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.