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9 Things I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Child

1. Internet lists are a whole bunch of bs. Yes, even this one (well, really it’s more snark, but wev). We’ve all seen those [Random Number] Things I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Girl/Boy/Girl lists, right? Guess what. Bullshit. I can honestly say that I’ve experienced all 19 of the things listed in the Girl and Boy lists from Today.com at least once between my two children. Not according to the breakdown there, though.

2. Kids are different.

3. No really. Even identical twins.

4. If you go into parenthood thinking that any one thing is going to determine your child’s personality, you are in for a world of disappointment. Now, I know this is hyperbole (at least I hope it’s hyperbole), but egads.

5. Trucks and automobiles and teddy bears and glitter and flowers are in your future. Because almost all kids like these things. You know when they especially like them? When we get the hell out of their way and let them learn for themselves what they love.

6. A trip to the ER is in your future. It may be because your child is 11 weeks old with a 102 degree fever (my first trip with my son), or because your child has fallen and cut themselves on a dollhouse (my second trip with my son), or because they tripped while wildly playing and fell off playground equipment (my first trip with my daughter). But you will almost certainly have some sort of emergency that requires medical attention at some point in the first 10 years of their lives. Not because they are boys or girls. Because they are kids.

7. Your kid may be way more or less gendered than you expect. You may have a kid who loves pink. Or a kid who loves blue. Or who loves tutus or dressing up like a superhero. Or who loves playing with Star Wars toys or My Little Pony. Your kid may like catching frogs in glittery shoes or tucking their baby doll to bed in cowboy boots. Or every single one of these things depending on the day. Because all of these things are super cool and fun. Or, no matter how egalitarian your household, you might have a kid who picks up on every gender stereotype and runs with them.

8. Your kids will challenge you. No matter who your child is, even if they are your mini-me, they will rock your world in ways you never thought possible. Just when you think you have a handle on bedtime or favorite foods or how to get your long haired child to let you actually brush it for once, they will throw a wrench into your well laid plans.

9. Parent the kid you have, not the kid you thought you wanted. So, damn. I said I was going to be all snark, but really, there is some serious stuff here. If you take anything away from this, please let this be it. Love your kids for who they are. Encourage them, sure. Share your dreams with them, fine. But don’t live through them. Live with them and love them for who they are.

Featured image by flickr user cavale.

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Emily Sexton

Emily Sexton

Writer of incomplete novels, entertainment lawyer, mom of two with a wide age spread, blogger here and elsewhere, wannabe vocalist and v/o actress, atheist, weirdo. That last bit went without saying. Find Em on twitter @emandink and maybe she'll use it more.

9 Comments

  1. July 11, 2014 at 4:35 pm —

    Em – I love you. I especially LOVE number 9. This is the truth.

    • July 12, 2014 at 11:46 am —

      Thanks Steph! <3 I'm thinking of turning that into a meme. Think we can get it going? 😉

  2. July 11, 2014 at 8:41 pm —

    #4! Unless you’re really truly negligent or twisted, the kids will be okay. I feel like nurture is big, but nature is bigger. Not sure if this is what you were referring to.

    • July 11, 2014 at 9:51 pm —

      I was thinking specifically the idea that a child’s sex- which is really what we’re talking about when we’re talking about kids who are too young to even grasp gender differences – is going to be the most important factor in their personality. Sadly I know there are people in the world who are unwilling to put a 4 week old infant in the “wrong” color because it might mess up their gender identity.

      I think you’re right on the broader point too, though – for non-abusive, non-negligent parents, no one thing is going to mess a kid up in most cases. I’m not sure where I stand on nature vs nurture on a broad personality basis, but there are definitely distinct differences between children pretty much from birth, which really did stun me with both kids – that my firstborn had such a personality before we even left the hospital and then that my second had such a different one in the same timeframe.

      • July 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm —

        Definitely. It took having a second baby for me to realize that a lot of personality is innate. I’m certainly no expert, so all of what I’m saying is anecdotal 🙂

      • July 13, 2014 at 5:23 am —

        In my experience, parents with opposite sex children will claim that each and every difference between the kids is due to X and Y.
        First, this ignores the fact that people treat their different sex children very differently, second it ignores the vast experience of same sex kids who have kids with totally different personalities as well.

        • July 14, 2014 at 9:06 am —

          Yesssssssss. I’m not denying that there are some kids who really do fit the stereotypes, but when from the moment they are born (or even before in some cases) the way that kids are talked to and about and dressed and even cuddled is modified based on gender assumptions, it’s hard to argue that any child is completely divorced from self-forfilling expectations.

          • July 14, 2014 at 11:55 am

            My kids are rather stereotypical when they are aware of a certain stereotype. They identify as girls and they want to fit the role society has handed them. I noticed with both of them how much their world shrank once they started kindergarten and became aware of the stereotypes.

          • July 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm

            With my son I haven’t seen as much of a drive to fit in to the stereotypical roles. But I do wonder if that is in part because the expectations, at least in the US or our pocket of it, are largely limited to the breakdown between “sporty” and “non-sporty” kids. There’s a lot of room for exploration within the latter category. I’m hopeful that preschool will be an innoculation against the kindergarten world shrinkage for my daughter, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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