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What do peeing in the potty and personal responsibility have in common?

by Laura on April 22nd, 2013

Here’s a news flash: I am a big fan of not buying diapers, of not having to make sure I have plenty on hand, of not having to travel with diapers in tow for long trips. And that’s only regarding clean diapers.

I am a huge fan of not having to change dirty diapers.

So cute, right? I knooooow … until that becomes a poopy diaper.

So, it may come as no surprise: I love potty training. No, that’s not quite right. More accurately, I love having kids who know how to use the potty. Correctly. 99% of the time (the 1% covers male toddler aiming issues).

It’s not just that I enjoy not having shit on my hands, although that’s a big plus for me. What? You don’t like getting baby poop on your hands during a diaper blow-out, Laura? What kind of self-deprecating, dedicated mom are you? Don’t even get me started reminiscing about the 10 months that I had two kids in diapers.

“Sharing secrets” … back before M turned 2 it was one diaper down, one to go …

Yet here I stand by my clean, sweet-smelling hands. I love potty trained kids. Why? Because potty training is a person’s first experience with personal responsibility. Children have to learn not to wet themselves, and not to soil themselves. It requires self-awareness to know when you need to go. It requires discipline to be willing to stop playing for the 78 seconds it takes to run to the potty, pee, and get back to your friends. And yes, a good bit of age-appropriate pelvic-floor muscle control.

I’m not here today to talk about when that should happen, or even how. I’m here to talk about the type of “can do” attitude that potty training instills in a kid’s life, and what type of parenting outlook it sets for us.

These days, instead of hearing about personal responsibility, we hear about parental responsibility, teacher responsibility, school responsibility, government responsibility, and society’s responsibility. Some people are talking about raising responsible kids, including blogger Tim Elmore, He gave some great advice in, 3 Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids.

The article has lots of concrete examples and advice, but here’s the Executive Mommy Summary:

Parents don’t let kids take risks and thereby learn. We rescue our kids (and college kids, too!) too quickly, from even the potential of pain, even a possible bad grade! We rave prematurely.

Tim’s right. But for this mom-of-little-kids, it all starts with personal responsibility, one of the first opportunities, yes, is getting themselves out of diapers.

Of course, baring major issues, everyone eventually learns how to use the potty. What I’m encouraging is acknowledging the importance of personal responsibility in a child’s life. For example, after the initial training period, it should not be Mommy’s responsibility to remind said child 100x per hour if he needs to pee. Said child must learn this himself.

Hence, peeing in the potty = a first step towards personal responsibility.

Hallelujah! Zero children in diapers = personal responsibility implemented, or at least begun. Now, if I could just get them to fold that darn blanket.

Moms, by having your kids to take responsibility for their own bodily functions, you’re teaching them an important life skill. Added bonus: it lets you off the hook just a little, and it reduces mommy nag-time.

Just in case you want to thank me later, I’ll be happy to shake your poop-free hand.

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50 Comments
  1. Carrie Grimes permalink

    Here here! Yeah…. Twins… They have been up for 5 hours and I have changed 6 diapers. Charlotte started showing signs of interest in the potty (or rather not having a messy bottom)at 13 months. She was fully potty trained, including sleeping through the night dry by 22 months. Of course that was with one. We'll see how we do with two at the same time!

    • Laura permalink

      Hey Girl! It's great to see you commenting over here, Carrie!
      OMG — 6 diapers in 5 hours. Geez. But you are such a great mom, I'm sure the twins will be trained and happy with clean bottoms in no time!
      Laura

  2. Dear friend of mine who raised three girls always said kids were not fully independent until they could clean their own ears! It's not just about the potty.

    • Laura permalink

      Von,
      So true! It's not just about the potty, but being able to use it properly is, I think, the first step in learning how to function as a responsible human being. My son does like to clean his own ears, though …
      Laura

      • Mrs. Bo permalink

        Well I have been cleaning my husband's ears for him for years (he say I do it better)….so what does that say about him? Hhaha I suppose he isn't fully independent then!

  3. Lesley Earl permalink

    It's late September and my baby is 20 years and has just gotten a kayak and he is showing me some moves…and by accident he flips the kayak upside down so now he's under water…I'm standing about 20 feet away and dry and waiting for him to right the kayak. And I'm still waiting …and I start to question HOW long do I wait? I mean he is old enough to buy a kayak…it's a single person sport…at what point?… if ever… am I suposto jump into this cold water and save him? Surely He is meant to… I did leave it and he did manage to escape but it still took him a while… He had difficulty finding the rip cord to release the skirt…

    However I still don't know …;-)

    • Laura permalink

      Lesley,
      Ha! Exactly–how else is he going to be albe to do kayaking if he can't handle the darn thing himself? I love that those concerns don't go away, even when one's child is actually an adult! Thanks for the great story …
      Laura

  4. Congrats on two potty trained! I hope to be there soon too! :)

    • Laura permalink

      I know, right? done and done … good luck to you!

  5. Oh man. Working on my little man. I hope he gets it soon.

  6. It is indeed a big step forward. Congrats! It is a fine balance, isn;t it? We need to protect our children, but not too much. I will never get it right, and that's probably part of being a mum!

  7. I COMPLETELY agree with you, Laura! Coming from a different culture, I was immediately struck by the overwhelming sense of entitlement of a lot of younger people here in the US. And it exists too among the super rich in the Philippines. I believe we can trace the roots of such tendencies in being overprotected and perpetually spoiled and rescued by parents. I know I am somehow guilty of this when I become overly paranoid but I have always appreciated the importance of teaching responsibility to my son as early as possible, instead of telling myself 'oh he's too young for this and that'. Sometimes it seems 'brutal' or 'not too compassionate' or 'overly demanding' and 'perfectionist' or 'strict'. But if he turns out to be a responsible, compassionate and socially conscious individual, instead of being spoiled, self-centered and insecure, then I would be the happiest parent. Those are the priceless rewards.

    • Laura permalink

      Joy — totally. This is exactly what I'm worried about when we move back to the U.S. My kids are going to lose their s— in Target! I say "no" a lot. They get to choose one $1 equivalent toy *sometimes* when we go to the store. Not every time. It drives me crazy when my kids then expect to get something new every. single. time.

      Yes, having a responsible, unspoiled kid = priceless!

      Warmly, Laura

      • Mrs. Bo permalink

        I don't think myself cruel for enjoying telling my son "no" often when he asks for something (train ride/trampoline/chocolate/pizza/tv) even if I have the money on me, because I secretly like that he is learning he doesn't always get what he asks for. I know in the long run it will help me when I don't have the money or time and we really can't- then he won't be shocked and flip his sh*t because he isn't used to hearing no.

        I may have trouble telling myself NO if/when I ever get back inside a Target though.v

  8. Mrs. Bo permalink

    Yes!! The "can-do" attitude of all of my Serbian friends telling me my son would be potty-trained before he turns 2 (in November) eventually made me believe it was possible, and the most exciting part about being diaper free now is the personal responsibility my son now exhibits when he tells me that he has to pee. I may never have tried/considered/believed if I was living in the US. My son is almost 20 months now. I am shocked and amazed, and so happy to be finished with diapers before a second baby (none yet) arrives.

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  11. Oh man. Working on my little man. I hope he gets it soon.

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