Toddler Tales: Goodbye Baby, Hello New Year
Tomorrow is the first day of 2013 and my child will be 23 months old. Just one month until he is officially two. I find it hard not to look back at the past year and wonder if I gave my child everything I could possibly give as a mother and provider. I am suddenly frightened that I missed out on the most important moments of my son’s life. I’m afraid that I made mistakes raising him. I doubt my parenting choices. Have I been too harsh? Or too lenient? Do other parents question the way I raise my child? And the most dreaded question of all – have I done anything wrong? As I re-read the questions, I realize, I can answer YES to all them.
Perhaps I have been “too harsh.” While I do set many limits for my child, this is how my husband and I believe that the best way to raise our son is by providing him with consistent expectations. Our son has been a very “spirited” child since birth and as as he rolled into his second year, he began to “challenge” our rules and limits. Most of the time he smiles coyly while defying my requests. However, other times have truly turned into a parent-child tug-of-war, with both sides determined to “win.” It’s difficult as a parent, even though I usually win these battles, I am left with a teary (and angry) toddler. While I may be “harsh,” I would rather have an upset child who knows what his parents expect from him, than a confused (and also upset) child who doesn’t know what’s coming next.
At times, I can admit I have been too lenient. One rule I try and enforce in our house is healthy eating. I am adamant about fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and good fats. I stay away from processed and fried foods (most of the time) and avoid soda. However, raising a picky toddler can make mealtimes difficult. While some days he is open about trying new foods (usually when he is starving), there have been days – and sadly, weeks – where he has eaten nothing but cheese, fruit and chicken nuggets. Mealtimes is one battle I refuse to fight. Our son has been tiny from birth and as long as he is eating, I will not starve him to get him to eat only healthy foods. So yes, I may be too lenient with the types of food I feed my child, but I want mealtime to be a pleasant experience for both him and us.
I am 100% sure other parents and individuals question the way I raise my child, just as I question the way they raise their own child. As parents, humans, and individuals, we are raised to speak our mind and have our own thoughts and beliefs. With that territory also comes judgement and criticism, whether we mean it in the nicest – or not so nice – way. The best thing we can do when feeling criticized or judged is to remember that we are all not so different; some of us just learn to channel and utilize “filters.” Just remember, it’s not a bad thing to have opinions, however not everyone may appreciate your opinion as much as you do.
Finally, have I done anything wrong? YES! I’m sure I have made many mistakes when raising my son. Too many too count. But who cares? The more I dwell over my past mistakes, inconsistencies in parenting, the times where I lost my patience, or when I threw in the towel and regrettably acted more like a toddler than my son, I dig myself deeper and deeper into the pit of parenting failure. And what does that do for me or for my relationship with my son? Nothing. I have learned – although sometimes I feel I must continue to remind myself – that we all make mistakes. We all feel like failures. But, in the end I know my child loves me, looks up to me, and will grow up to be successful and loving, as long as I continue to praise and love myself.
What are your goals and hopes for the new year?