I’m into writing lists lately. I suppose it’s helpful for those of you with ADD or if you’re a Twitterholic. So, without further ado, here’s 10 things I give you parents permission not to waste your time worrying about:
1. That your kid’s going to poke his eye out. This is rare. I do have a friend who, in a totally freak accident, knocked his eye out when he hit a golf ball into a tree. But that was, as I noted, freaky. Your kid may stab herself in the face with a stick, but actually poking her eye out? Probably not gonna happen. Even so, I discourage running with scissors.
2. That the one time you lost it and screamed irrationally at your kid makes you a bad parent. If you vent on your kid regularly, you might be a bad parent. But if you’ve done it once or twice, then you have apologized and explained that parents can have difficult days too, that’s OK. It’s not necessarily bad for our kids to understand that we’re human.
3. That vaccinations cause autism. They don’t. The benefits of vaccination far outweigh the chance of rare reactions to the vaccine ingredients. And there’s no correlation between vaccinations and autism, despite what Jenny McCarthy says.
4. That your baby/toddler/kid is never going to be able to sleep in his/her own bed. Trust me on this. Every child is different, and some need a lot of physical contact to soothe them (I think it’s genetic — my son and I both calm immediately with touch). As long as it’s not interfering with your partner relationship, don’t worry about your kid ending up in your bed most nights. Sooner than you think, he’ll be saying, “Ewww. I don’t want to snuggle.” Then you’ll be sad.
5. That the Internet is going to help you figure out what’s wrong with your kid. Trust your instincts. If your kid is really sick, don’t Google; call your pediatrician. And if your kid’s a little behind on a developmental milestone, there’s no need to let the Internet convince you that she’s challenged for life.
6. That lying to your kids is immoral. A white lie now and again can protect their feelings and give us parents some necessary breathing room. Plus there are fun things parents lie about for years that don’t cause kids trauma. Santa Claus, y’all.
7. That ignoring your kids is wrong. Kids don’t need to be constantly entertained and stimulated any more than adults do. In fact, studies show that boredom and down time can lead to creativity and imaginary play that’s beneficial. So ignore your offspring now and again. Tell them to go outside and figure out what to do with themselves. You’ll be more relaxed and so will they.
8. That you did something as a parent you said you’d never do. We’ve all been there — letting a kid eat junk cereal for breakfast or watch more than their allotted hour of daily TV. Eating crow just makes you a normal person. No need to castigate yourself.
9. That you “let” your kid get a cold or the flu. We don’t live in bubbles and kids touch a lot of things they shouldn’t and then stick their fingers up their noses. In truth, the occasional virus increases immunity and exposure to germs early in life decreases infections and allergies later. Let them eat mud!
10. That your divorce is going to ruin your kids forever. Yes, divorce is traumatizing. But if the parents can behave like adults and continue to communicate with each other and their kids, guess what? It’s not the end of the world. Divorce does not turn kids into victims. Don’t let them buy into that.
Parenting is stressful enough. Let yourself let go of some of those should’ves, would’ves, and could’ves. Everybody will be happier.