Adventures in Drool: Are you nurturing?
As new-ish parents, we have this idea of ourselves. We see visions of nurturing young minds and bodies; setting goals and meeting them; loving, cuddling and living a content, happy life.
While I was pregnant, I fully believed that once the baby was born, I would fall madly in love and develop this nurturing side.
As a young woman, when people asked how many children I wanted someday, I would always say none. It was always my sister who was the babysitter - the nurturing one.
But then I had a baby, and I thought those feelings and behaviors would magically appear.
Just like weight-loss – nothing is magic.
Developing nurturing feelings takes time and practice. And, babies, especially toddlers, are endlessly frustrating. My son is an angel, I will be the first to say it, but he is also an opinionated small man, and sometimes that can be like nails on a chalkboard ... you know what I mean.
If you name a parenting book, chances are I've read it. Many of them talk about big issues like potty-training, spanking and education. Not many talk about becoming a nurturing parent.
Nurture is defined by Merriam Webster as the sum of the environmental factors influencing the behavior and traits expressed by an organism.
This means our children are growing up to be what we have shown and taught them. It means everything about their environment is training them to be a person. It is up to everyone in the child's world to make sure nurturing is a part of the training, so the little one knows how to become a nurturing adult and parent some day.
While I often address my blogs to moms, dads have to get in on this one too. Both parents need to develop that nurturing side. It may be something completely new. It will likely be difficult, but with regular practice, it will certainly be worth it.
To the point – here are a few things I am working on in order to become more nurturing. (Note: This is a blog, so of course this is just my opinion.)
1. The Pause. Often Droolface will start heading for a tantrum because he can't get what he wants, or maybe because he can't express what he wants. Not having words is so difficult, so I try to wait and see if I can decipher what the problem is. Sometimes, he just wants something he isn't allowed to have; in these cases, I often let the tantrum run its course, then hug him and tell him I love him. In other cases, I guess what he wants and talk to him about what that object is called. Sometimes I realize he already calls it something and I didn't know.
2. Hitting. For so long, I didn't think Droolface would be a hitter. He snatched, but usually didn't hit. Lately, he has started hitting. Mostly hitting me. Most of the time I tell him not to hit. I am not even sure he knows what this means. I know he knows what 'no' means, so in some cases I take his hand and tell him no. But then there are times he catches me by surprise and clocks me in the head – my immediate reaction is to smack him, which I have done. But, in an effort to be more nurturing, I am trying to not take it personally. I am trying to teach him that hitting hurts others, so I am trying to stay with explaining that it hurts and telling him no. Otherwise, he may think it's OK for me to hit, but not OK for him, which doesn't seem fair to either of us.
3. Affection. Droolface gets plenty of hugs and kisses from everyone around him. We all adore the little guy. And, he shows his affection regularly. This is something I hope to keep up. So often, our kids are loved when little then they become a 'big boy' and the affection stops. Teaching children to be 'big' includes teaching them to show appropriate affection.
That's what I have for now. How do you try to be your most nurturing self?