It is easy to get overwhelmed with parenting these days. There are societal pressures and ever-changing child-rearing theories that have created a lot of stress and anxiety for parents. It’s time to clear up some misguided notions about good and bad parenting so that parents can get back to feeling confident and being able to enjoy their kids again.
Here are the top myths surrounding the topic of parenting:
1. Parenting has to be stressful and chaotic.
Television shows, movies, and magazines seem to be driving this message home constantly. We see images of overwhelmed and exhausted parents everywhere! This seems to be the reality and so we just buy into it and become one of those busy, stressed parents ourselves.
This is a myth though. If certain tools are learned and used, and if we live our lives more slowly and with routine, our lives with family can be absolutely magical and peaceful.
2. The more you do the better parent you are.
Rushing around, taking your children to lessons and practices does not make you a great parent. Sorry. Giving your children love, one-on-one time and creating and participating in family traditions does.
Being a great parent also means allowing your child to have down-time and loads of time to play. It is here that your children learn, problem-solve and are able to be physically healthy.
3. You have to LOVE playing with your child.
What? You don’t like playing choo-choo train with your child? You don’t like pretending you are an alien on another planet or a fairy in another land?
Spending quality time with your child IS important but many, many parents have been made to feel guilty that they do not enjoy participating in child-like play.
Children and adults play very differently. Often children will dictate to parents HOW to play a game and when the parent tries, the child will often say, “No, this way”, making it even less enjoyable to play their game.
So, choose something you love to do and share it with your child. Children LOVE to see what their parents like doing and often want to participate.
4. You are a bad parent if you use the word “discipline” instead of “managing my child’s behaviors”.
The word discipline comes from the word disciple, which means “learner”. Our children are the learners in our family…along with us of course, as we are all constantly learning. It is our job to teach and guide our children through each stage of their lives, using our values and experience as our reference.
Getting caught up on a word just shifts the focus from what is important – teaching our kids how to have self-discipline, to be kind, and to feel good about themselves. Not all discipline is equal, I’ll agree, however, using the word “discipline” should never label you as a parent who doesn’t care about the well-being of your child.
5. The more talking and explaining you do, the more your child will do the right thing.
This is a myth because children, particularly from the ages of 2-7 are concrete learners and do not have an understanding of logic and reasoning. They need simple sentences that they can follow and concrete experiences that they can understand.
Any long lecture just goes in one ear and out the next. Simplicity is what works best, then adding more talking and explaining as they grow older and can actually comprehend what is being said.
6. Letting your child struggle or get upset is bad parenting.
Although it is not easy to watch our children struggle or be upset it is necessary at times and actually helps our children learn how to do new things and as a result feel good about themselves.
We know that the only way our children learn anything is to practice and practice, and that along with the practicing, there will be some frustration. Once they do master something they will feel great about themselves and THIS is the time to jump in and give them a high five, a hug and attention.
Taking this experience of practice and mastery away from our children robs them of having confidence in themselves, the ability to be resilient and the feeling that they are capable. So, the next time your child is struggling, just stand back, let them try and try again, and if after some time, 5-10 minutes, they are not able to succeed, offer them encouragement and a little bit of help if needed.
Given your experience as a parent or even as an observant child, what would you add to the list? I look forward to reading your thoughts!
Image: Cia de foto