“Follow your baby’s cues,” they tell you for feeding and sleeping when you are dazed and confused and just coming out of one of the most traumatic experiences of your life.
“Infant led weaning is definitely the best. It’s Nature’s way,” they say as you have managed to make it through the early months or years of feeding.
“Your child will know when it’s time for potty training,” you hear when you are sick to death of changing and buying diapers and your child has figured out how to get into (or out of) the dirty kind.
And the list goes on.
My question is simple:
At what point does it stop?
When will you as the parent take charge and guide this unknowing little human through life?
Isn’t that your job?
Do you take the wheel at 3? Maybe as soon as the little tyke has decided to be potty trained? Is that when the “transfer of power” happens? Or maybe you wait until school age. Teenagers?
Or do we keep waiting for the baby to pass the wheel? Let them lead in that also.
When will your life go from “infant led” to “parent led”?
Indeed, there are some who teach that parents should always let the child choose:
- “Let them eat dessert first and they’ll learn that it doesn’t make their bodies feel as good as vegetables.” (I ACTUALLY read this!)
- “Let them go to bed when they get tired. They know when they need sleep.”
- “Let them decide who to love.”
- “Let them experiment.”
- “Let them choose their gender. Who are you to tell them if they are a boy or girl?”
Uh, HELLO! I am their PARENT. That’s who I am to tell them. There is no other way for children to arrive on earth except to come through parents. There has to be a reason for that.
Maybe it’s because babies don’t really know as much as some people want to give them credit for. Maybe children don’t make the best decisions for their health if left to choose their own meals and bedtimes. Maybe we are supposed to actually DO something other than keep them alive and validate every decision they make.
“Infant led” lives are train wrecks. Not just for the parent but for the poor child trying to lead. How unfair. Welcome to earth. Now lead us. Seriously? You’ve got a couple decades on this baby. Suck it up, do your job, and parent.
If that means you have to actually discipline, do it. If that means you need to set a bedtime, set one. Or, if that means that you tell your new little baby that it is a he, I hereby give you permission to do so. We have a nation of coddled and confused kids for a reason.
They have been trying to lead without ever getting the chance to learn.
And I declare enough.
It’s time to step up and parent. Teach some values. Set some schedules. And stop trying to pass off your responsibility to your children.
Oh, and to answer my own question of “at what point does it stop?” – today. Today is the day it stops, and, if you are lucky enough to have a newborn infant, that transition will go more smoothly. But regardless the age of your children, today you become the leader, someone they can look to to guide and teach them – the parent. Today, change to parent led living. Your grandchildren will thank you.
Update 9/13/2016: After receiving some comments through social media, I realize I need to address some further ideas.
First, I don’t feel that most of these things in and of themselves are wrong or bad. It’s more a mindset that I’m trying to point out than the actual actions themselves. The mindset of letting (or making) children dictate your every move is detrimental to all of you. Following cues of readiness or deciding that you want to wait to potty train aren’t BAD at all. Allowing your 2 year old to become a tyrant because you simply don’t know what else to do is.
Second, teaching your children to make decisions is the goal of every good parent. I in no way intend for you to make every decision or never let them try to lead at anything. I absolutely know that children can not function under those conditions. But neither can a young child be expected to function under the weight of making every decision. It’s a process that should happen over several years of practice and learning. In fact, one of the issues I addressed of “at what point does the parent take the wheel” is actually the opposite of ideal. (Nice rhyme there!) Ideally, we should start by making most decisions for our children and then start passing the wheel to them. By teenagers, they should be pretty good at leading a lot of their lives themselves. But even then, they should not be expected to guide us or lead us as parents. That is unfair pressure and stress.
Hopefully that cleared a few things up! This is why I love comments from my awesome readers! Thanks.