Chances are you’ve heard all sorts of terrifying tales about child rearing. But before you freak out, we’re here to debunk some myths so you can sleep better at night. Yes, parenthood is messy and you will spend a lot of time dealing with other people’s crap (literal and figurative). Yes, it can be stressful. Yes, the Terrible Twos are a thing. Yes, you will be negotiating a lot over the years. But no, you will not be tired forever. And no, you are not messing up your kid if you let them eat chicken fingers every day for a year. Not all rumors about raising kids are true, and now is the time to learn the good, the bad, the ugly and the honest truth about parenting.
Brené Brown, author of New York Times bestseller Daring Greatly, wrote in a Huff Post piece, “Parenting is a shame and judgment minefield precisely because most of us are wading through uncertainty and self-doubt when it comes to raising our children.” You hear that? We are all totally clueless about raising our kids! With that in mind, here are 12 myths about raising children…spoiler alert: many of these might surprise you.
1. Having a baby ruins your sex life.
Making a baby may seem sexy in the movies, but it’s all a giant, stinking myth. In reality it’s anything but romantic. For many of us it’s scientific, methodical, and overly planned. And then when you are pregnant (and potentially feeling huge) the last thing you feel like doing is have sex. After you have the baby you are exhausted, you are healing and you feel disgusting. Those things do not add up to sexy bedroom adventures. But sit tight…your sex life won’t be ruined forever. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or your partner to rush back into the bedroom, and rest assured that while the rest of your life may change after having kids, your desire for intimacy will slowly return.
2. Women get a pregnancy glow when carrying a baby.
Oh how we wish this was true. Yes, some women look beautiful when they are pregnant—they glow from within and they look healthy and happy and completely radiant. But the rest of us look tired, uncomfortable, swollen and sweaty. It’s not easy being pregnant, and it’s not easy hiding the many side effects of carrying 30+ pounds of extra weight around. But while the idea of a pregnancy glow may be a myth, the fact that you will look and feel strong and beautiful is undeniable. You are bringing a human being into this world. No matter how your face may chance or your ankles may double in size, your partner won’t care. He’ll see you as the most amazing woman in the world.
3. You will instantly love your baby.
Movies, TV shows and exaggerated anecdotes from your great-grandmother lead us to believe that the second you give birth you instantly fall in love with your baby. False. It doesn’t happen in a second. In fact, that very first second after you give birth you are still in pain, your baby is covered in goop, you’re being stitched up and no one is feeling all that much love. When you really get a chance to hold your baby, you still might not feel an instant connection. And that’s OK. It might take a bit of time to bond, but be patient with the process and don’t be too hard on yourself. And if at any point you feel any anger or intense sadness towards your baby, tell someone. Many women experience postpartum depression, and there is no shame in admitting you need help.
4. Bribery is bad.
You are waiting in line to pay at the grocery store and your child starts screaming bloody murder, begging for candy. You can either a) discipline him and let him cry, b) leave without any groceries or c) bribe him with candy if he promises to be quiet and patient while you pay. In theory a) or b) are both good options, but in reality, you’ll pick option c) every time. And that is okay. Bribery isn’t nearly as bad as you were led to believe in all those parenting books.
5. The terrible 2s are terrible.
Sure, your toddler may throw a tantrum (or 20) here and there, but this idea that your child will be the most difficult between the ages of 2 and 3 is false. For some kids, this year is particularly trying. But for others it’s actually not that bad, and it’s harder to deal with your kids when they are older and have more opinions. Plus this toddler phase is really only tough if you’re unprepared.
6. You know your child better than anyone.
While you may know your child’s preferences, tendencies, personality, likes, dislikes and needs better than anyone, you are also blinded by love. Which means that you may be extremely well equipped to give your child the best possible care, but you are also biased and may be unable to see the bigger picture if your child needs extra help in one developmental area. It’s a good idea to make sure your child is exposed to others who may offer a different perspective such as a teacher or a daycare worker. This does not mean that you don’t know your child best; it just means that someone else might also have important insight to offer.
7. Sugar makes kids hyper.
False, false, totally false! Our parents lied to us! There is absolutely no scientific proof that giving your kids sugar causes them to be hyper. What causes the surge in energy isn’t so much the added sugar, but the drastic shift in blood-sugar levels, which can result from a tomato or a candy bar. If you want to make sure your child doesn’t turn into the Tasmanian devil after having a bowl of Fruit Loops, make sure to also provide foods high in fiber, which can balance out their blood sugar.
8. You’ll spoil your baby if you pick him up whenever he cries.
Everyone from your baby nurse to your mother-in-law suggested that if you constantly pick up a baby every time she cries, you will spoil her. Wrong! Truth be told, you cannot spoil a newborn baby. Newborns are completely helpless creatures and the only way they can communicate their needs are by crying. So if your baby cries, hold her; and if she calms down in your arms then clearly she needed to be held.
9. It’s harmful to argue in front of your kids.
If every time your kids catch you having a fight you worry that you’re sending them right to a therapist‘s office and screwing them up for life, rest assured: it is OK for your kids to witness an argument. But there are different types of fighting so you need to be careful how you handle the situation. A heated, loud, overly angry fight with bad language and intense emotions (we’ve all been there) can scare a small child. A calm, mature, blame-free discussion where you have differing opinions can actually be healthy for them to hear. Your kids will learn the value of conflict resolution and open communication.
10. Maternal instinct is always right.
In a perfect world a mother would always know what to do and what the right choice is for her baby. But in the real world of parenting, none of us know what we are doing. Repeat after us: I am not supposed to have all the answers. You’re human, and as a mother you may be blinded by emotions and anxiety, which could make it hard to instinctually know what to do. Definitely pay attention to your gut feelings, but also be open to advice from other trusted friends and family members.
11. Having a baby changes your interests.
Sure, when you have a baby your life changes drastically in almost every way. But one thing that may not change is who you are and what you are interested in. If you loved sports before you’ll still love sports. If you are a self-professed foodie or you love live music, those parts of your life won’t change. What will surely change are your priorities. You may still love the same pastimes and hobbies, but with limited free time and a tiny bundle of love to tend to, you might not be able to (or want to) dedicate your time to those hobbies. You don’t change as a person, but how you choose to spend your time is adjusted as you enter this new phase of your life.
12. Too much praise spoils your child.
There is really no way to praise your child too much. The issue isn’t how much praise you offer, but what the quality of that praise is. And when used correctly to show genuine appreciation and positive attention it can only enhance your child’s life, not spoil them in any way.