Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Parenting Truth #58: Needs
Parenting Truth #58: A toddler will not cry if all of their needs are met. Unfortunately, their needs include every drop of life, patience, energy and sense of self you ever had. In other words, all toddlers cry. If you lose yourself to making them happy all the time, you will be the one crying and that situation doesn't lend itself to a happy home or a well-adjusted child.
I actually saw a fellow stay home Dad (and alleged child psychologist) tell a group full of new parents that, "babies with their needs met won't cry."
"What kind of a mind fuck is he trying to put on these poor people?" I thought. Just what new parents need to hear, right? If your kid is crying, you are doing it wrong.
I agree infants need you and need something when they cry. I also know that being a parent who has to get things done around the house means sometimes babies have to cry for a few minutes while you handle the business of taking care of a house, cooking, cleaning and caring for other children. As infants cross into toddlerhood, things change. Their idea of what a "need" is increases drastically and their reaction to those "needs" become more dramatic and much,much louder.
My advice is to do your best to raise a happy child, but don't fret about the cries which are inevitable. I spent the morning cleaning the kitchen while Link cried his eyes out following me around or barricaded within view outside the kitchen so I could mop and sweep (OK, I just swept... sue me). He was happy for a time when he was allowed to help me unload the dishes. Of course, his "help" made the task take me twice as long (which is to be expected) and he didn't understand why I wouldn't let him help me with loading the dirty dishes... so he bawled. He was happy when I put some food and a spoon in front of him and he made a giant mess (a normal, albeit annoying, stage of development), but then he cried while I wiped his face, changed his shirt and cleaned up the debris field. Cleaning had to be done though, and I figure he will cry a lot more if he comes down with an E. Coli infection so I'll lose zero sleep over letting a toddler cry while I clean. You reassure them verbally and you do what you've got to do, but picking up and tending to every "need" of a toddler is impractical, impossible and will soon lead to your own mental breakdown and/or an outbreak of the plague in your house. Don't worry parenting partners, if your baby/toddler is crying it doesn't mean you are doing it wrong. It doesn't mean you are doing it right either, but who can figure that out until the kids leave the house and stay out of a jail for a few years anyway?