually much better than your plan. If you dig even deeper, you might realize that your toddler's plan was actually your real original plan too. The plan you were born to follow as well, but most likely didn't get to. If you do realize this, you will stop fighting your child's desires and instead support her passions for exploring and learning.

The truth is that kids (people) come with their own plans. And your best plan for your children may be to understand and follow along with theirs. To help them navigate the world and figure out who they are, and not who you want them to be.


  1. So true!!!:) Why fight when you can come with and enjoy the journey!!;)

  2. Damn, you should have been my mom.

  3. Keep writing :) I came on here a few days ago and was happy to see a new article. There are so many parenting magzines and websites that suggest the same thing: kids are out of control, kids need to be the way their parent want them to, kids WANT limits. Your work is unique and provides an insight. After reading your blog I just make more faith in the world for a while

  4. What would you then tell to a kid who's about to waste her entire life because she's too lazy (read: too stressed out) to get through the last few months of high school and would rather play video games than study?

    1. I would tell her that I totally understand that feeling. It was only 13 years ago I was in the same position. It was absolutely the most stressful time of my life. Keep breathing and get through it. Life after high school is much better.

    2. That's good advice. But just to prepare for every possibility - what if she, despite her efforts, fails anyway? Has to repeat the year or something along these lines? What then?

    3. I know it's hard to find the motivation to do the school work, but if she has gotten this far, I know she can finish. Just a few more months. Maybe if she focuses on soon being done forever with mandatory school, that can motivate her to do just enough work so that she doesn't fail and have to repeat anything.

      In other words, focus on the light at the end of this tunnel. And then do whatever it takes to get the heck out of the tunnel!

  5. This is such a great, insightful little piece of writing. I feel like I finally clearly understand why my parents always treated my sister and I the way they did: they had a rigid plan in mind and the only thing that ever mattered to them was sticking to it. Didn't matter what it took. They'd do anything they had to do to force us to go along with their plan. Literally anything. They'd scream, hit, belittle, humiliate--and once we became adults they'd shun, bribe, lie, and manipulate. Whatever it took.

    It's so sad. They could have had fun, rich, rewarding relationships with their daughters. Instead, my sister and I really aren't in their lives anymore at all.

    We'd have to be nuts to voluntarily choose to continue to be around people who respect us so little they demand we always agree with them and obey them.

    Anyway, I have been reading through your archives and I seriously think you are my new hero. :-) Thank you.