Monday, January 3, 2011

Do you remember your mother potty training you?

Holidays are a great excuse to over-indulge food-wise. Having great cooks in the family (my mother) makes it that much easier to indulge. I considered making a list of all the foods I ate between December 25 and January 1, but I was too scared. But now, although it was totally worth it, all the cookies, chocolates, cakes, pies, roasts, vegetable medleys, and alcohol have knocked my gut out of balance.

As I sit here at my desk fondly recalling the lovely foods I digested (or have yet to digest) over the holidays while simultaneously nursing a bloated belly, I'm reading sections of Christaine Northrup, M.D.’s book Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Understanding the Crucial Link between Mothers, Daughters, and Health. Probably because of the current state of my belly, I found the chapter 8, “Mouth and Gut Wisdom,” to be especially interesting. Northrup discusses potty training and how this can affect the mind-body connection of your digestive system later in life.

Northrup writes, “The ability to use the toilet is a major step towards autonomy and independence. If toilet training is negotiated well, a daughter develops a sense of power and control around her own body and a deep trust in her ability to allow her body to do what it knows how to do naturally” (218). This makes potty training seem like the most important step in a young girl’s life.

My mom says I was potty trained at 11 months – younger than average. I would like to think this means that I am “more intelligent or superior to those who take longer,” but apparently this isn’t so, at least not according to Northrup (224). (Well, I may be more intelligent and superior, but my toilet training is not an indication of this, ha ha.)

Once Upon a Potty -- GirlThe only thing I do remember about potty training is a book called Once Upon a Potty. On one of the pages there’s a picture of poop in a little plastic toilet. According to my mom, I loved that picture. Don’t ask me why.

I’ll take it as a good sign that potty training was relatively uneventful for me because “eventful” potty training for many women causes great emotional and physical problems down the road. Northrup writes, “If there are power struggles or undue fears around toilet training, a child may also develop a personality style referred to as anal and withholding. She will grow up to have difficulty relaxing and letting go psychologically in ways that appear to have nothing to do with her sphincters” (222). Not to mention that chronic and debilitating problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, gas and bloating, and diarrhea can also be caused by power struggles during potty training (224).

Northrup’s advice to women as they potty trained daughters is this: “If you have a daughter, leave her BMs alone. And leave your child alone as she is moving her bowels. Don’t hover. Teach her how to wipe herself properly […], help her if she “messes up,” and then leave her alone” (220).

Questions for other Mother/Daughters: Do you have any specific memories of being potty trained by your mother? What was the experience like potty training your own daughter? Do you have any advice for other mothers potty training their daughters?

1 comment:

Anne's mom said...

When I was a wee child, my mother was anxious to get rid of the diapers...they WERE cloth after all and there was NO diaper service back then! A vivid memory of mine was at nap time. I was still in the crib, and my mother wanted me to use the toilet before my nap. I remember shaking my head...no, I don't have to go to the bathroom. BAM...as soon as she left the room I had to go. It seemed forever for her to come to my rescue, but when she did...ouch...her words were pretty scolding. What a memory. Does that make me anal or stuck up(get it?haha)?
Annie trained herself at 11 months old. I guess she knew her brother was using the "big boys potty" and she wanted to also. It was a breeze. I don't remember hovering over her. These things happen when they happen. My go-to book was Dr. Spock and I am sure I must have gotten some sort of inspiration from him or my own instincts.
My advice about any parenting issue is to respect the individual child. Hovering would make anyone stress out, no matter what.