All the perfect parents, raise your hands!
I hope not a single one of you raised so much as a fingernail.
I’m not perfect and I don’t claim to be. I am learning just like the next parent, and one of the biggest lessons that I have taken away from parenthood is that each child is different, which means that I have to parent each child differently.
For me, that means that Styles responds well to praise and negatively to constructive criticism. Madilyn responds well to…nothing. And Grady seems to respond to a slightly raised voice and redirection. Styles was sleeping through the night at 2 months, Madilyn was crying herself to sleep until about 6 months ago, and Grady is still up a few times a night after 2 weeks of sleeping through the night.
Did you hear that?
I heard a loud, resounding gasp for air from all of the NON-Cry-it-Out parents out there. You know the ones! The ones who swear that your child’s brain cells are depleted by the millions with every tear they shed.
I call BS.
There is a difference between a child who is scared for their lives screaming, and a child who is pissed off that she has to be in her bed instead of joining the party in the living room.
There is a difference between letting a newborn cry, and a child who is one or older.
Kids are STUBBORN and guess what? They don’t know what’s best for themselves. Staying up with Mom and Dad until midnight is WAY more fun than going to bed at 8. But as my children’s parent, I know that they need their sleep for positive brain and physical development.
So that brings me to:
“Bad Parenting” Technique #1: Crying it out:
We tried everything with Madilyn including nursing her to sleep then laying her down, rocking her to sleep, letting her stay up, letting her sleep with us, and crying it out (within reason). What worked for her?
If you took Madilyn in any of the scenarios that I listed above. she was screaming in anger as soon as you put her in bed. She could wake up from a deep sleep to tell you how pissed off she was that you weren’t going to let her stay up with you. We finally realized that after telling us through her cries (because that’s how babies communicate), that she was mad at us, she would quiet down after about 15 minutes and fall soundly to sleep where she would sleep until 3am for a quick nurse. I know many parents in the Attachment Parenting circles would never admit this in public. I just did so you don’t have to.
That same scenario doesn’t work for Grady. He will cry frantically all night long if you let him so I go in to him when he wakes up and I pat his butt until he falls back to sleep.
Different child. Different parenting. Does that mean that I’m not an Attachment Parent? Nope. It means that I’m an Intuitive Parent and I parent my children according to their own individual needs, not my own ideals.
“Bad Parenting” Technique #2: Not Changing a Dirty Diaper IMMEDIATELY
Grady takes about 30 minutes to empty his bowels. If you change his diaper immediately upon smelling a little turd, that time is extended to about 90 minutes. If you just let the kid poop and hang out in it for about 30 minutes, he will empty his bowels in short spurts over the course of a half an hour. If you change him as soon as you smell a turd, you will change approximately 4 diapers over the course of an hour and a half.
I’d rather let him finish his biznezz than change 4 poopy diapers, what say you?
“Bad Parenting” Technique #3: Body Parts & Their Names
I took a Psychology of Human Sexuality in college and the one thing that REALLY stuck with me was to call your children’s privates by their anatomical names. This removes any confusion and shame associated with private parts. A penis is a penis. A vagina is a vagina. That is what they are and there is nothing dirty about those names. Madilyn knows that she has a vagina and that Daddy, Styles, and Grady have penises. There’s nothing nasty or sexual about her saying those things, she’s just calling a rose a rose, you read?
“Bad Parenting” Technique #4: Independent Play
I let my kids play independently. A lot. I am not up their rear ends all day long, though sometimes they are up mine. I allow them to play in the play room or in Madilyn’s room. I let Styles play in his room and use his imagination without interference. I don’t use flash cards on my 2 year old to teach her the alphabet and I don’t insist that she learn to read or do mathematical equations at this age. At the age of two, anything that they are taught is strictly memorization. Your kid can read? Your 2 year old knows their alphabet by sight? It doesn’t impress me. Let me bust out a book that they’ve NEVER seen with nary a picture and then we’ll talk about toddlers reading.
I know I sound harsh, I’m just being honest.
There are other parents out there like me who feel inadequate because of all of the kids around them who know their alphabet and small words by sight. Forget them, my friends. Forget them. All of our children will catch up by 1st grade.
I think that at this age, independent play is extremely important. Styles played independently and didn’t know his alphabet by sight until he was in VPK at the age of 4. He also cried it out for a few nights before he could sleep through the night. Guess what? He’s in the gifted program, consistently scores “above average” on state tests, doesn’t have to study one iota to get an “A” in a class, and is a relatively well-rounded kid. So for us? Independent play it is.
“Bad Parenting” Technique #5: Let Them Get Hurt
Yeah, you heard me right. Let them get hurt. How on earth will they ever learn what NOT to do if you don’t let them make mistakes? I mean that in emotional terms and physical terms. When Grady is running down our slanted driveway, on the verge of falling flat on his face, I let him fall. How else will he learn to be more cautious? When Styles would rather play than work on his science fair project, I let him play so that he learns how much it hurts to cram your project into one weekend. How else will he learn to have time management?
And when my kids hurt themselves physically, you can bet I’m in the background clapping my hands and screaming, “YAAAAAAYY!!!!” instead of running to their aid. Teaching them to act dramatically when something bad happens just sets them up for relationship and work failure in the future.
Call me stony. It’s what I do.
I have 5 more “Bad Parenting” Techniques that will be continued tomorrow.
What “Bad Parenting” Techniques do you practice?