We all know there is a lot of parenting advice out there. A lot. Good advice. Bad advice. But what of that special category of parenting advice? The advice that sounds sensible, but is actually nonsense?
Here are my top ten pieces of advice that appear perfectly reasonable at first glance, but are nonsense. Nonsense, I tell you.
1. Don’t make threats about consequences you aren’t willing to follow through on.
Yes, this sounds very sensible. However, it rather assumes that your children care about the threat, remember the threat, and were even listening to you in the first place. They weren’t. Make as many empty threats as you like, it really doesn’t matter. (Presumably, people whose kids actually listen to them don’t even need to make threats in the first place.)
2. They will eat it if you don’t give them an alternative. They won’t starve themselves.
They will, actually. They will starve themselves.
3. If they hurt themselves, they’ll learn not to do it again.
They won’t, actually.
4. If they don’t want to go to sleep, just put them in bed and leave them to it. They can’t scream forever.
Well, maybe not. But they can scream long enough for the police to be notified.
5. Let them make their own clothing decisions and express who they are.
Who they are is someone willing to die of hypothermia. Specifically, a pyjama-clad gruffa-fairy, who is willing to die of hypothermia.
6. Make sure they’re really tired, they’ll sleep better.
No one has ever had as much energy or been as awake as a tired toddler. Tigger has less energy than an over-tired child.
7. They don’t need to be eating snacks between meals.
They do if you want to achieve anything with any day ever. In the battle between childhood obesity and being able to do the shopping without a tantrum, raisins win every time.
8. They’ll be perfectly safe. They’re not stupid. They’re not going to fling themselves down the stairs/out of the window/over that cliff.
They have no survival instinct. None. Zero.
9. I’m sure they don’t need a bib/apron/hazmat suit – that will wash right out anyway.
It won’t. Don’t even need to know what it is. It won’t wash out.
10. It’s okay, they won’t even remember that thing you definitely don’t want to do/buy/feed them was even mentioned.*
They will remember it until the end of time. This is not like empty threats. Children hear empty promises. Like mini Liam Neesons, when a child hears an empty promise, they will look for you, they will find you, and they will make you give them the damn ice cream.