Toddler_hopscotch

Parenting: fake it till you make it.

I am a stay at home mom. My husband and I have been married for 4 years and we have 2 children: Eleni, who is almost 3, and Alexander, almost one and a half. Most of the time, I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent. Sure, there are times when our children’s needs are obvious, but being completely responsible for someone else’s soul and livelihood is terrifying.

Once I told my mother that I felt like parenthood was a “fake it till you make it” situation. She replied with a “yup.” Gee, thanks for making me feel better, mom. I knew I was considered a guinea pig for my parents, since I am the oldest of 7, but I thought to some extent that was just a joke! But I’m beginning to realize just how much of a guinea pig I really was now that I have one of my own. I pray that my oldest is much more understanding than I was.

Discipline is probably one of the hardest things that parents have to do. Enforcing that our babies have to hold our hands while crossing the street or keeping them from eating candy for dinner is the easy part. There are so many more situations where it’s hard to know if we, the parents, are making the right decisions. Since my children have only reached toddlerdom, I haven’t had to deal with anything too tragic, but one thing we are struggling with is hitting. It started with Eleni, but Alex has picked it up from her. When this happens, my husband and I make them apologize to each other.

When it’s Eleni’s time to apologize: brace yourself. Here come the tears, screaming, and drama. We require her to look at Alex and say, “I’m sorry, Alex.” A hug or kiss is a nice bonus. She’ll refuse for a few minutes, but suddenly her whole demeanor changes. She smiles through the tears, rubs Alex’s head, says, “Dorry, Alex,” and gives him a kiss. This can leave my husband and me scratching our heads and wondering what made this kid change her mind.

Alex is not yet a year and a half and he cannot talk yet, so when he hits his sister, he has to give her a hug. He doesn’t fuss and scream about it. He just has this look that says, “I’m pretending that I hate giving hugs, but secretly I absolutely love this.” It’s one of the cutest things that happens in our household because Eleni loves getting hugs from her baby brother. Too bad it’s tainted by hitting. If only we could teach them to hug each other when they feel like hitting.

Are we too strict? Are we too easygoing? Is our method of discipline going to cause emotional trauma? Are we raising lazy children? How does anyone know if their method is the correct one? There are times that one method works for one child, but not for another. And what if your spouse disagrees with your methods? I imagine that these are constant questions for most parents, judging by the gazillion parenting books that have been written. But here’s where the guinea pigs come in. And by guinea pig, I mean the person that has the great honor of being their parents’ trial run, their first, the oldest. I have a soft spot for oldests. I don’t think our younger siblings fully appreciate all the work we had to do to properly train our parents. LOL.

Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, the parents of Mary the Mother of God, must have been superstar parents. They raised someone who was willing to carry and look after the Son of God! If only they had written a parenting manual. I guess that wasn’t the popular thing to do back in their day. Thankfully, since we’re Catholic, we know that we can ask for their help. Here’s a quick little prayer that I found: “Parents of Mary, pray for all parents that they may provide the loving home and faithful teaching that you provided your daughter. Amen.” It’s short and sweet and can easily be said between wiping that runny toddler nose and cleaning the juice that’s all over the floor because you forgot to push your glass back on the table where the one-year-old couldn’t reach it.

Photo credit: By Ilya Haykinson (Flickr: hopscotch) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

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