It seems like every time I hop on social media or read a book on parenting, I come across the latest fads for raising kids the “right” way. It’s no wonder that many parents feel like they are falling short despite giving parenthood their all each day—the right way to parent is constantly changing. We don’t know parenting truths from parenting myths. Some say we should have our kids on rigid schedules and others say we should allow our children to determine the course of their day. We’re supposed to feed them organic food, but we’re also supposed to avoid reinforcing diet culture.
This moving target causes us to question our parenting choices and when we finally think we’ve found the right answer, some “expert” tells us we are in fact wrong. I’m not here to tell you what the latest “truth” is, but I do think we can all agree that these 5 parenting myths are ready to be retired.
1. You need to keep everything “fair.”
When I was a kid, my parents would give my siblings and me money based on the grades on our report cards. One year, my parents handed me a $20 bill after reviewing mine. Immediately, my brother began complaining that he only earned $5. He started crying and eventually my mom handed him another $15 to match my $20.
I remember asking my mom why she gave him that money if he didn’t earn it. Her words are still with me: “I have to be fair, Samantha.” But just because we celebrate one of our kids for something doesn’t mean we must celebrate all of them in that moment. Parenting isn’t about being fair or equal. It’s about meeting our children’s individual needs.
2. It should be easy for you to love your kids.
This is one of the parenting myths that leads a lot of women to wonder if they’re cut out for motherhood. As moms, we absolutely love our children. There is no doubt about it. But sometimes it can feel like a struggle to show our love. Not because the love isn’t there, but because the connection isn’t. Don’t panic! This is totally normal. Some personalities simply mesh better than others.
You’re not a bad parent if you have to work harder at loving one kid. That’s the nature of relationships. Just like any other relationship, we need to work at finding common interests to help forge a deeper connection with each of our children.
You’re not a bad parent if you have to work harder at loving one kid. That’s the nature of relationships.
3. You must always be available to your kids.
Once my daughter reached toddlerhood, I stopped responding to her every beck and call. I didn’t neglect her, but I did allow myself to be busy when I needed to be busy. Instead of stopping whatever I was in the middle of doing, I simply let her know that I was unavailable to her right then. In other words, I let her be self-sufficient.
Buying into the parenting myth that we have to give our children our full attention immediately when they ask for it can create a sense of dependency in our kids. By resisting the temptation to focus solely on my daughter, I was able to accomplish things on my to-do list and she learned to be resourceful and use her imagination.
4. You have to give your kids all the experiences.
Our social media timelines are flooded with people having experiences—experiences we feel like we are missing out on. FOMO, “fear of missing out,” also happens in parenthood. Other parents take trips to Disney World or throw big birthday parties and we feel like we are depriving our kids of something by not doing the same. We think that if our child grows up having never seen snow, it means we failed.
Although it is tempting to try to keep up with what we see, we have to remember that experiences do not equal love. Different children grow up with different memories and the ones you give your kids are just as special as the next family’s.
5. Being a good parent means nothing but sacrifice.
Drink your coffee in peace. Do a workout. Take the work trip. As a mom, it’s important to meet our kids’ needs each day, but it is just as important to meet our own needs, too! I am at my best when I am on a regular workout schedule. I used to feel like I was neglecting my kids by taking time out of my day to work out because it meant I wasn’t focusing on them for an hour. It was so freeing to realize it’s actually the opposite!
Making sure my needs are met allows me to be the best mom I can be for my kids. On the days I make time for myself, I am more patient, less anxious, and have more energy. They also get to see their mom taking care of her mental and physical health, which sets a great example for them to do the same!
Have you ever tried to keep things “fair” between your kids, but it didn’t actually feel all that fair at all?