Monday, 25 November 2013

Busting the Parenting Myths

Parenting myths are rife, aren't they?  Everyone you meet, from friend to foe, family to total stranger, has their tuppence worth to add to the advice-overkill already occupying your tiny brain.  And that is from virtually day one of your pregnancy, probably until your youngest child heads off to university, possibly even beyond.  Oh joy!

And somehow, deciding to practice the type of parenting we do, means that people feel even more entitled to pass comment and give their dubious advice.  We have had it all, from being told to ignore crying (from our 'manipulative' babies) and then to ignore 'bad' behaviour and/or tantrums from 'controlling' toddlers.  We have had many delightful people share with us the apparently indisputable 'facts' that we will suffocate our babies if we co-sleep with them; choke them if we baby led wean instead of feeding jars of commercial pureed rubbish; they will be dead by the age of 2 if we don't fill them full of Calpol; the works.

Amazingly our nearly four and two year old daughters are both happy, confident, outgoing individuals, eager to socialise with all and sundry, well in advance of their prescribed milestones, and demonstrating obvious intelligence, empathy and compassion for others.  What a shame we did it all so wrong!

Now those particular nuggets may not be relevant to your parenting, but I bet you have heard more than one myth in your time.  Have a look at these corkers and let me know which ones you've heard:

As parents, we may not all agree with the choices each other makes, but we are generally united in wanting the best for our children and making choices accordingly.  Unfortunately, well-meant but ill-considered or outdated advice can often interfere with that decision-making, especially when you feel as though you are going against the flow or challenging patterns and beliefs.  Going against how you were brought up, even in a minor way, can often be the most difficult, with family feeling threatened by your 'new-fangled' choices.

Finding support and/or impartial advice can be very difficult, with all the books and groups out there slotting into around three or four distinct categories.  But a new initiative which brings together 12 different organisations who are experienced in running parenting classes and offering support to families, may be the place to turn.

The CANparent initiative includes advice from organisations as diverse as Barnardo's and the NCT, but all are united in wanting to offer all parents and carers the opportunity to find out what really matters to them in parenting, and to share the advice that really works.  There are a range of different options to suit differing needs and lifestyles, from online support to local groups.

The CANparent parenting classes will cover all of the topics any parent/carer of a child from birth until the end of school year one will face, from why play is so important to how behaviour reflects a child's needs, and isn't just them 'being naughty'.  On a CANparent class you can get support with everyday challenges such as:

  • learning through play
  • parents working together as a team
  • communicating and staying calm
  • managing sleep issues
  • coping with difficult behaviour
  • rules and routines
  • understanding different stages of your child's development
  • what next?

Whilst recognising that every child and every family is different, the idea is that we all face the same challenges, and the CANparent approach of sharing ideas and learning together is there to support us all - whilst avoiding doling out more myths and cliches!

Just remember, unless you like it, let all the well-meaning advice go in one ear and out the other; seek out the support you need; take a deep breath and remember the well-worn parenting adage "this too shall pass"; and be sure to turn to reliable sources of advice and information, like CANparent.  You are not alone!

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