I'm Not Afraid Of An Unhappy Child

When my daughter was a tiny baby and she cried, I was very attentive. When infants cry, they need something, which was usually food or just being held close (at least for my daughter.) I was not a proponent of "cry it out"--not that there is anything wrong with it, it just wasn't for me.

But those days of having an infant are gone now. My daughter is over a year old and firmly planted in the "toddler" stage. She doesn't cry because she needs something (generally speaking), she cries because she wants something. And that's a whole other can of worms because "want" and "need" are two totally different things.

If you're a regular follower of my blog, then you know that I didn't read a lot of parenting books. To be exact, I've read exactly one, Bringing Up Bebe, which I totally loved. The author talks about how always soothing a child can basically lead to them suffering later on in life. They have to learn that things aren't always going to go their way, and it starts sooner than a parent might think.

For instance, here's a list of reasons why my daughter has cried in the last week...

I closed the refrigerator
I closed the dishwasher
I put up a baby gate
We got out of the pool (after 40 minutes--the nerve!)
She was done eating and we didn't immediately process her request to get out of her seat
I refused to let her chew on any number of inedible items
I put her in a carseat

...you beginning to see what I mean? Toddler cry because they are expressing themselves. Because they are downright pissed. And it's cool. But that doesn't mean I have to feed into the meltdown of the moment.

I'm just not afraid of having an unhappy child. This doesn't mean I'm cold, or unfeeling. I often say something like, "I'm sorry that you can't have what you want." I do try to redirect. But sometimes, I just let her sit there and cry over the refrigerator door being closed and allow her to feel out her upset. It rarely lasts long, and before you know it, she's doing the next crazy toddler thing.

I find that others are quick to try and soothe my daughter when they are around...but I often discourage it. Just because I'm social doesn't mean I need other people to parent for me. If she's gonna melt down, sometimes I am going to let her because it's a part of my parenting philosophy. She has to learn that sometimes there are disappointments, and she is fully capable of getting over them. And I find she truly IS capable of getting over it most of the time. Yes, there are always exceptions, even for me. I figure, I make the rules, so if I feel the need to break them, I will.

At the end of the day, I have to take a long view. I'm aiming for a highly functional adult here, not a momentarily soothed toddler. So a few tears are shed. I think it'll ultimately make her a better person. I find that helicopter parenting and over soothing are a real problem. And children today are so freaking coddled, it makes me sick.

Yes, kids are cute, and brilliant; none more so than your very own. But do the world a favor and stop acting like they need to constantly be happy because it's not realistic. Sometimes you gotta cry. Being a parent is not about always being liked. Sometimes you gotta do the dirty work of helping your child build character. At least that's my take on it.

And it's why I'm not afraid of having an unhappy child--at least a little bit. 

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