Everyone's an Expert

I’m the kind of person who likes to do the right thing. If the sign says, “No Passing” you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll continue following that car that’s going 2 mph even though there’s not another car for miles to come. That’s just who I am. Not sure if I was born that way, or if it was something I learned along the way, but I’m a big stickler for following the rules.

But it was that particular part of my personality that made parenting so challenging for me in the beginning. The hospital doesn’t send you home with a manual explaining the right way to bring up your children. And my head was spinning with all the conflicting advice I was getting from doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, and pediatricians, not to mention my mother-in-law. I mean, how could the pediatric nurse practitioner advise something totally different than what the pediatrician had? They work in the same building, and it the same practice! Shouldn’t they be on the same page? It was literally driving me to tears (with the help of my crazy hormones, I suspect). I just wanted to hear that this was how you do it, so I could go home and do it that way and feel satisfied that what I was doing was the right thing.

And then one day, I went to a new mothers’ group and heard those simple words that changed my whole outlook on parenting. The facilitator said, “Every mother is different, and every baby is different. What works for some moms and their babies doesn’t work for other moms and their babies.” And although what she said was so simple, it was so freeing for me, because it somehow made it okay for me to try out different techniques to teach my babies to nurse, to get them to fall asleep, to calm them when they were screaming their heads off. Because the recommendations from a particular “expert” might work for some moms and some babies, but they it might not work for us. (And even what works for one twin does not necessarily work for the other.) As parents, we know our children best and have to learn to listen to the expert within us to guide us as we make important parenting decisions.

Which leads me to present day. Several family members have told me that my daughter appears to be ready for potty training. My son, clearly, is not. They have just turned 22 months old, and although I hadn’t planned to even think about potty training until my guys were about 2 ½, I happen to believe that it is possible my daughter just might be ready to give it a try. She does show some signs of readiness (thanks for the link, Sadia), and I actually feel like I’m ready to take this on.

The experts certainly have a lot to say about potty training- when a child should be ready and how persistent or relaxed the approach should be- but I know it’s okay if I don’t agree with all the wisdom they have to share. I’ll start by following the advice that seems to fit best with my own philosophies, but in the end it’s going to be all about what works for us- trying things out, adjusting the game plan, even going back to the drawing board if necessary.

And while I had hoped (perhaps expected) that my twins would potty train at the same time, my gut tells me that it’s okay to give it a try with just one. Perhaps my son will surprise me (we do have training pant for him just in case), or maybe I’ll learn that really neither one of them is ready quite yet. We’ll just have to wait and see.

So how do you navigate through the sea of parenting experts? Are there experts you swear by? Or do you like to chart your own course as you go? (Any potty training tips would be greatly appreciated as well.)

You can read more from reanbean at reanbean.com.

8 thoughts on “Everyone's an Expert

  1. In the intro to The Good Enough Parent, Bettelheim points out that no parent is going to seek out or follow advice that doesn’t fit into their existent parenting philosophy. Sure, they might try different techniques, but they won’t completely change their attitude based on some expert’s say-so.

    My husband and I are the experts on our kids. Even though they’re genetically identical, they need to be guided in different ways. I think it’s the fact that they’re identical and yet so different that gave me the confidence, very early, to chart my own way, only listening to the advice that made sense to us and our particular situation.

    Melody potty trained overnight because she wanted her Daddy to be proud during the 10 days he was home this summer, and Jessica potty trained the next day to get the praise her sister was getting. This was, of course, after 19 months of me getting frustrated, trying to train, abandoning the attempt, trying to train, and abandoning the attempt, and of them seeing many many classmates successfully master the toilet.

    Good luck!
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Oh, the tantrums =-.

  2. When you mention potty training, everyone wants to give their opinion. With four, I really had to learn to relax and take it one day at a time. It took me nearly 6 months to potty train all four. Two caught on within days. The other two could have cared less, so I didn’t push it. So many people (without multiples) think multiples will automatically learn everything at the same time. Not true… and as the parent you’ll figure out who’s ready to do what when. Good luck!
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..Snip, Snip…waaah! =-.

  3. I think separately is best! The most surprising thing for me about potty training was how freaking exhausting it was….for me. It messes with all your routines and errands and activities and makes them much harder for a while. It might just be too overwhelming to do two at once—I certainly feel that way. Not that it mattered, since my son was having none of it. My daughter potty trained in October at 2 1/2 and has been completed trained (except for night/nap since I refuse to move her out of her crib to a bed yet, although she does wake up dry)–her brother wants nothing to do with it. Still. We have gotten him to get excited about sitting on the potty and to sit for a story, but that’s it. All that crap about “if you train one, the other will do it because of the peer pressure” might be true for some twins, but not mine.

    Feel free to email me if you want to hear about our potty training adventure so far. I certainly learned a lot…

  4. We are no where near potty training yet but as far as listening the the experts, I tend to go with whatever advice fits my life and my personality and what I think will fly with my kids. Since I am kind of a hard-ass, I tend to side more with the hard line experts than the warm and fuzzy experts, if you know what I mean. Kind of like Sadia said, I won’t even consider advice that isn’t somwhere in teh realm of my parenting philosophy, no matter the rave reiviews. I also try not to give too much advice to other moms unless I know that they are seeking it and/or they are of the same parenting philosophy as me.
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..Toddling Times Two =-.

  5. I like this post. That is exactly what I needed to hear from my Mom when I was trying to breastfeed the girls. I am also a rule follower and want to know the best way to do things. But when you have twins, the added pressure of trying to the “right” thing is just too much too handle. Parenting is definitely does not lend itself to a one-way fits all approach. That is part of what makes parenting a creative and always interesting excercise!

  6. I agree … there is no one right way. The main thing I’ve learned as a parent is that everyone has to decide what is best for their family.

    Before I had kids, I thought I would never have a child that wasn’t potty trained at the age of three … but here you have it. My son is a hold out so far.

    I thought I would potty train my b/g twins both at once … so I waited for my son to be ready … and waited … and waited … finally I decided to split it up … my daughter trained fairly easily and I’m still waiting for my son.

    The only advice I’d give for potty training is to not rush it … it’s a learning process … I’ve never understood why kids get to slowly learn everything but how to use the bathroom by themselves.

    Also, I keep them in a diaper or pull up at night until they have gone 3 months with a dry diaper … and I put the large wee wee pads (the ones they use on hospital beds … only I use the large ones that are cheaper at Pets Mart) under their sheets after they are out of diapers for another couple of months.
    .-= Merri Ann´s last blog ..A New Kind Of Diaper =-.

  7. There is definitely no one way or “right” way to parent! Thank goodness!

    My advice for potty training is NAKED TIME, or at least ditching the diapers whenever possible. Which is harder indoors an in the winter time, thats for sure. And also hard on your furniture and rugs, if you have them! But I found (and am finding again) that my girls are SO much more aware of what they are doing when they see and feel the pee immediately.

    Also, I think doing it one kid at a time (first your daughter, later your son) might actually be an easier way to do it anyway! Peer pressure/encouragement goes a long way, once the readiness is there, too. Good luck!
    .-= Kristin Hutchinson´s last blog ..Breakfasting =-.

  8. I muddle around– parenting in my own way. I try to follow my instincts and remind myself that if I am compassionate with my children then hopefully they will learn to be compassionate with each other and their slightly crazy mother.

    In terms of toilet training, we just had our potty sitting out for months and when my oldest daughter seemed to be interested we put her in panties and let her have at it. Then, of course, I went and had myself a set of twins and all hell broke loose.
    .-= Samantha´s last blog ..Enid: An Update =-.

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