We are way beyond the baby stage at our house, and thank God. Karis graduated preschool this week, and as I sat there sobbing about my last baby growing up (don’t judge me), I thought about all the advice we used to get about parenting babies and how much that has tapered off. I think part of that is because most parents of older children realize that none of us know what we are doing. We’re no longer the helpless parents of infants looking for a flow-chart. We realize by now that no handbook can solve all of our problems. But man, when kids are little … that unsolicited advice is frequent. Because if parents are good at one thing, it’s telling other parents what to do. And a lot of the baby parenting advice I received? It sucked.
Here’s some of the worst …
1. “Bite them back.”
I know the horror of having the preschool biter. There’s nothing quite as mortifying as being pulled aside at pick-up to be told that your kid broke the skin of another classmate. But I just can’t see myself digging my teeth into a child’s little arm to teach her a lesson about how much biting hurts. I’m not sure God meant that “eye for an eye” thing to apply to the parent/toddler relationship.
2. “Sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Any time my babies fell asleep, all I could think about was “Finally, now I can get some stuff DONE.” As if I could fall asleep on cue anyway, ready to hit the pillow the moment I heard a few baby snores. Also, I never understood how this advice related to people with more than one child.
3. “Never let a baby cry.”
Really? Never?!? Babies cry. Sometimes for no reason. You do all you can and sometimes you strap them in their bouncy seat and take a really long bathroom break.
4. “If you pick up your baby too much, you will be spoiling her. You’ll regret that later.”
This is the opposite advice from the previous one, and it’s dumb, too. Babies and kids like to be held. And hugged. Parents like it, too. It’s kind of the crux of the whole parenting system. I refuse to regret showing love to my child, so keep your hardhearted advice to yourself, Frigid Robot Mother.
5. “Rest now. It’ll get done sometime.”
Well, maybe it’ll get done if you stop giving me advice ,and I don’t know, come over and fold my laundry. Seems like someone’s going to have to do it, and the only volunteers right now are … ME.
6. “Just rub a little whiskey on those sore, teething gums.”
Whatever. Aren’t frozen teething toys a better option than fermented grain mash anyway? This isn’t Lonesome Dove. And maybe I’m saving the whiskey for myself.
7. “Always praise your child.”
Look, there are some things my kids do well. I praise them when they excel at those things. I praise them for being thoughtful, for doing their best, and for having great attitudes. But I will not tell them they are the best soccer players on the team when clearly they aren’t always sure which goal they’re supposed to kick toward. It’s normal not to be perfect. People are good at different things, which means it’s OK for a kid to learn he can’t be the best at everything.
8.”When your kid is around, never be on a screen.”
I get that it’s easy to be distracted, and I work hard to limit my own screen time (and theirs). But on occasion, my kids are going to see me checking my email or texting someone or making a phone call. They will also, in their lifetime, see me unloading the dishwasher and putting laundry away. That’s because mom has stuff to do … and sometimes that stuff involves a screen. As long as it’s balanced, I’m not going to shame myself for it.
Anyway, that’s some of the bad parenting advice I’ve heard. How about you?