At Adeline’s birthday party I gave her a tortilla chip to snack on while she walked around enjoying the moment. My dad saw and made this lovely comment: “You gave her a tortilla chip?? Now she’s discovered salt. You’ve created a monster!” I rolled my eyes and walked away.
But in truth, he was only saying what I already worry about constantly. Every time I give her food I wonder what kind of eating habits I’m creating; will she be a healthy eater or will she fall into the trap of eating the kind of crap most of us eat? And do I give her food to comfort her when she’s not really hungry? Am I setting her up for a lifetime of comfort eating?
And it’s not just food. There are so many times I wonder how what we do now will affect her in the future. Better get her in the pool quick or she’ll never be a good swimmer! Take her to music class so she develops a lifelong love of music! Encourage free play so she develops curiosity and creativity!
Sometimes it feels like everything about her personality, habits, likes and dislikes will be determined in her first couple of years. That’s a lot of pressure. And I look at my own life and it seems like maybe that was true. But then I think about it some more and I realize… probably not. Who I am and what I do continues to change every day and is influenced by everything that happens to me. And I also happen to believe that in the nature vs. nuture debate, nature goes a long way.
I know I’m not the only parent who feels this kind of pressure. And I certainly do think that some things really are crucial during this time of hyper-speed development. But maybe we all need to take a deep breath and give ourselves a break. That tortilla chip isn’t the end of the world.