Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things No One Likes to Hear

If you're a parent, you should just never talk about the following:

  • How great your child sleeps
  • How much sleep you're getting
  • How smart your child is!
  • How they're already solving quadratic equations
  • How much weight you've lost since having the baby and how you're back to your pre-pregnancy size
I'm not saying these apply to me or my kids necessarily. I just hate hearing it from other people. Other than the weight thing, I'm convinced that how well a child behaves and how well it sleeps is not an accomplishment. It's not the same as "Hey, I climbed Everest!" These sort of things are all dependent on luck, in my opinion. To some extent, even losing all the baby weight is a bit dependent on luck (provided you haven't gorged yourself all through pregnancy) because of things like genetics and metabolism.

My point is that all too often, parents tout the qualities of their child without realizing that this sort of talk sends other inexperienced and perhaps slightly more unfortunate parents into a panicked frenzy. "Wait, so and so's daughter sleeps all night already? But mine still wakes up every hour! Oh no, I have failed already as a parent!" A difficult baby does not equal failure. I can see from how different my kids are that it is not due to lack of effort or attention that sometimes kids are difficult. My first is a very different creature from the second. He was always, from the moment he was born, spirited. He was anxious, impatient, grumpy, and would fly into a rage if he didn't get what he wanted. As an older child, we have to work to get him to control these impulses and that, in my opinion, does warrant some praise. However, his tendency to cry at the drop of a hat, wake up non-stop up until he turned 1.5, and his, let's say, overzealousness (he could never sit still, especially when we went out to eat) are due to his personality, not anything we did (although we did contribute the genes, so in a sense it is because of us but there's nothing you can do about that). Having a second child who is much calmer, I realize that this too was not a result of anything we did, but just luck.

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