Becoming a parent is a radical experience, almost overnight people go from being non-parents to parents and undergo a seismic identity shift. Not only have they seen their selves merged into another self in the creation of their children – and hopefully into an enduring relationship – but they have also seen their sense of self revised by the appearance of offspring in the taking on of a new role/identity – that of parent.
There is nothing quite as unnerving as embarking on parenthood for the first time, so any parents who share their wealth of knowledge and experience to help you on your way is very welcome. But do be careful of that perfect parent sharing unrealistic pearls of wisdom, who are we kidding, they are telling you downright lies.
Here are a few common lies told about parenthood you should be weary of…
1. ‘Birth is natural, it’s not painful’
Yes it’s natural, yes giving birth to your baby is a beautiful thing, but it DOES hurt!
If you end up having to take pain medication or have a cesarian section, you have not failed at childbirth.
2. ‘Every mother is able to breastfeed if she wants to’
There are exceptions, and with the best intentions, some mothers may not always receive the help they need when they need it and feel they are not able to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is complicated. You will still bond with your baby regardless of the method of feeding you and your baby end up utilising.
3. ‘My baby has slept through the night since she/he was three weeks old’
Or something similar. This is one of the most common lies parents tell. Even if a baby sleeps through one night, it is virtually impossible sleeping through will be consistent at an early age. Of course, every baby is different so if your baby has slept through the night from three weeks old, chances are you are the exception not the rule!
Sleep patterns also change throughout your child’s development. Sleep regression is common. It can be frustrating when your child is not sleeping through the night after previously having a great sleep routine. And as a tired parent, it can be a nightmare knowing how to handle it.
Sleep regression is a natural stage for some children. It’s no reflection on your parenting at all. Second, there are many other parents going through exactly the same sleepless nights.
Just bear in mind that your child may hit these stages earlier, later or not at all.
4 to 6 months
From 4 months you tiny bundle starts to step sleeping like a newborn and develops more adult sleeping patterns. Unfortunately, this can lead to shorter naps and babies that don’t sleep through the night anymore.
If you think about what is happening in your little one’s world at this time it is not surprising they may be unsettled. During these months your baby is starting to become mobile, soaking in all the language around them and having huge brain development. It is also the time when some children will start to cut teeth which can lead to crying all night and fussing.
We find this sleep regression stage can be one of the toughest. We are sure all parents hear “NO” all day from toddlers learning all about independence and self-awareness so it is logical that they carry this through to the evening which can lead to screams at bed time and refusing to nap. It is also an age when some children become anxious when they are not near their parents. Separation anxiety at bedtime is a natural reflection of this stage.
The 2-year sleep regression can be a little tricky to define. The reason why some children won’t sleep can be obvious, maybe a lot is changing in their world? Potty training, moving from a crib to a bed and for a lot of toddlers, they could become a big brother or sister. It is also the age when children try to cut out naps.
Then add that a lot of toddlers can start to become fearful of night time. Monsters under the bed and scary shadows. They all lead to interpreted sleep patterns which can exhaust parents.
4. ‘My little one has been potty trained since nine months’
Don’t get frustrated if things are taking a long time. Potty training can take roughly a year, according to a study from the Medical College of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee. "The two big surprises are that toilet-teaching isn't fast and it isn't smooth," Dr. O'Brien says. "Several areas of development need to line up first. The child has to communicate well, be aware of his bodily feelings, and understand how much time he needs to get there.”
5. ‘Ignore the temper tantrum and it will stop’
Huh? Really? Nice idea, the reality is not always the case and what if the temper tantrum kicks off in the supermarket? A little hard to ignore.
Temper tantrums range from whining and crying to screaming, kicking, hitting, and breath holding. They're equally common in boys and girls and usually happen between the ages of 1 to 3.
Some kids may have tantrums often, and others have them rarely. Tantrums are a normal part of child development. They're how young children show that they're upset or frustrated.
Tantrums may happen when kids are tired, hungry, or uncomfortable. They can have a meltdown because they can't get something (like a toy or a parent) to do what they want. Learning to deal with frustration is a skill that children gain over time.
Tantrums are common during the second year of life, when language skills are starting to develop. Because toddlers can't yet say what they want, feel, or need, a frustrating experience may cause a tantrum. As language skills improve, tantrums tend to decrease.
Toddlers want independence and control over their environment — more than they can actually handle. This can lead to power struggles as a child thinks "I can do it myself" or "I want it, give it to me." When kids discover that they can't do it and can't have everything they want, they may have a tantrum.
Keep your cool when responding to a tantrum. Don't complicate the problem with your own frustration or anger. Remind yourself that your job is helping your child learn to calm down. So you need to be calm too.
Tantrums should be handled differently depending on why your child is upset. Sometimes, you may need to provide comfort. If your child is tired or hungry, it's time for a nap or a snack. Other times, its best to ignore an outburst or distract your child with a new activity.
If a tantrum is happening to get attention from parents, one of the best ways to reduce this behaviour is to ignore it. If a tantrum happens after your child is refused something, stay calm and don't give a lot of explanations for why your child can't have what he wants. Move on to another activity with your child.
If a tantrum happens after your child is told to do something she does not want to do, it's best to ignore the tantrum. But be sure that you follow through on having your child complete the task after she is calm.
6. ‘Childhood goes by in a flash’
Probably quite true when your children are grown up. Remembering your child’s first day in the kindergarten would seem like just days ago on the day they graduate from college. Many parents experience this, so it would be wise to cherish what little time you have with your children before they grow up and leave the house! But, it may not the reality when you have young children, and are on day three of being cooped up in the house. It can feel like a very long day. This is probably more true with the current shelter in place due to Covid19. Your days are limited in movement and boredom can set in for everyone in the family. Remember self-care is important.