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By Kimara - Posted on 12 March 2008

            Often, it seems like parenting is all about asking “Is my child ready to…whatever?” Think about how often you’ve been confronted with this question…“Is my child ready to be weaned, or potty-trained, or go to school, or read, or date”? It seems there are tons of books and magazines and well intentioned friends and family that are willing to help you answer those questions. As parents of growing children we are always assessing their “readiness” for any life situation, BUT, what we often fail to give credence to is the equally important question “Am I ready to let them do…whatever?” “Am I ready to sever the bond of nursing, or tackle potty training or let my child go play at a friend’s without me, or drive, or even, get married”? One of the trickiest parts of parenting is being able to balance your child’s readiness with your own.


Parenting is many things, but it is not a neat mathematical equation. We might be able to say,


            Circumference = 2 Pi Radius


But we cannot unequivocally say,


            My Child’s Readiness = My Own Readiness


Successful parenting is not only about writing the equation, but effectively balancing it! (Ah, and you thought you’d never use algebra again!) Although you might think you have your child’s best interest at heart, if it’s in direct conflict with yours, it can get very messy! Case in point…


            I nursed all three of my children. With my first two I had to wean them at eight and ten months old because I needed to go on medication. We were not ready for the transition…the decision was out of our control! When I had my third, I was determined to nurse him until he went away to college! (Okay, a little exaggerated, I really didn’t have a planned stop date, but I did plan to nurse him for much longer.) At around 12 months old, he began to lose interest in nursing. We switched over to daytime sippies, but I held on to the “tuck-in” nursing at the end of the day. This went on until he was 18 months old, when finally he had had enough. I could just imagine his little brain thinking, “For the love of God, woman…put that thing away!” After a couple of frustrating evenings, I realized, like it or not, he had weaned himself. (You’ve heard the old adage, “You can lead a baby to boob, but you can’t make him drink!” Truer words have never been spoken!) I had rationalized that it was in his best interest to keep nursing, but then I realized he no longer needed it, and I was trying to force my needs on him! I knew my third would be my last baby, and I truly wasn’t ready to give it up nursing yet. My readiness certainly did not equal his!


            So, what do we do when our readiness is out of sync with our child’s? First, you need to acknowledge that you both have needs, and that they won’t always be the same. Second, life is all about compromise…even with our children. I’ve always told my kids, “Choose your battles wisely”, and this certainly applies to parenting! Next, make sure you define and understand both your child’s and your own readiness. Perhaps your child has exhibited many of the signs of potty training readiness, yet, if you’re not ready, chances are the process will be stressful and take far longer than necessary to accomplish! Finally, when you are out of sync with your child, ask “why”. When I examined my disappointment at having my son wean himself, I realized what I liked best about it was the quiet time it afforded us. I wasn’t always able to give my third the one-on-one time I had given the other two…and nursing was the one excuse I always had to be alone with him. It was something no one else could do and something that gave me guilt-free alone time. After I understood that, I too was ready to wean…but I protected the “tuck-in”, and we had many years of quiet one-on-one time at the end of each day. Understanding the “why” helps us deal with these inevitable discrepancies.


The next time you ask “Is my child ready?” make sure you ask, “Am I ready?" too!


It seems that from birth children are in a hurry to grow up. As parents we often desire just the opposite. Given the fact that our basic goal appears to be in direct conflict, I think we all do a pretty darn good job! 

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Being a parent is really a lifetime and a noble job, all we can do is give best, love most, care like no other. Parenting is indeed the best role we can have in life. - Flemings Ultimate Garage

I like your comment about there is no one size fits all solutions unfortunately a lot of people think so! I also like the comment about kids being the best parenting mentor. I know you didn't mean letting them tell you what to do but really listening to their needs.

Thanks for your input...And I will just add this...I've found, over time, my children have been my best parenting mentors! Books and friends, blogs :) and teachers have one slant on life, but ultimately, each family is unique, as is each person, and there is NEVER a "one size fits all" solution. BTW...I have found children to be very patient teachers...and persistent! They are also very forgiving. The one thing that most parents have going for them is their earnst desire to do the best for their children. That, is 90% of any situation!

Wow. I read this this morning and I walked away for a while. I told you about the hard time I had with my son in kindergarten now I’m wondering if it wasn’t really my fault. I know I wasn’t ready for him to go to school. I think I felt like I was pushing him out the door. I wasn’t overly excited about it with him and he probably felt my apprehension. Boy, when he started crying so did I. Could I have handled this worse? I just assumed he wasn’t ready. Thank God he’s finally liking school. Maybe he felt my attitude change a few weeks ago. Not sure. How come kids don’t come with a service manual, even a toaster does! I’m not going to beat myself up over this but I am going to be a little more careful about projecting my feelings on them. As always Kim, thanks for giving me something to think about :)

Frequently it seems that children are ready for something before the parents! But I think you are right that parenting in all forms requires lots of balance! I think it's also important to focus on your child's needs, and your own, but not necessarily be swayed by what 'everyone' else is doing. Parents are so often concerned as to how their child matches up with 'average' or the neighbor's or whoever.