Parents reveal the bad advice and tips they’ve been given — and promptly disregarded — by friends, family members and total strangers without kids.
Everyone is a parenting expert. That is, until you’ve been up for three nights in a row with a teething infant who will only fall asleep if you let her go to sleep with a bottle (a parenting textbook no-no). While many moms and dads invite the occasional sliver of unsolicited advice from family members, doctors, friends and even strangers at the park, particularly during those times when they feel stressed out and in over their heads, the key word here is “sliver.”
And while you needn’t always walk the walk to talk the talk — we all know a midnight snack of carrots is better for our health that a giant bowl of Cookie Crisp, even if we don’t follow through — advice can become particularly egregious when it’s a) bad and b) given by someone who has never had the, ahem, pleasure of living with a toddler 24/7.
We asked parents what was the worst advice they’ve ever been given by someone without kids — and the top 10 offenders are (drum roll):
“I was told that I should stop asking my kids to do things around the house because they would hate me for it later on in life. If asking them to pitch in and take responsibility for their belongings is a bad thing, then I guess you can call me a terrible mother.” — Denise F.
“When my son was 4, he was super clingy. Someone warned me that, if I didn’t push him away sometimes, and let him ‘deal with it,’ he’d never grow out of it. He’s now 19 and I wish he were more clingy!” — Amanda R.
“I had a childless friend hammer on me for not teaching [my daughter] about Santa Claus. Apparently, I’m going to psychologically stunt her for life, not to mention ruin the childhoods of completely unrelated children.” — Monica P.J.
“Someone told me, ‘If I had kids they would eat like adults and not all this kiddie food, because I’ll never give them any other options.’ We’re all a barrel of knowledge before smacked in the face with reality!” — Lara S.
“I was told by lots of people that it is ridiculous to be a parent and a friend and to not even try. Well, that was ridiculous advice. There’s a difference between being a bad friend to your children and letting them get away with everything and being a great friend who supports them, but isn’t afraid to tell them when they aren’t working up their potential.” — Susan L.
“Every year around Christmas, I insist that my children donate some of their own money to the charity of their choice. A friend swore to me that doing this would just make them resent charities altogether.” — Alana P.
“Being sarcastic with them will scar them and make them think I don’t care. Fast forward 10 years: One of my teenage daughter’s best qualities is her incredible sense of humor and way with words.” — Filomena R.
“Someone telling me, ‘It’s okay if your kid touches this. He couldn’t possibly break it.’ The crack, snap or crash follows momentarily afterwards.” — Luigi P.
“A nanny at the playground told me my 3-year-old daughter couldn’t climb on the playground equipment because that was dangerous. The fall would have been a little over a foot, from equipment that was designed for 3-year-olds to climb.” — Monica P.J.
“I was told that I should not vaccinate my children.” — Denise F.