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You are here: Home > Baby > Parenting

The Worst Parenting Advice Ever

by Dianna Graveman | September 4, 2012
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What's the worst parenting advice you've ever received? How many ill-advised or ill-informed suggestions have you received from well-meaning friends, family members -- even from total strangers -- about how to raise your kids? I asked that question of several moms and dads, and some of the responses were startling -- others were hilarious. A few were heartbreaking.

Some parents told me of suggestions they'd received about discipline that could be categorized today as child abuse. Remember that someone's opinion is just that -- an opinion -- and many times, that advice is outdated. Your own instincts are most often best, regardless of what anyone else says. If in doubt, always consult your pediatrician.

Most "bad advice" that parents reported came from -- surprise! -- a mother-in-law. Historically, mothers-in-law have been blamed for all types of meddling, and apparently are still held accountable today.

"My mother-in-law stayed with us for a week, and within the first two hours of her being here, EVERYTHING I was doing was wrong," one new mother told me. "Holding her, feeding her, diapering her, bathing her. She would demand to hold her while I was doing stuff, even though the baby was perfectly happy in the baby carrier."

"When my mother-in-law asked what movies to buy my daughter," said another mom, "I told her none with magic. She freaked out, because apparently if kids don't watch magic movies, they will not have any imagination."
"My mother-in-law AND her mother constantly told me what I was doing wrong with my first," said Jessica.

'Holding her while she sleeps is going to spoil her,' they said. 'She'll be so dependent on you, you'll never get anything done.' They also didn't like me to nurse at their homes. 'Why can't you just give her formula? It'll keep her full longer,' they said."

Not everybody has problems with the mother-in-law, however. "My mother-in-law respects my space," says one mom, "my parenting styles, my methods, my diet, my everything. She's awesome."

Mothers-in-law aren't the only culprits. When Angie adopted a child, she decided to induce lactation so she could breastfeed. "Why would you want to breastfeed another woman's child?" her own mother asked. Angie had a hard time convincing her mom the child did not belong to another woman -- he was now hers.

And then there is the oftentimes bad advice of strangers:

- "If I didn't potty-train my then 2 1/2-year-old before the new baby was born," Donna says she was told years ago, "she would NEVER be potty-trained. I'm happy to report that at 24, she has been successfully using the bathroom on her own for quite awhile."

- Tammy said, "I was made to feel like a bad mother because I didn't put undershirts on the baby. Like an idiot, I ran out and bought them (though I still have no idea what their purpose is). He promptly broke out in heat rash."

- And then there is hospital staff: Mandy said she was told by the head of pediatrics in a large hospital that she should only breastfeed for five minutes every three hours the first few days until her milk came in, and then for only ten minutes after that.

Here are some more tidbits from advice-weary moms. Read at your own risk!

- "Don't hold him so much or he'll be a wimpy kid."
- "Let her cry; you're spoiling her."
- "She won't sleep unless you put rice cereal in her bottles."
- "Her car seat straps are too tight."
- "She'd be happier if you turned that car seat around already."
- "You're breastfeeding for how long?"
- "If you homeschool, he won't have any friends."
- "Newborns need water, not just breastmilk."
- "He's teething, so rub some whiskey on his gums."
- "Drinking beer will help with breastmilk production."
- "Wear earplugs at night so the baby doesn't wake you up."
- "You should definitely have your baby in the hospital so you can have an epidural, because you will NOT be able to handle the pain."
- "Don't let your baby stand before he is a year old; it's bad for his legs."
- "Add butter and sugar to your child's foods to help her gain weight. Oh, and give her cream to drink."
- "It's necessary to wake a newborn up (from a perfectly good nap) to get him on a schedule."

And finally, here's an ancient axiom that one mom considers the worst parenting advice ever -- and one that's been repeated for generations:

"Boys will be boys."


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