Babies are just SO cute! We’ve had nine months of picking out tiny outfits and decorating the nursery in joyful anticipation. The rocking chair stands ready to gently lull our softly cooing child peacefully to sleep. The reality can be quite different! For us, it involved reassuring each other that everyone has to sleep at some point. The issue seemed to be that our child and her parents had totally different ideas of when that should be. In fact, it didn’t seem like we were in sync with our little cutie on much of anything. Of course, that was true and why shouldn’t it be?
Newborns have no frame of reference for hunger and wet bottoms, nor for the countless other experiences in the world they’ve just entered. So, in our efforts to help our new babies feel secure and loved, we give them exactly what they want, exactly when they want it. One essential ingredient of good parenting is timing and it’s important that this practice doesn’t continue when they’re no longer babies. Even though a child may be demanding his own way, it doesn’t necessarily mean he really wants it. Parental guidelines and boundaries add to a child’s sense of security.
There are cultural influences that can affect the way we raise our children. One thing that is almost “in fashion” right now is to let even small children make inappropriate decisions. For instance, we know a young boy whose mother has allowed him to eat only hot dogs and macaroni & cheese. Does a child have the ability to really understand the health ramifications of such a diet? Of course not! Yes, children should be encouraged to mature into making wise choices. Contrast the hot dog story with the parent who says, “We have green beans, carrots and peas; which one would you like to have today?’