Parents are under so much pressure. There are so many rules and truths about parenting accompanied by endless do’s and don’ts. Here are some harmful parenting myths that have been circulated too long and make parents feel needlessly inadequate.
Myth: You can spoil a baby by holding them too much
This is one of the most common parenting myths, especially with infants. A positive, gentle touch is one of the best ways to help your baby regulate and grow. Nurturing responsive parenting has been shown to provide positive outcomes for children.
For newborns, there’s no such thing as too much snuggle time; they need it because they just spent the last nine months being cosily held in utero.
A related myth is that being too loving to your children will make them co-dependent. You can’t be too loving to a child. A suitable attachment and bond are essential to positive parenting.
Myth: You’re brilliant!
One of the shared parenting myths, especially among younger parents, relates to positive reinforcement. Younger parents praise their children for everything and constantly tell them they are intelligent and brilliant. While positive reinforcement is healthy and even encouraged, too much is harmful.
One study found that students who are praised in a way that reinforces their innate intelligence and not how much effort they put into a task displayed less interest in persisting in challenging tasks. They performed worse overall than students who were praised for their effort. Children praised for their innate intelligence viewed it as a fixed trait, while those praised for their effort believed the tasks to be subject to improvement and were more willing to learn and perform tasks better. The second group had a growth mindset that the first group lacked. By all means, praise your children, but make sure it’s for honestly challenging themselves.
Myth: Hello kids, goodbye sex life
Another common parenting myth is that your sex life goes out the window when kids enter the picture. Yes, you may experience a drop in your sex drive after labour, but this is a short-term occurrence. You’ll have more responsibilities and more demands on your time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to be passionate and intimate with your partner. Just prioritize the relationship and make time.
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Myth: It comes naturally, and you either have it or not
One of the most common parenting myths is it comes naturally, and you’re either good at it or not. This is not true; parenting is complex and does not come naturally to most people. Just like all other things, parenting requires us to develop a set of skills over time.
Allow yourself to learn as you go. You will make mistakes but what’s important is that you learn from them and keep improving at them. Focus on active learning and not just winging it. A myth is that parenting is easy if you love your children, which is false. Another myth is that your instincts are always reliable regarding your children.
Myth: Every bad behaviour requires substantial consequences
One of the most common parenting myths related to discipline is that children must be punished every time they misbehave. Even the most accessible kids are prone to bad behaviour sometimes, and punishing every infraction is misguided. Set ground rules and talk to your child when they break the rules instead of always resorting to punishment.
A related myth is that children should always be rewarded for good behaviour. Rewarding them for everything done well keeps them from internalizing the value of what they’re working towards. It keeps them from doing something because of its inherent value alone.
Myth: No bad parents
Another one of the most harmful parenting myths is that there are no bad parents. While there may not be any perfect parents, bad parents exist. There are selfish and narcissistic people, and becoming parents does not magically transform them into decent human beings. This belief that there are no terrible parents negates and refutes the real lived experiences of people who have suffered under terrible parents. Abuse is real, and we do ourselves no favours by burying our heads in the sand.
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