5 parenting 'rules' that should be ignored (or laughed at).

Alys Gagnon


Who said there were rules about how to parent your child? Sure, there are some things that are certainly black and white. Don’t shake the baby comes to mind. That.

But let’s explore a few of the “rules” of modern parenting.

1. You’re a good parent if your baby sleeps/sleeps in your room/co-sleeps etc

Actually, you’re a good parent if, whatever decision you make about where or how the baby is sleeping or even if the baby is not sleeping, you manage to get through the day without putting the baby in the microwave. Babies are exhausting, though I admit those of us with babies that don’t sleep are more exhausting. If you had a shower at some point during the day, well, good job mum. Keep it up.

2. You’re a good parent if you follow a routine.

Actually, you’re a good parent if you feed your child, change its nappy, play with it, cuddle it, put it down for a rest. No matter what sort of pattern those activities happen in, or if there’s no pattern at all, you’ve given the child everything it needs. Well done you.

3. You’re a good parent if you breastfeed.

Actually, you’re a good parent if you feed a hungry baby, breast or bottle. ‘nuff said.

4. You’re a good parent if you make your own organic vegetable purees.

Alys with her son

Actually, you’re a good parent because you gave your child the food that s/he requires to, you know, live. If your kid refuses to eat anything except the chocolate custard in the jar, then you know, take a break today. Nothing bad will happen. At the very least, they’re getting a bunch of calcium. Tomorrow you might try something new. A miracle might happen and the child might eat the broccoli. No biggie.

5. You’re a good parent if you stay at home with your child.

Actually, you’re a good parent if you engage with your child. You’re a good parent if your child is developmentally stimulated, loved and has a chance to explore the world. Sometimes that happens at home and sometimes that happens outside the home. I, for one, could not care how you make that happen.

I could go on.

I talk to a lot of mothers. For the most part they’re pretty much on my page, you know the one where we give each other a pat on the back and remind each other that we’re doing an awesome job.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the people making up the “rules” either had kids 30 years ago or haven’t had kids. (That’s not to say that all people in that category are contributing to the “rules”. I know some lovely people in those categories who are incredibly supportive of parents – you know who you are. Thank, by the way.) If that’s the case, here, you can borrow my toddler and work out the best way to deal with body thrashing tantrums and let me know. I’ll be off to pour a gin and tonic.

Do you have any parenting rules of your own? Do you break any of these?

Alys Gagnon is a mother, a wife and works in politics.

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