Parent peer pressure! If you’re a parent (regardless of how old your child is) you’ve most probably been exposed to it. The need to conform, to tow the line, to hit the milestones at exactly the right moment. To breed and raise a mini-super-human that is equal if not better to any other child that walks the planet.
I have never felt parent peer pressure more than when it came to potty training…
I was reminded of this when I heard about a trend currently sweeping the world – potty training from birth… yes, from birth!
Nappies are permitted during the night, but for the majority of the day, parents would watch their newborn bundles of joy for signs of the need to pee or poo, and then swiftly hold them over the potty.
It made me think back to being a first time mummy. Trying to cope with the shock to the system of this life changing event. Trying to establish breastfeeding and operating on minimal sleep. I tried to picture adding potty training to the mix and even from my comfortable current established mummy state, the mere idea sent me into a mini meltdown.
At the time I came to potty train my second child, I was exposed to a lot of parent peer pressure…
Every one had started it. So I caved and started the process with my daughter – but it went wrong. Deflated, I questioned why we hadn’t succeeded.
And then I remembered back to the experience with my first child. With him, I had found the experience reasonably easy. There was no secret behind it other than I didn’t start the process just because everyone else was. I waited. I waited until I felt very assured he was ready and able to take this on. Yes I bought the Pirate Pete’s potty book and read the potty training advice books like a good student, but ultimately, I let him go at his own pace. Realising this, pausing the process and taking the same approach with my daughter, worked.
Over the years I have had many friends recount over coffee their potty training nightmares. Working themselves into a complete state of anxiety that their wee little one was going to do one little wee on my floor. ‘I don’t understand why Josh isn’t taking to this?’. ‘My friend’s daughter Olivia has been on the potty for 6 months now and she’s two months younger.’ Here again rises the problem of parent peer pressure and our need to compare our child’s progress to others.
Let’s face it, your NCT friends are great, but it’s near impossible not to panic when you hear their child has reached a milestone and yours, as yet, has not. The majority of baby & toddler groups has that one parent who is constantly pushing their little one and chirruping very loudly when something is accomplished – leaving the rest of the group to question the competence and ability of their own kids. It’s parent peer pressure at it’s finest!
Yet don’t feel guilty if you do give into parent peer pressure. We’ve all done it!
I don’t want to think about the amount of time I spent at the doctor’s/midwife’s questioning why my son wasn’t developing at the same rate as Jack, who apparently came out of the womb reciting his ABC’s.
But know this… Just because your child couldn’t do something on the same week as another doesn’t mean they are going to grow up being unable to walk or talk, read or write. That is all going to happen – when it is right for your child. Every child is different, wonderfully unique and very special.
All we can do as parents is accept this truth and fill our little one’s lives with love, security, encouragement and support.
Very soon you stop counting your child’s existence in days, weeks and months and you move to years. Whilst the competitiveness and concern never fully dissipates from most parents (myself included) by consciously choosing not to buckle under parent peer pressure, you’ll find you’ll naturally stress less over how your child compares to another.
I have found since I switched my energies into just enjoying my children, they have naturally started to blossom at a rate which I know, ultimately – regardless of the fact that they couldn’t use a potty since birth – they are going to be OK.
Returning to work soon after having children? Read: How to make returning to work after having children easier
Have you faced parent peer pressure? How did you handle it? Do you agree not to compare or do you think the suggested ‘competition’ is healthy? Whatever your thoughts – I’d love to hear from you!