Pressure from parents

The problem of pressure from parents is one that many parents face. Do you have any advice for this adoptive parent who is struggling particularly with expectations on potty training?

My parents have been wonderful with our little boy, and he with them. He regularly speaks to them on the phone, chirping in with “Hello Grandpa, Hello Grandma” every now and again. It is wonderful.

Seeing Red

Unfortunately our son is so good with them, that I think they have relinquished the thought of him being adopted. This in many ways is a good thing, but it has led them to believe that he should be in a different place – most notably with potty training.

I have been defensive on this subject to the point of actually being offensive to my father, whose brain mouth filter has seemingly stopped. He is resolute in his opinion that the wee man should be potty trained, when he mentions it, my own red mist descends and I can no longer hold my tongue.

My problem is two-fold:

• Should I be making more effort with potty training, even though I am not sure the boy is ready?

• How do I communicate my thoughts on potty training without it turning into WWIII?

Any advice is appreciated, thanks.

4 thoughts on “Pressure from parents

  1. Kat

    Hi there
    You don’t say how long your son has been with you.
    Our girl had toileting problems for the first 20 or so months and the ‘advice’ I was given by my parents drove me potty (haha).
    The problem was that they were normalising everything to the nth degree.
    I realise now that they did that because they love our girl so much, the thought that she may have been affected by her past was too much for them to bear so it was safer and easier for them to normalise, which is why they just didn’t get her difficulties with the loo.
    What helped us was her gaining confidence and spending lots of time with them so she started to ‘act herself’ in front of them, rather than presenting beautifully (which she is unfortunately an expert at). Once they began to see her every day ‘quirks’ they began to realise that some of her behaviours weren’t typical and began to listen to me and mum in particular really started to get it and at last I felt believed.
    They read a good book called Related by Adoption (from the BAAF website I believe) and started to read a little about attachment, which helped.
    I don’t know how much of a help this has been. I don’t even know if it’s practical for you to see them often.
    But maybe it’s a help to know you’re not alone?
    Good luck xxx

  2. Suddenly Mummy

    Hi there,
    Thankfully my parents live very far away so we manage to keep most of the details of our daily lives away from comment and ‘advice’, but potty training seems to be something that everybody has an opinion on! My Mum couldn’t stop telling me how she trained me at 18 months and that was what everyone did 40 years ago, etc. etc. She started lots of sentences with, “You just . . . ” as if it was the easiest thing in the world and the only barrier to us achieving it was my lack of knowledge about what ‘you just’ do! In the end I went on the internet and did a search for ‘signs of toilet training readiness’ – there are lots of these available. I printed one off and showed it to my Mum, pointing out where I felt that my little one wasn’t ready yet – he had hardly any of the signs at the time. She did calm down a bit after that. Of course, this doesn’t help you with the underlying issue of your parents not fully coming to terms with what it means to parent an adopted child – probably Kat’s advice above is a good place to start with that. Sadly, I think that, as adoptive parents, there’s always that sense that other people don’t ‘get it’, however well-meaning they are, and however much they love the children.

  3. Helen

    Hi we’ve just started potty training out 2 1/2 yr old – he’s been with us approx 2 years and its been hard work. I would definitely make sure you feel that he and you are 100% ready for it as it can be stressful and if you are already dealing with different stresses and behavioural triggers already then it will just pile on top. It does sound like your parents are trying to normalise it for themselves which I get – my in-laws did the same as the truth can feel too much. We did the same as the above and asked them to read a couple of books and they saw some of the less ‘normal’ behaviour which highlighted why we do have to parent differently. They still don’t fully get it but I’ve got to the point now where I am able to ignore some of the less helpful comments. It’s tough especially when it’s your parents so I hope it resolves itself soon for you.

  4. Laura

    That must be hard for you to deal with! I would say trust your judgment as his parent on whether or not he is ready. We got an Usborne book from the library on toilet training your toddler. It had a very useful section on how to know if your child is ready. Perhaps you could get a similar book and show it to your parents? Is is possible to sit them down and ask them to respect your parenting and trust you to do things at a pace you and your son are ready for? As much as they would like to help, you are his parent and they need to respect that and give you autonomy. I hope you manage to resolve the situation, but please don’t rush into toilet training – it won’t be much fun for anyone!


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