Reply turned post: Horrible parenting advice

I wrote this response after reading this article in Children’s Health Magazine (hush, it was in the Mother’s Room at work where I pump) called “10 Lies Every Parent Should Tell.” Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit that I was probably a little over the top…taking myself too seriously…yeah, yeah, that’s sort of just who I am sometimes. But, seriously! I couldn’t believe a magazine for parents would print such garbage. I tried to post my response in the article’s comment section on the website, but it was glitchy. So I sent it in an email to their contact person. And I’ll probably try again later to post it.

Also, I totally get that I am a parent to a nine-month-old baby who doesn’t understand the words that are coming out of my mouth. My parenting philosophies are based on my formal education and all of the reading and research I’ve done since getting pregnant. I am no expert. But the author of this magazine either has never learned a thing about parenting or has really messed up kids, I think.

Anyway, here it is:

Are you kidding me? I can’t quite tell if this is a joke or not. I want to believe that it is, but I’m worried that it isn’t. This has to be the worst parenting advice I’ve ever read! I’m new to this magazine, but this has taken its credibility down to a zero for me.

Here’s a little rewrite for you…10 opportunities to actually parent your children.

1. “We need to have a talk about your behavior.” Follow through on set consequences. If your child doesn’t take you seriously, the Tooth Fairy isn’t going to be there to pick up your slack. What the heck are you going to do when your child no longer believes in Santa and you’ve been using him as a disciplinary crutch?
2. “You need to take care of your belongings by putting them in their proper places.” Teach your children to actually value and respect their material possessions. (Seriously, you’re advocating SCARING children into keeping their rooms clean?)
3. “Mommy and Daddy don’t always agree about things, and we are sorry that things have gotten out of hand.” Don’t scream at your partner, even when the kids aren’t home. It’s disrespectful and unproductive. I agree that arguing in front of children can be harmful, but trying to play conflict off as something it’s not isn’t helpful.
4. “Mommy and Daddy were making love.” Be honest with your children about sex. And maybe they will be honest with you down the road. There are age-appropriate ways to talk about sex, if you just do your homework.
5. “Reading books is an exciting way to learn new things and to experience the world.” I’m all for promoting reading, but this is a pretty unrealistic expectation to be promoting, don’t you think? There are other ways to teach lifelong learning to children, including doing some reading of your own. Chances are, your kid isn’t going to be a millionaire.
6. “Yes, those things can happen here, but they are extremely unlikely to.” What happens when something does go wrong, and your child feels totally betrayed by the one person who he should be able to count on? Shouldn’t we be teaching our kids how to negotiate the world around them, rather than lying to them about it?
7. “I’m not sure, let’s look it up.” Face it, there’s no way to know everything, and pretending to is a good way to look like an idiot once your kids figure you out. How about teaching our children to seek the truth and to research life’s questions? (The important thing is that your children believe it…?! Really?)
8. “There are a lot of reasons that man is homeless, but I don’t know for sure why.”/”Eating vegetables is important because our bodies need the nutrients to grow and stay healthy.” Homelessness is a serious issue, and it’s absurd to link homelessness with a lack of childhood vegetable consumption. That lie doesn’t teach anything about cause and effect. It’s just a lie that uses the plight of another person to get out of teaching your kids about healthy eating.
9. “Parents get scared sometimes, too, but this is what we’re going to do about this situation.” Fear is a natural human emotion. Denying to our children that we experience the same emotions teaches them that some emotions aren’t okay to have.
10. “This is an adult beverage, and it would hurt your little body.” This one wasn’t so bad, but calling alcohol juice seems a little shady to me.

Children have so many opportunities to be lied to by other people–shouldn’t they be able to count on their parents to tell them the truth? Since when did producing a positive outcome outweigh honesty?

Please tell me that this is a joke, and that I’ve simply overreacted.

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