6 Parenting rules to ignore

Nov 29, 2010 at 1:38 p.m. ET

From the moment your child is conceived, it seems that everyone has parenting advice to offer. Following are six parenting rules you don't have to follow.

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Check out these six pieces of bad advice you should ignore!

Number 1it's quality, not quantity, that matters when spending time with your kids

Quality time is a myth, says Dannah Gresh, founder of Secret Keeper Girl. "You cannot replace quantity. Since parent-child connectedness is the number one risk reducer for all the things parents fear -- early sexual debut, substance abuse, violence, and more -- you simply have to be there. A lot."

Find more time with family

Number 2Let your baby cry it out

Babies cry to communicate, not manipulate, writes Dr. William Sears, author of The Fussy Baby Book. Crying is a baby's unique language to let you know she needs food or comfort. "The newborn who cries is saying, 'I need something; something is not right here. Please make it right.'"

By continuously leaving the baby to "cry it out," you're teaching her that she can't communicate with you. She'll lose trust in the signal value of her cry, and possibly lose trust in the responsiveness of her caregivers. Likewise, you are going against your basic biology, desensitizing yourself to your baby's signals and your instinctive responses. It's a lose-lose situation.

More on the cry-it-out debate

Number 3Your child will let you know when it's time to be potty trained

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Heidi Mylo was told by a neighbor to not push her daughter into potty training. "Her child stayed in diapers until he was 5 years old," says Mylo. "Can you imagine how many disposable diapers that is?" Mylo showed her daughter videos and left little toilets around the house. Her girl was fully potty trained at 14 months.

Tips for your most challenging potty training issues

Number 4Be your child's best friend

"Ick. Major error," says Ellen Pober Rittberg, author of 35 Things Your Teen Won't Tell You So I Will. When you become your child's friend, "you undercut your authority and create a warped family world where you are on the same level socially with the child. Why would you want to do that? A parent should aim to be a responsible, reliable authority figure and keep the right distance to be that good role model."

Are you too friendly with your kid?

Number 5Read your child's diary

This bad advice ruined a mother's relationship with her teenage daughter, says hypnotherapist Gale Glassner Twersky. The mother was advised to "tell her daughter that the she had found and read her diary. She told her daughter that it was her parental responsibility to know what problems the child was getting herself into and therefore was justified. The child never got over the betrayal. Nothing could penetrate the wall she had placed around her feelings regarding the mother."

How much privacy should your kids have?

Number 6Talk to your kids

Don't talk to your kids, says Dr. Joseph Shrand, instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and medical director of CASTLE (Clean and Sober Teens Living Empowered). "Instead of talking to your kids, talk with them. To is unidirectional, which may tune a kid out. With is a dialogue between people. When a kid really feels heard, all sorts of conversations and insights can evolve. This does not mean your kid will get what they want, but not getting what they want is different than believing their needs are not acknowledged. This approach can be applied to a myriad of situations, from curfews to that new pair of jeans."

Talk with your teens about alcohol

Read on for good parenting advice!

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Two people, two parenting styles
How to make parenting fun

Weigh in: What's the WORST parenting advice you've ever received? Tell us in the comments section below!