Warning: Deciding to have a family will open a floodgate of parenting myths from everyone. Birth Announcements seem to say, “Rubes having children, show no mercy.” Here are my top 20 myths about parenting:
- Rub whiskey on a teething child’s gums.
No! A drop of whiskey can cause salivation, irritability, problems with sleep, and worse. Instead, let them chew on a frozen (clean) damp washcloth.
- The best way to potty train is to let them go commando.
Seriously?! No. The potential mess and bacteria should be a deterrent for those of us not born in a barn. Try a mini-potty, a copy of Everybody Poops, and a lot of patience. Most children will not go to college un-trained.
- You will always “like” your children best.
Anyone who said this has not experienced the mortification of a public meltdown from a middle schooler—or was it a 2-year-old? Same thing, only taller. You should, however, still love them.
- The 5-second rule.
Eating food dropped for 5 seconds or less is NOT okay. According to microbiologist Professor Donald W. Schaffner (Rutgers University), “No matter how fast you pick up food that falls on the floor, you will pick up bacteria with it.” he says. “If I were to drop a piece of watermelon on my relatively clean kitchen floor, I’m telling you, man: it’s going in the compost.”
- Good parenting is consistent, and one size fits all.
True and false. Rules, routines and consequences should be consistent as often as possible. However, our discipline and delivery techniques will be specific to the individual. One size does not fit all.
- Parents never disagree.
Oh, you’re going to disagree, but if it is about the children, this is best done in private. Children are smart. They may exploit a weakness when parents are divided.
- Spare the rod, spoil the child.
Spanking should be the last discipline option. Distraction, redirection, discussion, active listening, amends, and even manual labor are better choices.
- Every effort deserves a reward.
False. This sets up unrealistic expectations and encourages low achievement.
- Families are a democracy.
Also false. Families are more like a benevolent dictatorship. So get comfortable with putting your parent pants on. Children need to believe you are wiser and stronger.
- Your child’s poor schoolwork reflects poor parenting.
Usually, no. They need you to be available for questions, but let them do the work. These are necessary life skills.
- Bedtimes: they’ll go to bed when they’re tired.
Bad idea. Adhering to a bedtime routine maintains your child’s health and provides parents with much deserved alone time.
- Use adult words, “Don’t dumb it down.”
False, expanding vocabulary is good, just make sure the explanations are developmentally appropriate.
- Saying “no” will stifle a child’s creativity.
False. Boundaries create a sense of security, and creativity thrives there. Teach them to have them and to respect them.
- A child held too much will be spoiled.
Really false! Secure attachment is a result of responsive caregiving. This is the foundation for healthy neural and social-emotional development.
- Breastfed babies are healthier babies.
False. Not everyone can or will breastfeed for any number of reasons. Research shows that baby formula-fed babies are just as healthy.
- If your toddler bites, bite him back.
No! This was popular 50 years ago. We know better now. Biting your child will hurt them AND reinforce the behavior.
- It’s dangerous to swim within one hour after a meal.
False. According to Dr. Messick of Duke Primary Care, “The body does supply extra blood to aid in digestion, but not enough blood to keep your arm and leg muscles from properly functioning.” Cramps could happen, but they are unrelated.
- “Kids will be kids.”
Of course, they will, but it is our job to teach them what we (and others) expect in order for them to be successful.
- Children always come first.
Yes and no. When we become parents, we do not cease to be a couple or an individual. It is just as important to make time for yourself and your partner, too.
- Never let cats sleep in the crib, they will suck the air out of your infant.
Huh?!!? I can’t even.…