Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Potty Training Escapades

There is always an ideal image in our minds of what the perfect parent is like. The perfect parent has their child potty trained at 6 months old, at which point that child can speak, walk, do simple multiplication facts, and converse comprehensibly in a foreign language, preferably Latin. This child of the perfect parent grows up to behave perfectly. Tantrums? What are those? The perfect parent's child is well-mannered, smiles at strangers, doesn't mind being told "no," and immediately responds to any request given, especially the command that involves the cleaning of one's room. Said child is the perfect reflection of the skills, fortitude, discipline, and genius of the perfect parent.

The problem is, though I am the perfect parent (because I am the only parent beyond my husband to these children of ours), I am dealing with imperfect children. And, um, I have some flaws myself. Namely, I've never raised children before. When God dealt out His children, I didn't have to hand out a resume. If I had, I wouldn't have ended up with the angels I received! But, my "angels" are not always little angels, despite my exhaustive efforts to turn them into such. They have minds of their own, abilities that occasionally surpass my own, and character traits that I don't even know how to deal with.

Every child is different. So I have to admit that it really bothers me when others give unsolicited, though well-meaning?, advice on how I need to parent. Rand and I know our children better than anyone else, besides the One who created them. I spend all day with them! I know their maturity levels and capabilities, which is why I have to padlock all doors before taking a shower and leaving them alone for a few minutes.

This leads me to question why people put so much pressure on parents to potty train  their children (or whatever else the case may be). I don't know about you, but I have never been asked when I was potty trained. I don't really care to know that little fact about myself. So why the competition? We all eventually use the bathroom at some point, and though I don't want to be showing my ten year-old how to use the toilet (it'll be more like putting the seat down!), I think I would know better than anyone when my kids are ready to be trained. And the age at which they do so is no indication of their lack of intelligence or my laziness.

I've heard of parents who bribe their children with candy, leave them in underwear for a week straight, use a doll that pees as an example, set the timer for ten minutes, or teach their child to slap their hip when needing to use the bathroom to rush their kids out of the diaper stage. People before my time may have potty trained their children at an earlier age because of cloth diapers, but for a very long time, humanity has had to go outdoors and do their business in a pit. In modern times, it's a different story.

Elise was three year's old when she completely potty trained herself. Because I waited until I felt she could really grasp the understanding of what was going on, we had zero accidents (except when she had no ability to get out of her room and go - which never happened again, thankfully!), and she had no problems at night. She was tall enough to use the real toilet, which meant no dumping/cleaning of a miniature toilet (disgusting!!!!), and I was ready. I knew that if we were to go to a store or on an errand, she would be able to communicate to me her needs prior to leaving, or at the location.

I've caught some flak for not potty training my son by now and I don't understand why? He is two and though he can communicate unlike anything I've ever observed, I know he's not mature enough to be potty trained yet. This is the same kid who pees all over himself after getting out of the bathtub - probably normal for a boy, regardless of being potty trained. :) I'm not rushed. I know that he will show interest when he is ready and I also trust that it will be far before he is in kindergarten. Pushing that independent little person with a strong will of his own, will not get me anywhere! I've learned this the hard way!

Lesson Learned:
Trust your instincts! Know your child and respond accordingly - that might be going forward and that might mean waiting. It will happen. But most of all, have confidence in who you are as a mother, beyond what any other person may suggest, regardless of age or amount of children, etc. Your child is unique and therefore, your situation is unique. There is no "one" way to raise a child and there are no perfect parents. That ideal image isn't real.


  1. We are so alike it's scary! Oh and uh, Matthew isn't potty trained yet either and he's three! Surprisingly though, I have not gotten any flack about it. I guess people probably have figured out by now that I'm just weird and different and that trying to conform me to the norm would just be a fruitless endeavor on their part! :) Yay for being who you are and not being ashamed of it because you really are a GREAT mother!

  2. I felt pressure to potty train Hannah at 18 months. So I tried it. BAD idea. Now she knows how to do it all, but she won't do it. Therefore, I am waiting until she is ready to do the whole thing independently and without accidents. Why not, right?
    I've heard of a few stories. One where upon entering Sunbeams and being the only one in diapers embarrassed them enough and made them determined enough to be potty trained from that day forward not even with one accident and staying dry the whole night through! And this is a boy.

    Next example is of a girl entering KINDERGARDEN, yes, you read that right, but the mother knew what she was doing. The mother was over the fighting and accidents, so she waited until her daughter was ready. It took the first day of school and the teacher being shocked and perhaps disapproving, but it only took one day. The girl (like the above story) was so embarrassed that from that day forward, she too was determined and was potty trained from that day on.

    Again, why not wait? No accidents to clean?! I'm in!