Becoming a parent is like putting on a big magnetic suit; but instead of attracting metal, you attract unwanted advice. Family members, friends, old ladies in the street, everyone wants to spout their words of wisdom over you, like vomiting Alphabetti Spaghetti into your face.
More often than not, despite it being unwanted, you'll presume that what they're telling you is fact. After all, they're parents themselves, so they must know what they're talking about, right?
Wrong. A lot of the bits of advice you're given during the first few years of being a parent are about as useful as actually having a magnetic suit. Here are just a few of the biggest parenting myths around today.
You have to get your child into a routine
Apparently, if what you hear is correct, your child needs to be firmly in a routine and sleeping through the night even before your partner has had the chance to turn up his nose whilst cutting the cord.
But no-one really asks why? Is sleep that important to you that your top priority as a new parent is getting your child to sleep through the night? Do they have to be in bed by a certain time? Because guess what: your new baby doesn't give a flying flip about your spare time, or your sanity, and why should they? They're still trying to form their own brains, for crying out loud. They don't care a monkeys about logic or reason.
Now's the time for you to bond with your baby, hold them as much as you can, rock them to sleep at night and feed at every available opportunity. The weeks go by too quickly as it is without you wishing them away by getting your baby to go to sleep.
Becoming a parent means your life is over
That's it now you've had kids. Your hopes and dreams evaporate into a puff of talcum powder as you sprinkle it over your baby's nethers like you're icing a muffin. No longer are you Ben, or Karen, or Claire, or Dave, you're so-and-so's mum or dad. Your identity has gone, and with it any chance of getting your life back.
Balderdash and poppycock. Your identity hasn't gone, it's just changed; it's been added to, not taken away from. And, whilst a young baby will take up most of your time and energy, as they grow older and become more independent you'll find yourself with time on your hands again – time which you can spend focussing on those ambitions which you haven't abandoned, just put on hold temporarily. And, when you achieve them, you'll have a son or daughter right there to be proud of you.
Your kids always come first
Put simply, if you don't put your children first and foremost in absolutely everything that you do, then you're a terrible parent. After all, who would be selfish enough to put their own needs above the needs of their child?
Answer: EVERYONE. At least, every parent should put themselves first occasionally. Having children can put a big strain on your relationship, because with you both working hard to raise your kids you find that you don't have much time for each other. If the only time you communicate with each other is to have vicious spats in the middle of the night, then something is wrong.
So, when you can, dedicate a bit of time to your other half; after all, you're in this together. There's a reason why airlines tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before your kids in the event of an emergency. If you're struggling to be happy, then your children will struggle to be happy too.
Sugar makes your kids hyperactive
This is a common misconception. Sugar will make your kids fat, and it will give them cavities. But there are no scientific studies which have proven that there is a link between sugar intake and hyperactivity.
That doesn't mean you can't use it as an excuse to scoff the sweets in your child's party bag, though.
Parenting comes naturally
This is complete bobbins. Whilst parenting might partly be down to instinct, it's a wild assumption to say that parenting comes naturally to every mum or dad.
Being a parent is a series of trial and error, of experiments to see what your child reacts positively too, and it is rarely easy. It's something to be worked at, it is often difficult, and there will be times when you feel like you're not cut out to be a parent. Just keep on going, and do your best. There is no secret formula to being a pretty good parent, and it doesn't come naturally to everyone. Just do your best, and remember that you're human.
More on Parentdish: 10 ways children may change your life
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