Today’s moms have plenty of opportunities to compare themselves to other seemingly perfect moms, both in person and on social media. Unfortunately, such comparisons leave many moms positive they are the only moms who feed their kids non-nutritious meals or ever yell at their kids. But before you give yourself the (Worst) Mom of the Year award, read these parenting myths. They should remind you that you are doing better than you may think.
Nicole Harmon, a marriage and family therapist at Amber Creek Counseling, shared her expert advice. Harmon currently lives in Eagle Mountain with her husband and three daughters. Here are some parenting rules she thinks are worth breaking:
1. Don’t let your kids eat dessert first.
Just as we’re encouraging you to break some common parenting “rules,” Harmon says we should teach our kids that, within reason, sometimes rules are for breaking.
“We go through life teaching our kids to follow the rules, which is great. But life doesn’t always follow the rules,” Harmon said. “Sometimes it is OK to eat dessert first, to skip a day of school because grandma is in town or to tell a grown up a friend’s dangerous secret even though your friend made you promise not to tell. Teaching kids to follow the rules is important, but it is also important to teach them that there are times we need to break the rules.”
2. Encourage your children to share all of their toys.
Harmon said teaching kids about sharing and kindness is important, but she says teaching them that there are certain things they can keep to themselves is also important.
“If they have a special toy or book they don’t want to share, that’s OK,” Harmon said. “Keep it in a special place so it doesn’t get ruined and help your child find another toy to share.”
“Allowing your children to see you cry every once in a while is a good thing. It shows them that having and expressing emotion is OK.” —Nicole Harmon, Marriage and Family therapist
3. Your child’s bad behavior is just a phase.
“There are certain physical and emotional developments that can lead to your child being more difficult than usual, but do not fall into the trap of excusing your child’s behavior based on a certain age stereotype,” Harmon said. “Even though your kid is in the terrible twos, there are certain behaviors you can and should expect from them. Even though your grumpy teen is going through puberty, there are still certain behaviors you should not allow, and a certain level of respect you should expect in your home.”
4. It’s normal to have a bad relationship with your teenager.
Harmon said that although differences in opinion between a teenager and parent are to be expected, the teenage years are crucial when it comes to their need for parental guidance.
“If you are noticing increasing conflict with your teen, focus on your relationship with them,” Harmon said. “When was the last time you sat down and listened to them? When was the last time you took them to a movie they wanted to see, listened to the radio station they wanted to listen to or really learned about what was going on in their lives? The teenage years may continue to be difficult, but you can decrease the chances of a major catastrophe by connecting with your teen and showing him or her that no matter how difficult he or she is and no matter how normal that may be, you want to have a good relationship.”
5. Don’t cry in front of your children.
“Allowing your children to see you cry every once in a while is a good thing,” Harmon said. “It shows them that having and expressing emotion is OK. It shows them that life can be hard, even as a grown up. Modeling for your children healthy ways to cope with difficulty can prepare them to handle their own heartache and disappointment in healthy ways.”
6. Don’t show your children your frustration with them.
“Losing our patience can make us feel like failures as mothers, but it happens to even the most put-together moms. And it’s not all bad,” Harmon said. “Teaching your children that neither you nor they are perfect and to make things right when they make a mistake is an invaluable lesson.”
Find more marriage and family advice from Harmon on her blog.