Monday, April 14, 2008

Don't Let Church become Your Potty Chair

By Christine Thackeray

Years ago I had a friend come up to me and tell me that she could potty train any child by the age of twelve months with this wonderful new book she had bought. At the time I had three in diapers and was desperate so I believed her and anxiously borrowed the book. On the appointed day I faced my fourteen month old son armed with various types of Kool-Aid, M&M's and Cheerios for target practice.

By the end of the day both my son and I were in tears and the entire house was covered in pee. I threw away the book and my young son started hiding the potty chair. For months afterwards it would mysteriously disappear either under his bed, in a closet or in the garage. Due to this bad experience he never did use the potty chair and two years later finally began to use the toilet. I believe it took him much longer to master this skill than it otherwise would have because of that awful day.

Recently we have been given a lot of direction from church leaders about our families. As parents we must encourage our children to do many good things but we need to be sensitive of what they are ready for. I have a son (not the same one) who recently hated Stake Dances. At first I was inclined to force him to go but then I backed off, not wanting the church to become his potty chair. As he has gotten to know more people in the stake, I've watched his attitude slowly change and now he enjoys them.

Parenting is difficult. If we push too hard, we can sometimes do just the opposite of what we intend. We need to teach our children but also respect their agency so that the church doesn't become their potty chair.

AND as authors don't write books that make outlandish claims about simple solutions to complex issues or I may just have to come, hunt you down and attack you with M&M's and Kool-Aid.

7 comments:

Marcia Mickelson said...

We're going through the whole potty training right now. Thanks to your post, I won't even think about Kool Aid. I agree with your advice thought. Each child is different, and I think that forcing them to do things that we think are right for them can backfire sometimes.

Kerry Blair said...

I had to read the post if only because of the title! (Will you name my next book?) Loved it! You're very wise. If there's one thing I learned from parenting four kids through the terrible twos and terrifying teens, it's to choose as few battles as possible -- and those very carefully.

Emily Cushing said...

Loved your post! I had the exact same exhausting experience in potty training my daughter (we were also following the advice in a book my neighbor suggested.) I finally laid off and decided to never "push" the potty training thing on another child. My second daughter was successfully potty trained last Friday and I hardly did a thing--we had a much better experience. I liked how you compared potty training to church--you make a very valid point.

Rebecca Talley said...

You make me laugh. I agree with you. I've never forced the potty training issue. They'll potty train when they're ready and I'd sure rather change diapers for a while longer than the contents of one all over the house!

Tamster said...

Amen, Rebecca!!! :-)

Kimberly Jensen said...

It took us four years with each of our boys...it felt like eternity. I love your analogy...I'll come with you with the M&M's and Koolaid!! I have a son that has never "been by the book" and never will be..but he has been a blessing and a joy and I wouldn't change him a bit.

Randal S. Chase said...

Amen to everything you said. If there were absolute formulas for raising perfect children, then our Heavenly Father would not have lost 1/3 of his to their own agency. I have a wayward child who I love with all my heart. That's my part--to love them. Our Father (their Father) will teach them. And between us, we will give them every opportunity to return. In the meantime, my goal is to make sure they know that my love is not conditional.