I gotta wonder about the fine line between taking care of my son’s psyche and coddling him. I got a lot of crap early on from friends and family about the kinds of choices we made for him (e.g. sticking to a rigid, firm nap schedule) and I heard things all the time like, “Kids are resilient; he’ll be fine.”
I don’t want him to be “fine.” The truth is that we never know what choices we make as parents ultimately affect our kids and in what ways. People will say, “Well, I did such and such and my kid turned out ok.” But how do you know? How do you know that the such and such didn’t affect the way he will communicate as an adult in relationships, for example? Yes. Your kid is fine. But is that the goal? Is the goal just to keep them alive and cute?
I know you can never really know what results your parenting choices will have. And I am also not saying that I am a better parent than anyone else. But I do make a lot of unpopular decisions in child-rearing because I believe that the alternative, while maybe more convenient for me or more attractive to society, will ultimately be somehow destructive in a nebulous sort of way down the line.
I think this is what people mean when they say that parenting is the hardest job you will ever do. Sure, the day-to-day can be trying. Like when it’s 4pm and your 3-year-old who has recently given up the nap is battle-worn and beat and you’re the same and all he wants is your attention and all you want is to never ever ever hear his tinny little voice again. I certainly don’t count those among my favorite moments, but that’s not what really makes parenting hard. It’s the constant worry, the investigation, the planning, the caution, the love so intense that just the thought of his pain makes your shoulders heave with sobs. And, for me especially, someone who is very motivated by instant gratification, it’s the drive to keep on making these difficult and unpopular choices, hoping that they will pay off in the long run.