My 2-and-a-half-year-old has a particular quirk about her personality that makes potty training almost impossible. Had she been my first instead of my second, I would currently be Googling the heck out of the situation. I’d be asking every parent I run into for advice, and worrying about milestones and other people’s children as I fell asleep at night.
As it is, I’ve barely even bothered to try any actual “training” because I know that if I wait it out, the quirk will probably pass and her desire not to soil her diapers will overcome whatever other desires she’s grappling with.
When this happens, she’ll probably “train” herself. It’s like the oft-heard phrase from the seasoned parent: “She won’t be going off to college wearing diapers, using a pacifier, crying hysterically when you leave, (insert parenting concern here).”
Of course, not every issue our kids have warrants the “just a phase” attitude. But I have to admit that I’m surprised to see just how many of them do; how many seem like red flag warning signs and turn out to be merely red flares that burn out on their own. I can’t even count the times I’ve searched in vain for a solution to a concerning pattern or behavior, only to wake up one morning and realize it’s gone. Or, often, I realize in talking to another parent that my child used to do the same thing they’re concerned about and think, “Oh yeah, what happened to that one? She never does that anymore.”
Just think of all the hours I could have saved not researching the thing in the first place! What’s more, taking this kind of long-view attitude when these concerns show up can do so much more to encourage a quick shift than focusing on fixing the problem and possibly causing more trouble with self-consciousness and power struggle.
My friend Melissa Wilkins is often the first person I run to when I need an ear for my parenting woes. With five children and a wildly successful mama-blog, melissacamarawilkins.com, she is the Queen of Calm. With my first, it took me a while to realize that many of the issues I brought to her attention were met with a similar response. It went something like this: “Well you could try A, or possibly B, or you could just wait for it to pass, if you can stand it, it probably will.” Then she’d smile sympathetically, offer a cup of tea, and I’d remember why everything always seemed better at Melissa’s.
When asked about this phenomenon Melissa says, “This is one of those times that having a tribe of mom-friends comes in handy. Because you can call one of them, and she will reassure you, and then she will tell you how much weirder a phase her own kid once went through. And you will feel better, because her child is now perfectly normal (mostly), so yours probably will be too…eventually.”
Another friend says she tries to foster deep friendships with parents who have grown children. This way when she worries that her daughter will forever be embarrassed to speak to her in public or her son will always melt down when asked to clean-up, she can see clear examples that it won’t go on forever.
Again, I don’t mean to imply that truly concerning or intolerable behaviors should be ignored. But working on a trouble spot with the knowledge that it may soon solve itself may help both of you to move through it more smoothly. Perhaps, if you’re really struggling, you can call your own parent for a story about something vexing you did as a child and then remind yourself that you turned out alright in the end. Of course, in doing so, you may end up with so much sympathy for your parents that you may become flooded, unable to think of anything else when they’re around. But don’t worry, it’ll probably just be a phase—this too shall pass.