Nothing can really prepare you for being a mother. However, given the amount of advice available to people with kids these days, you might be inclined to think otherwise. There are millions of answers for women floating around the internet, and everyone from your grandmother to your next door neighbor seems to have a few words of parenting wisdom they want to pass down. Even people without kids will try and give you advice on how to be a good mother.
But just because help is available doesn’t mean that you should accept it. As the saying goes, not all advice is good advice – and that’s especially true when it comes to raising children. For example, here are the five worst pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever received.
1) Don’t Swaddle Your Newborn. This one came from my grandmother, who was convinced that swaddling a newborn could cause its arms to be deformed. “Babies need to stretch their muscles to grow properly,” she said.
Yeah, turns out that’s not the case. Swaddling has actually been practiced for centuries. If the practice was dangerous, we would have heard about it by now. What swaddling really does is keeps your newborn warm and comfortable. Swaddling can actually help calm a crying baby down because it recreates the feeling of being in the womb. Maybe it can be dangerous if you don’t do it properly, but if I recall correctly most hospitals give new mothers a pretty thorough lesson in swaddling before they’re sent home.
2) Don’t Get Your Kids Vaccinated! This is a relatively new paranoia stirred up by Jenny McCarthy and a few other celebrities with far too much time on their hands. Unfortunately, it’s spread to my husband’s secretary. At a recent office function she insisted that we not get our upcoming child vaccinated because it could cause them to be autistic.
There are several problems with this theory. The first is that the doctor who first came up with the link between vaccinations and autism was found to have fudged a bunch of his numbers. The report has been debunked as fraudulent. Second, even if it were true, putting your child at risk of autism is still safer than putting them at risk of everything else. Young children have weak immune systems and the world is a very dirty place. It’s much safer and far more responsible to have your children vaccinated.
3) Did Your Child Bite or Hit Another Child? Then Bite or Hit Them Back! I’ve read these words of wisdom in a few different places online. I get what people who believe this are trying to say – that biting your kid back will teach them not to do it again – but I can’t really grasp the logic behind it.
Using violence as a means to prevent violence is a flawed strategy. There are other ways to discipline your child than to further engrain the merits of physical violence into their young mind.
4) Breastfeeding is the Best Birth Control! My neighbor insists that when you breastfeed, your body naturally shuts down your menstrual cycle and therefore you can’t get pregnant – while you’re breastfeeding at least.
Yeah, there’s no science behind this. You can definitely still get pregnant while breastfeeding. My cousin, for example, got pregnant just six months after delivering her first child. That was not a fun time. Granted, both kids are wonderful and she’s happy to have them, but at the time it wasn’t the most pleasant surprise in the universe.
5) Let Your Toddler Keep Using the Pacifier, It’s Fine. No, it is not fine. Pacifiers are great up until your child’s baby teeth have all grown in. At that point, they become incredibly destructive. While sucking on a pacifier may help reduce the risk of SIDS and get your kid to behave in public, it will also totally screw up their teeth and gums. Unless you want to invest in a ton of dental work, it’s best to wean your kids off the pacifier before they get too old.
So that’s some of the worst parenting advice I’ve ever received. Now I want to know what you guys think. What terrible advice have your friends and loved ones given you that you’ve been lucky to avoid?