Before I became a parent — and even while I was pregnant — I would see a strong-willed toddler in mid-tantrum and think, “That’s not going to be my child.”

There was definitely a judge-y tone in that voice in my head.

And now I have a strong-willed toddler … and while I am still firm about discipline and aim to be conscientious in manners-of-dealing that I perceive might spoil my own child, my best friend said it best:

“[My first son] had me thinking I was doing something. Thought I knew a thing or two [about parenting until my second son came along]. Our kids’ demeanors have a lot less to do with us than we realize.”

Given that variable, we do our best to let our toddler express her disagreement without changing the immediate (and our intended) outcome. Since she still doesn’t have the words to articulate her frustration, we hope that allowing Sydney to have her feelings — especially when something doesn’t go her way — is enabling her to learn valuable lessons in dealing with disappointment. As she grows and develops, we hope that the lessons will evolve into identification of emotional tools for choosing how she would prefer to react to the unpleasantries of life. They will be inevitable and many, after all … and our response is one of the few things we always get to choose.

We won’t know what effects many of our chosen parenting philosophies will have on Sydney until much later, of course. There are so many well-intentioned and heavily researched methods out there, but babies are as unique from each other as adults are, so we just try to implement what seems to work for our family and hope for the best.

In the meantime, if you’ve been blessed with an “easy baby,” save your self-pats on the back and give the credit to whom it’s truly due: your easy baby. In lieu of criticizing the parents of strong-willed children for doing it wrong, there are plenty of other things for which we all can graciously take credit (e.g., healthy eating habits, clean and safe home environments, access to educational opportunities).

At a minimum, my own brother and I are proof of the infamous parenting equation: #SameDNA + #Same DisciplinaryMethods = #CompletelyDifferentOutcomes

(I was the strong-willed one.)

Photo series posted on Instagram on July 7, 2017: “At the table with @ariannahuff, discussing the importance of naptime, and then @danielshea tells Sydney it’s time for hers.” – @kjnyc

Originally posted on Facebook on November 3, 2017, and at on February 12, 2018.