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Structure In Parenting: Sometimes You Need It, Sometimes You Don't

By HERWriter
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Elizabeth Lyons, as a mother of five, is different from what she was as a mother of one. The first child gets hit with the most structure and control. By the time it's the fifth one's turn things have changed.

Some of this greater flexibility stems from sheer exhaustion on mom's part. But some is because there's been a gradual realization that some of that structure and control was important and alot of it wasn't.

(Transcribed from interview)

Parenting: How Important Is Structure?

Elizabeth Lyons:
When I had my daughter, who is my oldest, everything was by the book. Everything was by the book. The bottles don’t go in the microwave. The diaper bag was like a suitcase because I had to have everything with me.

Nap time was at 12:52 and not a minute later and if she woke up before 3:23, well, you know, the whole thing.

Now on my fifth kid it’s like, you look tired, do you want to take a nap? I go out. I don’t even have diapers with me. I have so much more learnt to go with the flow because the structure is about control.

It’s about having control and you only have so much control, and I don’t disagree that some structure is important. I have kids who need structure. I believe toddlers need structure. They have to know what’s coming next. They have to know what the day is going to look like.

I used to have to draw a map for one of my kids that showed him pictorially what the day was going to look like. First we have breakfast. Then we get in the car. And if we diverted from that schedule, I mean, it was like, “Mom, here’s the picture. We are not on that picture now. What’s going on?”

And he overcame that, but it’s about control, whether it’s for the mom or for the child. So you really can only have as, you have to recognize that for what it is and know that you are probably going to have to modify that for each individual kid and for each individual day.


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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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