The Wonder Years vs. Testy Toddlers: A Love-Hate Relationship

Metro Parent’s Editor-in-chief discusses why she feels that the toddler years are magical and how this developmental stage can also be tough on parents.

Around 10 years ago, I wrote an editor’s letter, just like this one, waxing on about how much I love what I called the “wonder years” – that time when a child is becoming a little person discovering the world with fresh eyes and a sense of true awe.

Babies are adorable, I wrote, but it’s not my favorite baby development stage. In my book, the toddler years trump babyhood by a mile.

Toddlers have strong likes and dislikes, are starting to express themselves and can find sheer joy in the simplest things, like a twig they pick up while taking a summer stroll.

Babies are sweet, and eventually giggle and smile – but not much else.

Who would guess that in the 13 years I’ve been editor of Metro Parent, this letter would be my most controversial.

I may have gotten a few notes of support for my stance, but the vast majority of readers who reached out told me I was nuts. And one reader in particular started a campaign to get me fired for being a “baby hater.” (Note: I don’t hate babies. I just prefer toddlers.)

So here I am, all of these years later, potentially stirring up a hornet’s nest of outrage again.

This time, however, those of you who are not on Team Toddler should be happy.

After all, the cover validates what so many irate readers felt I hadn’t fully acknowledged: Parenting a toddler can be frustrating and exhausting beyond belief. It can test your patience, your communication skills, your endurance and even your will to get up every morning.

I’m exaggerating, but not by much.

You think the coast is clear when they get out of the “terrible twos” but then you realize the struggle has just begun. You have a certified “threenager” on your hands – willful, emotional, erratic.

What do you do?

Well, you could take a page out of my book and focus on the silver lining sweetness of this stage, but let’s get real. Even a member of the toddler fan club like me knows that’s not enough.

You need some coping tools, some reasoning skills, a threenager survival guide. And lucky for you, that’s what you’ll find in this month’s issue of Metro Parent.


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