9 Popular Parenting Myths Debunked

9 Popular Parenting Myths Debunked

Parenting is stressful enough without worrying about unnecessary things!

By Wendy Robinson

I was an exhausted and frazzled new mom (are there any other kind?) making my first trip to the grocery store with the baby when he suddenly started wailing. I quickly slipped him out of his car seat and cradled him in my arms, which instantly soothed him. I was feeling pretty good about myself when an older lady walked by, looked at me, sighed, and said, “You know you are going to spoil that baby if you don’t let him fuss!” At the time, I didn’t have nearly enough of my wits about me to respond to that long-standing parenting myth, but now that I actually sleep through the nights again, I’ve assembled a list of parenting myths that you absolutely DON’T need to worry about anymore.

1. Myth: You can spoil a baby.

Truth: According to researchers at the University of Minnesota Center for Early Education and Development, you can’t spoil infants by showing them too much love and by promptly responding to their cries. In fact, parents who respond quickly and consistently to crying in the first six to eight months of life are rewarded with kids who cry less and are more independent when they are toddlers.

2. Myth: Only children are spoiled or lacking in social skills.

Truth: Good news for the “one and done” crowd: Research shows that teenagers who grow up without siblings are just as socially successful as those who grow up with siblings. Social skills like sharing and taking turns are also learned at school and through extracurricular activities, even without the fun of siblings to fight with for toys.

3. Myth: Kids need constant monitoring, because the world is a more dangerous place than it used to be.

Truth: When I was a kid, I regularly rode my bike, sans helmet, down the side of a busy highway to get to the library a mile away. If I wasn’t at the library, I’d ride to the secret fort the neighborhood kids built out behind an empty field and hang out alone or with whomever showed up until dinnertime. These days, I’m afraid to let my kids have the same kind of freedom -- not because the world is more dangerous, but because I think other parents think the world is more dangerous and would judge me or report me.

The truth is that child victimization rates are the lowest they have ever been. Your child is more than three times as likely to be struck by lightning as to be abducted by a stranger. Now you can take a deep breath, help them put on a bike helmet (we are smarter about some things now), and give your kid some freedom to go explore the wide world out there.

4. Myth: No swimming for 30 minutes after a meal.

Truth: Dive in! Swimming after eating does not cause severe stomach pain that increases the risk of drowning. What is actually dangerous: when kids don’t learn to swim, so give your child a snack and take him to lessons!

More from P&G everyday: 9 Craziest Kid Phases Only a Mom Would Tolerate

5. Myth: Good parents always put their kids first.

Truth: Deciding to have a child is one of the biggest decisions most couples will make, and parenting by nature involves sacrifices of time, money, and freedom. That being said, good parents who want to make sure they have good marriages must sometimes put their own needs first. Bottom line: Whether it is a date night or you’re letting the kids zone out to TV for an hour, make sure you take time to connect with your partner.


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6. Myth: Listening to classical music makes your kid smarter.

Truth: According to various research studies cited in Scientific American, classical music, while lovely, does not make your child a genius. So if your tastes are more Top 40 than Mozart, don’t sweat it!

7. Myth: Good parents never bribe their kids.

Truth: Bribing shouldn’t be your regular go-to move, but the occasional bribe isn’t a sign of a terrible parent. In fact, one recently published study found that bribery can actually help your child build healthier eating habits. So, if it takes a quarter to get your kid to try broccoli, that might be money well spent!

8. Myth: If you are relaxed, your kids will be, too!

Truth: It can be all too easy for parents with laidback kids who sleep through the night and never had colic to think that their own breezy approach to parenting made their child an “easy” baby. The truth, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics? Babies will display unique personality traits within the first few weeks of life, and children from the same parents can have very different personalities. The good news is that if your kid is extra sensitive, that is just who she is -- not a reflection of you.

9. Myth: Fancy toys are crucial to good brain development.

Truth: Any parent who has ever seen a kid ditch the fair-trade, handmade, and pricey wood toy or the expensive electronic toy for a cardboard box knows the truth behind this myth. PLAY -- in general -- is important to development, not the cost of the toy.

What other parenting myths have you heard?

Wendy Robinson is a writer, working mom, and graduate student. Someday she'd like to sleep in again. She also blogs at www.athleticmonkey.com.

Image ©iStock.com/molka

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