As a parent, you need to really understand the why behind your goals, rules, and policies. This is especially important for parenting siblings.
I have talked many times about the importance of “why” you do things, not simply how. In The Parenting Breakthrough by Merilee Boyack, she brings up a great point on the importance of why.
Every child is different.
If you plan to have more than one child, you can’t just go through your first child figuring out the “hows.” Well, you can, but then when child two comes around you will have to re-learn everything all over again.
Because each child is different.
The way you held child one will not necessarily be effective with child two. If, however, you have ingrained the why into you, you will be able to roll with the punches and apply your philosophies to parenting child two just as well as child one–if not better.
Real Life “Why” Examples for Parenting
Let’s take some examples from my children.
First, a simple example.
When Kaitlyn was born, I definitely treated her like a mini-Brayden at first. I really didn’t know any better. It took me 6 weeks with Brayden to figure out that he needed gas drops after every meal. So when Kaitlyn was born, I was sure to give her gas drops after each nursing.
But Kaitlyn seemed to have poop that was entirely too runny. I had the thought to stop the gas drops, so I did. The poop went to a normal newborn poop.
When McKenna came along, I evaluated her before assuming anything about her. In the end, she did need gas drops.
Now for a more complex example (complex to figure out). This involves early waking.
Brayden has always been the type where if you give him an inch, he does his best to take a mile.
So if he woke early and you went into his room, he woke early as often as he could after that. I had to figure him out and discern the difference between him needing me and him trying to get me in there.
He was also the type during CIO that if I tried to soothe him during the process, it only upset him more. He did much better if I backed off.
Kaitlyn was very different. She has never been the type to take more than you give her. Going in once didn’t mean going in every day for a month. And during CIO, if she was crying, I needed to go in. It helped.
Now, if I had assumed she was just like Brayden, things would have been a lot harder with her.
Then take McKenna. She didn’t cry at all for naps ever. So when she started crying in the evenings all of a sudden, I knew something was wrong.
I could have assumed she just needed to CIO, but I studied her as an individual and figured out it was witching hour.
It is very important to remember that “why” you are doing something is the goal, and how you get there is not necessarily important (there are of course times when how matters, but so long as how is in sync with your goals, you are fine. There are many ways to achieve your goal–in other words, many “hows”).
Children Change Over Time
Boyack brings up another great reason on the importance of why…
“So not only am I coping with different kids, but they change every year and even minute by minute sometimes. It’s like waking up every day and finding a new computer sitting on your desk. How are you supposed to keep up with that?”(page 7)
Let’s go back to Kaitlyn. During CIO, she needed me to go in at 20 minutes if she was still crying. That was great for a while, but then me going in at 20 started interfering. So I had to wait a couple of minutes beyond that.
It is like the post “Just when you got it, everything changes.” I know we can all relate to the child changing thing. You will need to change your game plan many times throughout your parenting journey. Sometimes many times a day! If you don’t know why you are doing something, you will get too stuck on how to even come close to your goal.
So once again, I implore you to study the “whys” and analyze your beliefs an goals. I promise your life will go much smoother if you do.
- Understanding Why vs. How When Parenting
- Adjusting for Context Using Babywise
- The Ever-Changing Child
- Book Review: The Parenting Breakthrough
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