5 Big Fat Lies About Parenting

"It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentionally lying that there is so much falsehood in the world." - Samuel Johnson

Looking back over my 13 years of parenting so far, I see many common "truths" about parenthood that have proven to be more fiction than fact. Dishonesty sucks. As someone who prizes truth, especially regarding parenting, I thought I'd shed my own personal light on some of these beliefs.

There are certainly more (feel free to add your own), but these five ring particularly untrue for me. 

 1. Breastfeeding Shouldn't Hurt

 This one's mainly for the Mamas, but Papas should probably know this, too. Maybe breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but it does, at first. Sometimes like a mofo.

Yes, even when you're doing everything right.

My mom is a professional lactation consultant, and I nursed three babies into toddlerhood, so I speak from experience. With each baby, breastfeeding hurt for the first couple of weeks. The first time, I was surprised by the pain. The second time, I was like, "WTH, breasts! Don't you remember we've done this before?!" And the third time, I knew to expect a couple of weeks of fairly major discomfort. The latch was fine, but my nipples were on fire. Maybe my newborns had tiny mouths or I have oddly shaped nips or something, but there was a distinct "adjustment period" where nursing hurt like the dickens with each baby.

After a couple of weeks, everything toughened up and evened out and it was smooth sailing from there on out. But telling parents that breastfeeding shouldn't hurt is a bit dishonest. Yes, a bad latch can make it worse. Yes, an infection is a whole other ballgame. But the vast majority of moms I've talked to say breastfeeding hurts at first.

And it makes sense, really. If marathon runners get chafed nipples from their shirt rubbing against them, moms can certainly get tender nipples from a surprisingly strong little suction cup pumping at their breasts several hours a day.

The problem with saying it shouldn't hurt is that when it does, new moms think there's something wrong with them, like they have some defect that means they shouldn't breastfeed. It hurts for a while, then it doesn't. There are ways to mitigate the tenderness until then (Lansinoh was a life saver for me). But let's stop telling moms it shouldn't hurt when that's just not the reality for many.

 

2. Sleeping Through the Night

I think the entirety of "sleeping through the night" - as if it's a milestone like crawling or walking that, once achieved, is permanently established - is a big fat lie.

Just last night, our 9-year-old came into our room at 2 a.m. with a bad dream. Last week, it was our 4-year-old. Now that we're fully past the baby/toddler stage, we have long stretches of time where we get to sleep without interruption, but it's never a given.

And when they were babies? Around three months, they slept through the night just long enough for us to start telling people they were sleeping through the night. Then they started teething. Then they started crawling and walking and talking, and for some cosmic joke of a reason, felt the need to practice those things at ungodly hours of the morning.

Then the occasional bad dreams kicked in. Then our eldest went through a weird insomnia phase. As I said, we usually get a full night's sleep these days. But again, it's never a given.

And you know what the "experts" consider sleeping through the night? Five hours. Five hours is not "through the night." Five hours is a long nap.

I only watched one episode of "Desperate Housewives," but one scene still sticks in my mind. A harried mom gets pulled over by a cop, and in explaining herself to the officer, she says, "I haven't slept through the night in six years, ma'am."

Best excuse ever. :)

 

3. If You Ignore the Whining, It Will Stop

[a.k.a. "If you don't give in to whining, they won't do it." Or, my personal favorite, "Kids only whine because it works."]

Bull phooey.

Kids whine for about 147 reasons, only one of which is to get something you're not giving them. They whine because they're cold, because they're hungry, because they're tired, because they're frustrated, because they're four, because life is unfair, because they can't find something, because they want attention, because their cereal is soggy, and, perhaps - just perhaps - because they like the sound of their own whiny little voices.

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