Every week PJ Parenting writers weigh in on parenting issues large and small and you have the opportunity to share your insights in the comments section below. We’d love it if you’d join us for a cup of coffee and some great conversation!
What is the best (and worst) parenting advice you’ve ever received?
Megan Fox: The best parenting advice was whoever (and I have no memory of who it was because I haven’t slept in nine years) said “no one knows better than you what your kids need.” That has proven over and over again to be a true statement. It is especially important to trust yourself when you go up against those who are supposed to wield superior knowledge over you, like doctors and teachers. No one loves or has my children’s best interest at heart more than their parents. There have been many times when advice I was given by authority figures did not feel right and I trusted my instincts. I have always been glad I did.
The worst advice, sadly, was given to me by my sister. She’s the most patient person on earth and she never let her baby cry. I was having problems with my 9-month old daughter not sleeping well in my bed and also refusing to go down in her crib. My sister told me The Baby Whisperer method was the answer to all my problems. This method would drive anyone insane, but particularly someone sleep-deprived and unshowered, as I was. The method involved picking up the screaming child and soothing her until she stopped and then returning her to the crib. If she began to scream again (and mine always did) you were to pick her back up and repeat…all night! Then there was the endless patting on the back and sitting watch in her room until she became comfortable in her crib. I tried this. I lasted three nights. She never stopped crying. I figured if I didn’t get some sleep soon I was going to end up running away from home, so I shut the door and went to bed with a pillow over my head. She slept without a problem from then on. I have learned since that all babies are different and all stages in my life are different, too. Now on number three, I don’t need sleep anymore. I’m just used to functioning on cat naps. My one year old still doesn’t sleep through the night and that’s okay with me. I get up and down with him as needed and bring him to my bed or whatever he wants. I’ve been thoroughly trained to give up sleep. Since I made peace with that, I’m a lot happier.
Brianna Sharbaugh: Best advice: Let your husband help, even if he does it differently than you. Applying this has been the best parenting decision I have made.
Worst advice: Is it ok to say it came from multiple nurses at the hospital? (Maybe if I don’t say which hospital, it won’t be traced to me in case I go back to have one there in the future?!?) Like Megan, it was about sleeping, “Let sleeping babies lie.” Here’s the thing: I can name four reasons you WOULD wake a sleeping baby without even trying:
1. If breastfeeding, establishing a milk supply is crucial. They definitely woke me up in the hospital when it was time to nurse so I could establish a good supply from the beginning. This has to be done.
2. Engorgement. Ouch.
3. For the 12 million things motherhood forced me to give up or rearrange, there are still some things on the calendar that won’t wait for a baby who decided to sleep in 2 hours later today. Examples: Doctor appointments, church (especially when your husband is a pastor and you only have one car), getting to daycare so Mommy can get to work on time…you get the picture.
4. Babies do not need to sleep all day, they should sleep at night. I worked hard to teach my baby not to sleep all day so he wouldn’t stay up all night.
Jamie Wilson: For me, it was all advice I went against: Don’t breastfeed. Don’t co-sleep because you’ll kill the baby. Just let the baby cry at night — it’ll be good for him/her.
I’m a very crunchy-con mother. I breastfed all my babies as long as I could (up to around a year, because teeth and because feeding a walking toddler seems gross to me), I co-slept, I listened to their preferences in foods and clothing and toys as much as was feasible. I even tried cloth diapers instead of disposables for my first daughter, though I had to give that up because it was seriously too much work for me. (At the time, the autistic son was pretty . . . hard to handle.) I developed a stay-home career, and my little girls are being homeschooled.
My mom thinks I’m nuts for all of this, but my reward so far has been kids who are well-adjusted, smart, and funny, and who have never been in any serious trouble, who have been a delight rather than a heartache. Do I have complaints about them? Of course, and I acknowledge that some of these may well be my own fault. But for the most part, I am very, very glad I listened to myself instead of the world.
Leslie Loftis: The Best advice came from my college mentor and mother of two: Aim for the kind of person you want them to be at 35, not what you want for them tomorrow.
The worst advice was also the most common advice: Just do what works for you and your family. In practice, it is the reverse of the best advice. It encourages short term thinking. What is right is what works right now. Sometimes necessity must have her way, but usually doing what works right now means avoiding little problems and letting them fester until they become big problems that are much harder to solve.
Tricia Lott Williford: “Always” or “never.” These words tend to appear in the worst pieces of parenting advice I’ve received.
There are a very sacred few things parents must “always” or “never” do, and the people who’ve given me advice with such superlatives are extremists who weren’t living my life. Kids are individuals, and each day is different. I’ve got to be up for what’s next, and it’s almost “always” different and “never” quite the same.
Julie Prince: Gosh, this is a hard one because I have heard some really terrible advice over the years and also some very wise advice.
Looking back I think one of the worst pieces of advice I received was not to worry about children all that much because “kids are resilient.” I didn’t believe that then, and I still don’t. Kids don’t bounce back as easily as some think. Things that bother them can really leave a lasting impression. Talking to your kids and keeping lines of communication available to them are crucial. Also, trust your instincts and intuition about your kids. If you get a weird feeling something is wrong, it probably is.
Some of the best advice I received (from my mum) was don’t ever talk badly about anyone’s child and their behavior because you never know when your child may make a mistake or go through a bad period. Karma works in funny ways. :)
Jamie Wilson: Julie said, “If you get a weird feeling something is wrong, it probably is.”
That is so, so true. But women today have been taught to not trust their instincts — that women’s intuition is chauvinistic propaganda designed to be a sort of consolation prize for us supposedly not being logical. In fact, women should trust their intuition, and even more importantly, they should pay attention to the nurturing instinct. In their attempt to turn women into good little worker bees that Move Us Forward, socialist-progressives have done everything to eliminate that mothering nurturing part of us, and when you look at kids today it shows. It’s that nurturing part of us, however, that is critical to good outcomes in child rearing, that and all the little intuitive processing bits that seem more like magic than rationality.
Kristina Ribali: The best advice came from our family doctor. He told me to trust my instincts, and that God gave me these children for a reason and no one knows my children like I do. This has served me and my children well on countless occasions. I’ve often gone against “conventional wisdom” and my children have thrived.
I also remember getting advice from a lady at church when my son was a few months old. He didn’t sleep much, so neither did I. She told me to nap when he napped and the house and chores would wait. This was a lifesaver. Before kids, my house looked like a museum — everything was perfect and in its place. I learned to let go of that once I realized I needed sleep to survive and my child couldn’t care less about how clean it all was.
The worst advice I ever got was to let my son sleep with us to keep him from crying. This may work for some, but I didn’t get a wink of sleep when he came to bed with us. I was so paranoid that I’d crush him or push him off the bed that I couldn’t sleep at all. I went weeks without more than an hour of sleep at a time. I finally let him cry it out. It was brutal for two nights, but he slept for 8+ hours a night after that — completely worth it.
Michael Hamilton: Probably the best parenting advice I’ve received is this: You will never be a better dad than you are a husband. So if you love your kids, love your wife. (Here is what I mean.) Second to that would be, just love ’em—including showing and telling them you love them, spending all the time you can with them, and teaching them truth. The worst parenting advice I’ve gotten was to back out of extended family traditions so that you can do whatever you want. I get that, but what I want is for my kids to value traditions—the ones we start and many of those we inherited.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott isn’t an official member of the Roundtable, but last week in Atlanta he shared his best parenting advice with PJ Parenting:
Let us know what you think in the comments section below!
See previous PJ Parenting Roundtables: