Stop Forcing Kids To Grow Up Too Fast

Stop Forcing Kids To Grow Up Too Fast

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ANNIE OTZEN/GETTY IMAGES

Before I actually had kids, I was the best, made-up mom ever. I told myself my babies would be off of their bottles and pacifiers by the time they were one, I wouldn’t stand for grocery store outbursts and they would eat healthy food from day one. And I used to actually and full-heartedly believe that I would not care what kind of toddler wrath reigned it’s holy terror on me because of it. 

Basically, I thought that my kids would grow up when a book told me that it was time for them to grow up.

Let us all take a moment to laugh out loud at my complete lack of knowledge in parenting ways… Ha-Ha-HA! 

Let’s just say, I never knew I’d be so tired before I had kids…. real fact. (I regret every single nap I’ve ever passed up in life.) Everyone says it, sure, but it’s an exhaustion you’ve got to drag yourself through to believe. 

Therefore, I don’t know about you, but there have been times where I’ve adapted to a very, “OKAY, FINE,” type of attitude with my kids. 

“We are done with ba-bas, sweetie.” 

Thirty minutes later: I’m up to my tits in a sea of toddler tears and their little bodies are wrapped so tightly around my legs that we’ve become one.

“OKAY, FINE!” (Anything for just a moment of peace, am I right?) 

It’s not my most proud parenting technique, but if you’re looking for a method to cure your madness, this one works.

Now that I’ve grabbed a rope and come to terms with the type of mom I wish I were and the type of mom I actually am, I hate the sanctimommies I think I was projecting myself to someday be. 

For example:

“Aren’t they a little old for that?,” a sanctimommy stated while glaring at my almost two-year-old twins holding their own bottles. 

In that moment, I should’ve rang her over the top of her well-polished and freshly showered head with a formula can. Better yet, I should’ve shoved said formula down her mouth and cleaned it with a “chemically-infested” baby wipe, but I didn’t. 

Instead I just walked away while creating a hypothetical “I should’ve said this” type of response in my head:

Well, SUSAN.. aren’t you a little too old to still be a prissy and snooty bitch? Yet here we are. Maybe you’d like to come to my house at two in the morning when the wailing and full-out screaming for the “ba-ba, ba-ba, BA-BAs PWEASE” begins?

I’ve recovered from that critical statement, and now that my oldest kids are four-years-old, I’m selective about the “okay, fine” parenting technique I used to freely live. 

Surely, they can’t get away like that for the rest of their lives. But is it really so bad if all children aren’t alike in the span of time that it takes for them to “grow up?” I don’t know about you, but I want them to be little, and I want to let them be little.

My four-year-old son still sleeps with a security blanket to this day. It’s a raggedy old thing due to all of the wear and tear, and he loves it. He calls it his “pink.” Lord knows that boy will not go to sleep without it. And if he’s ten years old and still sleeping with that same loved and worn out “pink,” I would never dream of taking it away.

They grow up fast enough as is, and I don’t want to force it to happen any quicker than it’s already approaching. That being said, there are certain limitations. Of course, I’m not going to allow my children to have bottles, suck on pacifiers or their thumb if it’s hindering their health. But, none of these things have posed any sort of risk thus far. (I’m an “okay, fine” mom, not a head-in-the-sand one.) 

Not every child is alike and, therefore, not every child will develop, or even “grow up,” at the same rate. A big part of development is emotional development. Which is, the ability to control, interpret and deal with emotions. 

Thumb-sucking, pacifiers, security blankets and bottles are all comfort items. (Just like the warm cozy blanket and that hot cup of coffee you HAVE TO snuggle up to on frigid mornings. It’s the same, just think of it like, kid-version.) 

Emotional development stretches beyond comfort control and grabs hold to those tantrums we’ve all grown to learn (but not love) are part of raising small kids, and I feel there is little to no compassion for children’s emotions once a certain age is reached. 

I’m going to be real: in my adult life, I have had tantrums (and I’m guessing so have you). I’ve had moments when I feel so validated in my emotions, and when I’ve raised all of what Hell has to offer, I realize I was a bloody fool. 

(Or, I was just hungry.)

There’s been times in my parenting where I’ve tried chiding and forcing the tantrums out of my kids, because I was just so freaking sick of listening to it. Or I was embarrassed that others had to listen to it too. 

But if others can’t have some compassion or leniency toward the uprising of a little person, they aren’t worth getting upset about their opinion. It doesn’t matter whether they like kids or don’t, but they do have to tolerate them because we don’t live in a childless world. And, we can’t hold kids to the same (or higher) standards as adults.

Adults (myself included) need to remember that even adults can’t always control their emotions, so why would we burden a child with that same unrealistic expectation? A child’s emotional development needs help navigating its way through complex and validated feelings. 

While my children are young and even when they aren’t, I’m not going to stress about putting an end to something solely because a mommy book told me so. Or worst, because I feel pressured to do so. I’m all for the loveys, thumb-sucking, the one’s who are “lagging,” and every single one of the children who fall somewhere in between. They grow up fast enough without us speeding along the process — let the kids be kids.

And don’t be like Susan. Keep your nosy, uniformed, unsolicited opinions to yourself.