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A Decade of Lessons in Parenting


Lesson #10: You Do the Best You Can with the Raw Materials You Have

My two boys, born of the same womb into the same house and raised by the same parents, could not be more different. One is naturally sunny and high-spirited, the other not so much. If you ask one, "Hey, want to try something new?" he'll beam and chirp, "Yeah! That sounds great!" The other will hyperventilate and burst into tears. One is an ace sleeper, the last of his peers to require a three-hour nap every day. The other woke up every hour for the first 18 months of his life and has never napped for more than 40 minutes.

I can only thank my lucky stars that my kids', er, challenging traits are distributed between them. Still, their innate personality differences did teach me one last lesson: Kids come hardwired with certain tendencies, and we, as parents, can only do our best to adapt to their idiosyncrasies. So don't beat yourself up if your kid is shy, or aggressive, or slow to toilet train. Keep your chin up, stick to your guns, and remember—no matter what anyone implies—it's not your fault.

However, if you happen to get a supremely easygoing kid, pat yourself on the back and take full credit. Hey, everyone blamed me when my kids were difficult, so I have no trouble crediting my excellent parenting on those rare occasions when they're perfect.