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Parenting Advice You Should Ignore

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I ignored some of my own parenting advice last weekend. Here’s why. My husband and son were playing video games in the family room. As I watched from the kitchen, I saw my son snuggled up against my husband as they laughed and strategized on how to beat the bad guys. I was witnessing a father and son bonding moment, so I threw the parental advice about video game limits out the window and let my son keep playing.

Solid parenting advice should be followed most of the time, but there are exceptions to just about every rule. The key is knowing when to ignore the parenting advice and that’s where we hope we can help. Here are 5 bits of parenting advice you should ignore… once in a while.

Get your children to bed early.

“Mom!” my daughter would say sadly as we were leaving a party or gathering so that we could make it home for bedtime. “We’re always the first ones to leave!” Yes, I was/am a stickler for getting enough rest. A rested child (and a rested mom, for that matter) is a happy, functioning child.

But, I became too rigid in my bedtime rules. Of course, I want my children to get the required amount of sleep, but staying up late once in a while is just plain fun! So let your kids stay up late here and there. As long as they don’t have school the next day or an early morning commitment, the occasional late night to watch a movie, read, or hang out with family and friends can be emotionally restorative. Wondering how much sleep your children need most nights? Here’s the scoop.

Don’t let your children sleep in your bed.

This one is easy to keep at my house. My husband has a sleep issue that causes nightmares, so we can’t put our children at risk in case he acts out in one of his bad dreams. But, boy, there are times I wanted my little children snuggled up with us!

The experts will tell you that you shouldn’t make a habit of letting your children sleep with you. It’s more difficult feeling close to your husband, the extra person will cause extra movement making everyone sleep less fitfully, and it’s not always safe for babies to be in the path of sleeping adults. Still, once in a while, it’s really okay. When your child has had a tough day or is having a bad night, sleeping with you can help her feel peaceful and secure. It’s also a fun treat to cuddle up in bed on a weekend night.

Don’t let your children talk back.

I grew up in a Yes, sir. No, sir. environment. You did not talk back, even if all you wanted to do was share your opinion. Well, as long as your children are respectful, it’s to their benefit to learn to engage with you. How else will we teach them the communication skills they need to dialogue with others?

This doesn’t mean they can badger, argue without end, or show disrespect. But studies show that children who are allowed to talk back are more successful in life because they know how to interact with others.

Make your children do their chores.

If there were ever a perfect scenario to show your children mercy, chores fit the bill. Picture this: “Andrew, I’ll take out the garbage cans for you tonight, I know you have a lot of homework.” Or, “Isabella, you were so nice to help your brother fix his breakfast this morning. I’ll make your bed for you.”

Let your children learn from failing.

Yes, I was the poster mom for the value of learning from your mistakes. To the crying child in the car who left her homework on the kitchen table: “You must learn responsibility! I am not going back home to get it for you!” That was me. No exceptions. Here’s where I messed up on that: I did not always take into consideration the overall emotional state of my child or her overall track record. If your child is on the mark for most things, when they do mess up, it is okay to bail them out. And think about what they have going on in their life. They may need your extra support to make it through.

For older children, you really have to weigh the consequences of not helping. My sister and her husband let their son have complete autonomy in filling out his college applications. It was only when he was not accepted for early admission that they realized that the consequences for some failures are too big to use as teachable moments.

So do you agree with the above? What parental advice rules do you bend?


What are three rules children should always follow?

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