Parenting Standards I Have Dramatically Lowered Since Having Children

How does the saying go? I was a much better parent before I had kids. I'm not sure I'd say that's 100 percent true for me, since I knew exactly diddly-squat about child rearing prior to that fateful day when an actual human made its miraculous and only slightly horrifying exit from my personal body, but I can identify with the truth behind it: before I plunged into the great unknown of motherhood, I had a lot of ideas about how I'd raise my children.

Some of them have remained at the top of my priority list. The importance of laughter, for instance. Showing my kids that I love them through words, affection, and action. Dragging their reluctant butts to swimming lessons, even though I hate sitting next to a sweaty-ass pool.

But more often than not, my lofty ideals about parenthood have fallen by the wayside. Call it compromise, choosing my battles, or call it the reality of the trenches ... either way, here are some of the standards I gave up on a long time ago:

Feeding my kids nutritious foods at every meal. I used to think my kids would eat fruits, vegetables, proteins, and avoid processed foods at every meal. HA HA HA HA HA HA *wipes tear, doubles over* HAAAAAAAAAAAA. Well, I was blessed with two of the pickiest eaters on the planet, and while the 6-year-old has gotten better, I'm lucky if I can force a turkey dog and a handful of Goldfish crackers into the 4-year-old on a daily basis. There was a point when I would insist that my older son try everything on his plate, but after a thousand nights that ended with EVERYONE in tears, I decided I didn't want to die on that hill. My boys get separate kid-friendly meals each day, and while I sort of wish they had a healthier, more adventurous diet, I CHOOSE SANITY.

Quitting all diapers by a certain age. At one time I was convinced that I could make potty training happen on my schedule, not theirs. Could I have been more wrong? Man, I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to just chill the hell out, that each kid is different and some kids can't be bribed with stickers and that as endless as it felt, I wouldn't be scraping feces out of someone's underwear forever. To that end, I've decided not to care about a certain someone's reliance on night pull-ups. Sure, I could be waking him up every night and doing the zombie walk to the bathroom to life-coach him through a pee break and washing load after load of bedding and possibly making him feel bad about himself, orrrrrrr ... you know, not.

More from The Stir: 10 Mom Confessions About YOUR Kid

Trying tons of new group activities all the time. I used to think it was important for small children to be exposed to all sorts of different sports and activities and classes and then I realized the reality of shelling out hundreds of dollars and driving to and fro in order for a preschooler to do a supervised "roly poly" down a gym mat. At this point, we do karate and swimming and that seems like PLENTY.

Dressing my kids so they don't look like hobos. This is a fine goal for any parent, up until the exact moment when your children want to dress themselves. Then they will appear from their bedrooms looking like they took a direct hit from an air cannon loaded with the Goodwill reject bin, and wow, hey, look at all the fucks you do not give.

Teaching the correct pronunciation for words. Yes, I suppose I should encourage my kids not to say "gots" or "what that is?" or "favoritest," but come on, that shit is adorable. My 4-year-old calls my laptop a "picuter." The other day my 6-year-old was talking about how our night-prowling cat had turned "nocturtle." NOCTURTLE YOU GUYS. Whatever I may have thought about the importance of teaching my children to use proper English, it's far less important than enjoying the charm of their kid-isms now.

What parenting ideals did you give up on when you had kids?


Image via Linda Sharps

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tinyp... tinypossum

Love it and agree 100%! My three year old calls a remote a "merote" and it's adorable.

Desir... Desireesmom2011

Iol I loved this article and my favorite part was the F.R.I.EN.D.S. reference cause that's my favorite sitcom. I haven't yet experienced giving up on most of the things I have always said I would definitely make sure I do as a parent cause my daughter is only 9 months old. But I'm gonna give it my all and see witch battles I choose to give up on.

cmjaz cmjaz

Ha! So true!

Amy May Moss

I have to admit, I do correct my kid's pronunciation. It kind of kills me, because, OH THE ADORBS! But when you get a kid with an articulation disorder, you can kind of give no quarter on that front. If I don't call his attention to his mispronunciation, he'll never notice it and correct it on his own. And while I love it when he does those sweet little kid mispronunciations, I'd kind of prefer for him to be intelligible to other people, especially peers. ("nocturtle" for "nocturnal," totally intelligible. "Mare Grrr" for "Mater the Greater," not so much.)

Rebecca Maldonado Dacke

We shamefully thought our daughter wouldn't be the kind of baby who would scream in a restaurant. yeah right. We know it's fun for her and she loves the sound of her voice, others will just have to deal.

And I used to not be able to be around other people when they're sick. Now I've been pooped, peed, sneezed and thrown up on so many times I can handle anything.

Eques... EquestrianMom

A note on the kidsims, my son had a ton, and they are adorable! I have always told him so, but also told him how to say it correctly. My ex's family? Not so much, they actually encourage his "baby speak" and now, my five year old has been flagged repeatedly by his school for SPEACH DISORDERS! Although, when he goes in for testing, and mommy tells him he must pronounce his words and speak legibly, the teachers are puzzled because he pronounces things fine. But in daily speak he still says things like Tookie instead of Cookie (how cute gramma declares!) or I Wuv you instead of I LOVE you (adorable! Says auntie) and what does school say? Failure to develope proper speach! So be careful with that, or at least  with encouraging it!

Melis... Melissa042807

My 2 year old pronounces milk as "duck". I call it milk when talking to him, but I don't push it. He can call it "duck" as long as he likes. It's not like he's going to go to college calling milk "duck". LOL


That's the filter I put most things through. Another mom and I were talking about potty training and I mentioned that we didn't feel our kiddo was ready yet and she said "THANK you! I wish more moms would be like that instead of acting like potty training is a competition. It's not like they're going to be asking on his college application at what age he potty trained!" So that's my filter - it's not like he's going to go off to college doing *insert cute/frustrating/very typical kid thing here*. 

LizB86 LizB86

Nice article. I'm with you on a lot of these, especially the eating. The only way I get veggies into my six year old is to mix the pureed Gerber stuff with vanilla yogurt. Sounds nasty, but it works! On the bedwetting, though, you do have other options than the ones you described. We just trained our deep sleeping, never woke up to pee daughter (6) to get over her bedwetting using an alarm system. No "zombie walks";they have a very high success rate; and the kids are so proud of themselves when they learn to go at night like big kids!

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

I think if a kid can say a word correctly but chooses another then it's cute but if they can't get it right then they need to be corrected. My son is perfectly capable of saying baking but he still insists on calling baking powder, making powder because you use it to make cakes. He's also perfectly capable of saying blueberries but when he was little he used to say boo-brays and it stuck. We all call them boo-brays now when at home.

nonmember avatar Shannon

I had a lot of big ideas before I had my son but most of them fell by the wayside eventually. I don't care if he gets dirty anymore, I stopped pushing him to eat and let him decide when he's hungry, I let him watch cartoons in the morning and before dinner so I can get some stuff done, and I don't worry about his speech (much) anymore. My MIL is a speech pathologist and she always pushes him to pronounce things correctly. He's 2 1/2 for crying out loud; just keep pronouncing stuff right yourself and he'll learn eventually.

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