If I want to raise confident adults, I must accept opinionated children

Most of the things that I find frustrating and exhausting in parenting my children are the result of characteristics that will serve my children well in life.

If I want to raise confident adults, I must accept opinionated children

I recently came across a meme on Facebook that struck at the heart of the parenting challenge I face with my three kids.

I can't describe it any better, so I'll just show it to you:

This. 👆

So much this.

I, at times, can be that double-talking parent who wants creative, independent kids who also do exactly what I say exactly when I say it.

Yet I have learned this truth as well: Most of the things I find frustrating and exhausting in parenting my children are the result of characteristics that will serve my children well in life.

I do want my children to grow up to be assertive, independent and strong-willed.

Being assertive will help my children stand up for themselves, and others, even when it's more convenient to stay quiet.

Being independent will help my children to make moral, difficult choices, even when the crowd goes another way.

Being strong-willed will help my children to fight through challenges in life, even when the urge to give up becomes overpowering.

Raising assertive and independent kids doesn't mean children "run" our house. We know that children aren't fully capable of making decisions for themselves, and that they need boundaries set by loving parents and caregivers in order to blossom. Hitting, screaming, breaking house rules—they're all never okay.

But all of that grey area? It's complicated. I want my children to be independent and capable, but sometimes I just want them to do what I say—and to do it quickly.

I want them to wear the adorable outfits that I buy them—and not choose to wear mismatched clothes—backwards.

I want them to play in a organized way—and not create messes we all have to clean up later.

I want them to listen to what I say the first time—and not make me repeat myself over and over again.

I want them to put their pants and shoes on and meet me at the front door—so we won't be late for school. Again.

But all of those wants? They're all about me.

Because when they're choosing their own outfits, they're confidently showcasing their unique personalities.

And when they're building robots out of 4,000 strips of duct tape and a tube of glitter (😱), they're igniting their minds in ways that will help them invent the future.

And when they're ignoring me because they're engrossed in a book or a project or a daydream, they're creating worlds of their own that will serve them well in life.

And when they refuse to be ready on time, as frustrating as it is, they're learning (sometimes the hard way) the consequences of making mistakes when their teacher gently corrects them and reminds them of the importance of being on time.

So this is what I now know: If I want to raise assertive, independent and strong-willed adults, I have to get used to confident, opinionated children.

Parenting this way can be exhausting. It often feels like herding cats. To some, it might even look like chaos. I mean, sometimes it feels like chaos.

But I also know that chaos is a friend of creativity.

And that messiness is a sign of playfulness.

And that strong opinions are proof of budding confidence.

And that beneath that stubbornness is an indomitable determination.

So instead of trying to control my kids, our schedules and our home, I'm learning to nurture and stand alongside them. I'm learning to find ways to coach and guide, instead of yell, punish and confront. I'm learning to embrace their unique points of view and, in fact, to cultivate them. I'm trying to let go of pre-conceived notions of how my kids "should" look or act or be, and gaze on them with eyes of wonder for the unique creations that they are.

We might look a little strange at preschool drop off. (#backwardspants)

We might be a little bit louder than your average family.

We might do things a little differently.

We might look like we're doing it the hard way—and sometimes it is. I don't always want to gather consensus from a bunch of blueberry-stained pipsqueaks.

But I know that if I want my kids to grow up to have minds of their own as adults, I have to embrace the minds they have now.

If I want them to be courageous, moral adults, I have to let them wrestle with hard choices now.

If I want them to succeed as adults, I have to let them fail now.

If I want them to ever learn to show up on time, I have to let them experience the consequences of being late now.

None of this is a guarantee of "success," of course. And that's okay too. But I'm working hard to journey alongside my kids and the ever-changing society they're inheriting.

Look out world, here they come.

If we can ever get there on time.

You might also like:

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.


I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

Keep reading Show less

9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less