Potty-training, Evangelization and the Spiritual Journey

Clara Lake 2012

Is it summer again yet???

My daughter is almost 3. With baby #3 on the way we were really hoping we could have her potty-trained soon. We’ve already done two kids in diapers and it can be a bit of a burden on the monthly budget no matter which way you look at it. Plus, 3-year-old diapers are gross.

Problem number one, my daughter is SO stubborn (my husband likes to call it independent – wonder where she gets it?). There isn’t any enticing this child or motivating her if she doesn’t want to. Critique and question all you like, but she is nothing like any other child I’ve met. In fact, she has self-identified with a certain Scottish, red-headed Disney princess with a bow and arrow – no blonde damsels in distress for our little whirling dervish!

Problem number two, admittedly, I may have been a little too eager. A few months back I did an experiment with panties and the little potty. It ended abysmally and I think my meltdown over the soggy futon contributed to a potty training fear that lasted nearly 3 months.

We’ve continued our rhetoric on the matter, but to no success. It wasn’t until last week when her big brother started encouraging her that she even considered sitting down on the little potty again. Since then, she has been clean and dry for three days straight getting both #1 and #2 in the potty every time.

There very well may be times when she goes 3 times in 15 minutes, but we believe that eventually the novelty will wear off and she will hold it a bit longer. We have been re-enforcing this great behavior with trinkets at the end of each dry day and she couldn’t be more proud of herself. And every time, for fear of shaken baby syndrome, I have to resist the temptation to jump up and down wildly with my 8-month-pregnant belly!

How could this mundane, messy and slightly personal training process have anything to do with the spiritual journey? Here’s how:

  1. We are always eager to have those we love grow in their faith and in their love of God.
  2. Faith, like potty-training, is messy and not always an easy concept or practice to grasp.
  3. Sometimes we push too hard too soon. Sometimes the people in our lives can understand and comprehend, but aren’t ready to actually live the way the Gospel prescribes. Sometimes pushing too hard too soon can actually push people away from a life of faith.
  4. We have to keep encouraging and living a life of witness to our faith even when those around us aren’t ready to hear it.
  5. We should never underestimate the power of loving family and friendship. Sometimes it takes someone unusual. Next time you are at Mass look to your right and left. Are you called to be that someone unusual ?
  6. When someone does join the faith journey, they are at their most zealous and their most likely to participate. We must join them in this excitement and support them in their energy.
  7. “Getting something” is just as important at the beginning or re-energizing of a spiritual journey as “giving something.” As members of faith communities and parishes it is important that we reward those on the newly committed or re-committed journey with social and fellowship events, personal outreach, and words of welcome. It is in receiving that they feel valued and are that much more likely to give back and invest in the faith they are on fire for.
  8. We need to jump up and down and celebrate the great joys, feasts, and teachings of our faith at all stages of the spiritual journey. We are so blessed with a wide and deep tradition of spiritual living.

imagew2Amberly Boerschinger is wife, mother and spiritual teacher. She works part time for a local parish and also facilitates a wide variety of classes and events on Catholic women’s spirituality and the Catholic spiritual traditions through the Diocese of Green Bay, Department of New Evangelization. In her free time she scours the internet for cheap toys to reinforce the bathroom habits of her spunky middle child.


  1. great analogy, wise but funny is the best combination

  2. Hi, I am a mom to a 4 year old that is finally potty trained–she just did it recently…we got her a nice pink potty–plays music when she pees–she added stickers to it and gave her candy (for about a week or so–we still do occasionally to reinforce good behavior) and she’s done it! We took about a month of this and she’s finally trained…I guess she was finally ready to be independent….and yes we had 3 in “diapers/pull-ups” for a few months–but glad that I have just 2 in “diapers/pull-ups” now…

  3. Hi, my 3rd daugther is the stuborn tipe ,like your daughter, and after going trough a couple of months of potty trainig, we gave up,too we realize she was jealous of DD4. So bearing in mind i had enough on my plate, i decided, i wouldnt give it another try, until she really showed real sings that she was really prepared to accept no more diapers. And just the day before her 3rd birthday she stubornly shouted she wated no more diapers, and that was the end of it…. well it took a couple of weeks, but she was so convinced that she didnt want to use a diaper even during the night!, and that was the end of it for her. she hasnt wet her bed since and if she wants to go to the toilet at night time, she just gets up and comes to our bed, but she hardly does it. she is fine till morning! i still think is amazing she can do it so well.