5 Things I Wish People Told Me About Having Kids As A Millennial Mother
When my daughter was born in 2014, I devoured internet guides, how-to lists, parenting help books and suggestions from friends and family about how to raise her.
Everyone had something to say — from how to dress her and burp her, to how to teach her English and our native tongue at the same time. The advice was overwhelming, often contradictory and difficult to keep track of.
However, a couple of years down the road, I’ve managed to sort through most of it and identify the good, the bad and the useless.
It turns out, raising a child isn’t easy. It never has been, and no amount of advice will make it easy. But there are a few things to keep in mind that can prepare you for the tough challenges that come with parenting.
Here are five pieces of childcare advice all millennial mothers need:
1. Remember to nurture
As important as it is to establish boundaries, rules and expectations for your child.
It’s also important to keep in mind young children with growing brains don’t see the world the way adults do, and that means they don’t emotionally process all rules and boundaries the way we’d expect.
Leave room in your parenting for reminding your child that they’re loved, protected and cared for. Don’t forget to play, entertain and have fun.
2. Abandon traditional gender expectations
Most millennial parents are facing something parents of previous generations likely never thought about: changing expectations of babies’ gender roles.
More and more parents are intentionally choosing gender-neutral toys, de-emphasizing gendered expectations and letting their children explore their identities without imposed expectations.
This isn’t a bad thing; this is the future of the gender conversation. Millennial moms should embrace this trend and let their children be part of a generation raised with more freedom and less rules about what gender should mean.
Let your son have those pink shoes — they won’t burn his skin. Let your daughter have a Lego farmhouse — she’ll have fun and learn spatial skills.
3. Learn to say no
Everyone will have advice on when to say no, how often to say no and how you should say no, but it seems no one ever prepared me for how much I would absolutely not want to say no.
You will love your kid so much, and giving him or her anything and everything brings you gratification and a sense of providing that makes it easy to convince yourself you’re doing the right thing.
But a spoiled child helps no one and only becomes a spoiled adult. Learn to say no to your kids and identify the difference between gratification and a good parenting decision, and learn that saying no is hard but necessary.
4. Not everyone has good advice
One thing to keep in mind is you will get a lot of bad advice as a new parent, and it’s not always easy to identify.
For example, recent studies have shown that placing babies on their backs significantly reduces the chance of Suddent Infant Death Syndrome, but up to 30 percent of adults still believe the stomach is the safest position to lay a baby for bed.
Even less dangerous advice, like letting your baby cry himself or herself to sleep, can come with unintended increased anxiety in your developing child. (For the record, an infant crying usually has a reason — you should always at least check it out).
5. Your child won’t be perfect
One of the most difficult lessons you’ll learn is that your child will not be perfect. He or she will have discipline issues, behavioral issues, developmental issues.
As your kids get older, they’ll defy your expectations and develop the normal complexities of everyday humans. No one wants to think their children will be anything less than perfect, but there’s no reason to assume your child won’t display behavioral problems, won’t show a tendency towards tantrums, won’t struggle with health issues or school.
Learn to expect the unexpected, or at least be prepared.
If you’re a new or expecting mother, congratulations: You have a lot ahead of you. Balance the good advice with your own experiences. Find your own parenting path and raise your child how you see fit.
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