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How Parenting is Like Horseback Riding


The first time I rode a horse as an adult was with my husband in Prospect Park, shortly after we met. My horse was jumpy, and I was worried I was going to get thrown. My husband, a native Texan and super-calm guy, told me to hold firmly on the reins and take control; otherwise the horse would sense my fear and be nervous. Sure enough, I did what he said, and instantly the horse and I relaxed. As new parents, we’re fearful and under-confident. It takes a while for us to not be scared, and simply get to know our babies. Over time we build confidence and come to really know our children; what makes them laugh or feel secure. Of course when we have newborns, we respond to them round the clock and there’s a lot of guess-work about what they need because they can’t talk. There is no routine or structure for weeks or months, (or years), and it’s fine for some families indefinitely. But at some point, we can decide to take charge and hold the reins. Our own fears may prevent us from holding firmly, but even if they protest, our kids want us to be in charge, because it makes them feel secure. My kids (4 and 6) still cry when they’re tired or hungry or don’t get what they want, but they know we’re holding the reins firmly at bedtime, and when we don’t let them have candy for dinner. The question is, at what point do you take the reins?


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