I Refuse to Potty Train My Daughter

Julie Ryan Evans

Potty Training
Photo by SnarkyLiterati

When my son was born, I was an annoyingly happy, in-awe, love-struck mother. There was virtually nothing he did that didn't fascinate me, no diaper I didn't want to change, no sleepless night I wasn't willing to give up.

It was all a happy baby bubble ... until potty training came along.

Then that bubble burst so quickly and so violently that I feel like I'm still wiping its residual droplets off my forehead four years later.

When he turned 2, I bought a potty chair and put it in his bathroom - to let him get used to the idea. I had done my research, and then some. In the subsequent months I bought books, countless potty seats, potty chairs and any potty accessory you could imagine.

None of them worked, and though my Type-A, control-freak self was a bit annoyed, I wasn't all that concerned. Until I signed him up for preschool -- a preschool in which he had to be potty trained by the time school started in August (he'd be 3 August 5).

That's when it started to get ugly.  

The tears (both of ours), the battles, the sheer exhaustion of trying to get him to do what I knew he needed to do. I have never felt so little control over anything in my life. And in retrospect, I'm sure he simultaneously had never felt so much control in his short life.

Somehow between letting him "spray" the trees outside when he had to go, numerous bribes and me just sending him to preschool praying he could make it without having an accident for those few hours, we did it. He went to preschool, I relaxed, and it at least appears that he has suffered no long-term damage from the traumatic experience that was potty training.                                                                                                             

I, on the other hand, have a clear case of PTSD (potty training stress disorder).

Almost immediately after the elation of learning we were going to have a second child that we never thought we could, I realized, "Holy hell, I'm going to have to potty train another one."

But I've decided I'm just not going to. I'm going to let her (now 14 months) do it on her own time, in her own way. I'll provide the potty chair and cheerleading, but that's it. I'm not going to try to cajole, coax, bribe or beg (except myself -- to keep this vow and not again become that crazy potty trainer I was).

If she can't go to a certain preschool until she's potty trained, then we'll find another one. If she's in pull-ups until kindergarten, I don't care. I'm sure before she goes to college, she'll figure it out.

Has anyone else taken a hands-off approach to potty training? What have your results been?

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