Is potty training grounds for divorce?

Potty training my 26-month-old son has dredged up some major differences between me and my husband, which I thought was water under the bridge by now. 

We have always been opposites in nature: he is neat and orderly and likes a very clean house; I gravitate more toward messiness, as sensitive artistes are known to favor. I like to refer to it as “controlled chaos” because I know where all my stuff is, although to the naked eye it appears as though a hurricane has hit my home office (and closet, and bathroom, for that matter).

It exasperates my husband that I can live in such a messy environment seemingly unaffected. He, on the other hand, hyperventilates at the slightest hint of disorder. 

We – and when I say, “we” I really mean “I” – have begun potty training my son. Some say that I am late to the game, while others say I’m early. Evidence shows boys take longer to train and that the average age when completely trained is 3 years, 2 months. 

Many experts have a list of questions you should ask yourself to determine whether your child is ready. Is your child asking you to take wet diapers off or to use the toilet? Does your child stay dry for two hours or more? Can you tell when your child needs a bowel movement or to urinate? Are they interested in wearing pull-ups or underwear? 

The answer in my case is no, no, and double no. But that has not stopped me trying. 

Not only could my son care less when I try to place him on the potty to hang out and tap away on his little iPad, but he also wants mommy to get him dressed and undressed still (even though at his nursery school he does this and can pull his pants down when he wants to); he dramatically throws the potty books I try to read him at night onto the floor; he is talking but has not uttered “potty-friendly” words as of yet, and although he is getting more control in the elimination department – and can be dry for hours – he would gladly continue to play forever outside in a dirty diaper if I let him.

Luckily he hasn’t figured out the “pee dance” yet. 

Two friends visited me this week for a vacation. One is a physician and a mother of two little ones herself, and she gave me some great tips. She told me to let him roam free naked in the house so he can do his business wherever he fancies – she says after the first or second time, he may not want to do it again.  

She also suggested putting the potty outside in the hallway or living room when we are sitting there. My other friend, who does not have kids, learned a great deal about poop – unfortunate circumstances for her. She, like my husband, believes the potty has no place in the living room.  

Upon hearing these suggestions, my husband (who was standing in the kitchen and staring at the potty I had just placed along the wall), nearly gagged on his coffee. We have a couple of Persian rugs in the main living space, which his eye immediately went to. I began to read his thoughts. His first was how best to clean and disinfect the floors after the inevitable occurs.

I’m sure his second thought was a mixture of dread and impending doom about the whole process, and how the training process is a huge inconvenience to his lifestyle.  

Probably the last thought running through his mind was how it may all accelerate my son’s training and lead to never having to change his diaper AGAIN! Sadly, I’ve always been the one in the family to see the big picture. 

He is so turned off by the idea of potty training he even asked me if he could go away for a week while I take on the task (“a golf trip, perhaps?). And he won’t even allow my son into the bathroom to see how all those man parts work.

As any parent knows, kids love to follow you into the bathroom. In fact, they get sudden desperate urges to need you for something – anything – as soon as you shut that door. Can someone explain this weird phenomenon to me? 

The potty I bought is of the talking and singing variety. When you “flush” it, a little ditty comes on followed by my taped voice that says (very enthusiastically, I might add): “Great job. You are such a big boy. Yaaaaayyyyy for poop and pee!”  

However, because the tiny speaker is hidden in the base, my voice ends up sounding like it is coming from the depths of the potty itself. My husband is sure this is going to give our son a mother complex and that he will end up in therapy for years to come with a general anxiety surrounding anything involving a toilet. 

I’m not going to offer any tips today on potty training because I have no idea what I’m doing yet. I know this is going to take some time and get messy – this is not going to be some three-day or even three-week exercise like some friends claim is all that it took them. It doesn’t help that their kids were potty trained before they were 2 years old. I say they are all liars! 

My goals are less lofty, I must admit. It may all be a pipe dream (pardon the plumbing pun), but I really hope my toddler is potty trained by the summer.

Who knows, maybe by then I’ll actually have some good “expert” tips to offer other parents in the same predicament. 

In the meantime, I’m setting aside some extra money in case intensive therapy is required for the men in my life.  


Research shows potty training boys takes longer than girls.

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