• 11 Common Myths About Parenting and Tips Raising Well-Adjusted Kids

    As a parent of three and a grandparent of two, I’ve navigated the complex world of parenting, filled with the inevitable ups and downs, as well as the joys and challenges. There is an immense sea of advice available, which can be overwhelming to figure out the best ways to raise your kid(s).

    In this article, I want to tackle some common parenting myths and share the truths I’ve learned along the way – as a parent, a practicing therapist, and a reader of a lot of human development research.

    My aim is to make the adventures in parenting a bit smoother and more fulfilling for you, reminding us all that, at its heart, parenting is about love, understanding, and doing the best we can at any given moment for the children in our lives.

    Let me add that there is no such person as a perfect parent or child. So, please be gentle and kind to yourself as you navigate parenthood. I have three children in their 30s, and I am still working on being the best parent I can be. It doesn’t end when they turn 18 or 21!

    So, here we go with some of the most common myths about parenting.

    1. There is only one way that works to parent a child.

    False: This is absolutely not true. There is no exact science that has determined only one correct approach for every child and every family.

    There are thousands of books and articles describing different ways of parenting, but there is no book for your specific child.

    2. Parenting apps and science-based websites are the best sources for parenting tips and advice.

    False: It turns out that while those apps and other online resources can indeed be helpful, research shows that parenting tips from trusted sources, such as immediate family members, including grandparents and siblings, friends who are parents, and pediatricians, are more valuable than online sources.


    3. Babies that are breastfed have higher intellectual abilities.

    False: While breastfeeding has documented benefits for both mom and baby, there is no scientific agreement supporting the thesis that breastfed babies have higher intellectual abilities.

    In fact, researchers have consistently concluded that intelligence is directly correlated with genetic predisposition more than any other variable. And, of course, intelligence is also influenced by environmental factors such as education, socioeconomic status, nutrition, and access to learning resources.


    Although anecdotal, my cousin won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Like the vast majority of our generation, he was bottle-fed.

    4. We spoil our children by what we give them materially.

    False: We tend to spoil our children not so much by what we give them. We spoil them by not instilling a value system that emphasizes a sense of gratitude for what they do have.

    A lack of gratitude can instill a sense of entitlement and a decreased sense of appreciation. The happiest people I know emphasize their thankfulness for what they have, regardless of their socio-economic status.

    5. You can hold your newborn baby too much.

    False: It is important to remember that your new baby has been “held,” so to speak, for the entire time they were in utero. They were in a protected environment and were used to warm and nurturing contact.

    That doesn’t change the moment they are born. They need to be held more in the beginning stage of life to continue feeling nurtured and safe.

    This need for connection is hardwired in humans – all mammals, for that matter – and the need for connection continues throughout our entire lifespan.

    6. Children are naturally resilient and will always overcome life’s challenges.

    False: No child is born with a “resilience gene.” It is not an innate trait that any child is born with. We need to teach them coping mechanisms.

    Children need to develop resilience by having loving and supportive parents, and who provide a sense of safety while also encouraging their children to be courageous in life. This approach helps to form the bedrock of their ability to feel confident.

    To promote resilience in our children, we want to encourage them to take on seemingly difficult tasks. This helps to remind them that they can survive and thrive the inevitable challenges that life will throw their way.

    Having said that, being overprotective of a child in a way that shields them from any and all adversity can inhibit their ability to develop healthy ways to adapt to the inevitable challenges that life presents. This is a frequent and unintended consequence of what we refer to as “helicopter parenting.”

    Children become confident when they can face adversity. They also need to know that not every situation will work out the way they want it to. They need a dose of reality and the knowledge that they can both survive and learn from the sometimes painful experiences in their life.

    7. Punishment is the best way to teach children discipline.

    False: It turns out that relying upon punishment to discipline is not helpful. In fact, it can result in the exact opposite in terms of learning discipline.

    Research now clearly demonstrates that spanking a child may get them to conform in the short run, but they will learn the message that physical violence is a means to resolve a conflict and to dominate or be dominated.

    There is a difference between punishment and providing a system of consequences. Punishment comes in two forms: physical punishment and psychological punishment. Either can cause damage to a child, resulting in both physical and emotional harm.

    Physical punishment as a primary means of instilling discipline will inevitably lead to children who are more anxious, depressed, lonely, embarrassed, ashamed, and suffer from low self-esteem. This type of punishment includes spanking, hitting, and slapping behaviors, which should never ever be used.

    In addition, adults who, as children, were spanked are statistically more likely to engage in and/or become victims of domestic violence.

    There is also psychological punishment in the form of verbal abuse, ridicule, chronic lecturing, public and private shaming, isolation, and showing contempt for your child. This all comes under the umbrella of abuse, and laws in many jurisdictions condemn both physical and emotional punishment as destructive forms of abuse.

    Children who live in this environment grow to believe that they are “bad” and not worth loving.

    It is fine to have reasonable expectations, but unrealistically strict parents can do as much damage as parents who do not promote any accountability at all.

    However, there is plenty of good news. The current and growing body of research clearly indicates that people are much more motivated through a system of positive rewards.

    Truly positive approaches, rooted in love, serve as a powerful motivator. Focusing on positivity builds more intrinsically desired attitudes and behaviors for children.

    This doesn’t mean that children should not experience consequences for their actions. There needs to be certain boundaries in the form of rules and expectations so that they can learn how to function in the world.

    Consequences – negative ones – are sometimes needed to cool things off. It can take the form of a time-out, grounding, loss of privileges, or extra chores.

    Whenever possible, children should know in advance what the positive and negative consequences are. Don’t worry if you haven’t consistently and clearly communicated the consequences. As parents, we are also a work in progress.

    It is also important to ask your child what they were or are feeling that led to an undesirable behavior. It is also important to help them realize that there are other choices they can make.

    Yes. There needs to be reasonable consequences for their actions, but punishment is demonstrably not the way to go. Make it a point to comment on the positives, no matter how small.

    It’s one thing to say, “I hate it when you don’t do your homework.” Just saying it in this way is a form of punishment. Here’s why:

    When parents express extreme displeasure, particularly on a mundane topic like homework, it carries emotional weight, leading to stress and anxiety, and can be hurtful and punitive.

    Additionally, a child can take that comment as a verbal reprimand, a form of punishment that may decrease the likelihood of the behavior (not doing homework) recurring.

    It’s another thing to focus on the positive and say, “I see that it is a challenge to do your homework, and I really appreciate the effort you are putting into this right now.”

    Positive affirmations, when coupled with a system of rewards for each desired behavior, are more effective than punishment and highlight the significance of self-discipline by promoting positive outcomes.


    8. Never have a disagreement in front of your children because it will always be traumatic.

    False: There is a difference between a disagreement that is resolved in a conversation, as opposed to a disagreement that becomes an argument laced with resentment and contempt.

    It is true that if you are having toxic arguments in front of your children, it will not only be traumatizing for them, but it will model unhealthy communication styles. If this becomes the norm for them now, it could unconsciously become the norm for them in their own relationships – now and in years to come.

    However, it is quite fine for our children to see their parents have a conversation based upon each parent sincerely trying to be heard and understood by the other.

    Children can learn how to resolve conflicts when they see how their parents communicate in a healthy, non-threatening way. They can see their parents as teammates who love one another and talk respectfully with their partner, even if they don’t always agree.

    9. Authoritarian parenting gets quicker and longer lasting results.

    True and False: Although authoritarian parenting may yield more immediate compliance, just like with a steady diet of punishment, research shows that authoritarian parenting does not lead to longterm healthy growth and development of a child.

    Children of authoritarian parents tend to resent, act out, rebel, and engage in other destructive behaviors when feeling like they are constantly “under the thumb.”

    It turns out that children raised under dictatorial rule tend not to perform as well socially or academically. They often suffer from more anxiety and depression, and sometimes their physical health is also impacted.

    The healthier way is for each child to grow up in an environment that is loving, nurturing, and kind. In this way, children form strong and healthy attachments to their parents because they feel safe with a nurturing parent, as opposed to one who rules by strict commands.


    10. Parenting is easy if you love your children.

    False: Parenting is work. It requires intentionality.  In this day and age, numerous books, articles, apps, and experts emphasize that “love will conquer all.”

    I admit that in many circumstances as a parent, I too believe that love is vital… but it doesn’t always work. Simply feeling love is not enough.

    Sometimes, being a parent is understandably hard with so many competing needs between the needs of our children and our personal needs, and trying to find a semblance of work-life balance.

    And therein lies one of the paradoxes of life: parenting is both the hardest and the most rewarding job there is.

    There is no book or app designed for your particular child. You are writing that book for your child right now, and there will never be another book written exactly like this one.

    And if you have more than one child, you will also realize that what works for one child may or may not work for another. You are writing as many books on parenting as you have children!


    11. Your children should always be your highest priority.

    False:  We’ve all heard the old saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” The same applies to husbands, but nobody has figured out how to make that rhyme yet!

    My experience, both personally and in my practice, supports the same idea in a family setting: the happier a parent, the happier a child will likely be.

    It is not healthy if, as parents, we only focus on our children’s wishes, needs, and desires to the exclusion of ourselves. This does not model a healthy, balanced life.

    There are families that are more child-centric, and there are families that are more parent-centric. The happiest families I know strive to balance the needs of the children and the needs of the parents. It isn’t realistic that they will always achieve that balance on any given day… and that’s ok.

    The healthiest families I know are parents who clearly love their children both in words and deeds.

    All of this is true whether you are a parent with a partner or a single parent who may or may not be in a relationship. The basic principles of loving kindness always apply.



    When our children see parents who actively love, respect, and nurture each other and themselves, they learn an important lesson. They realize that not only are their individual needs important but also that their parents are human and have their own needs to fulfill.

    Sometimes, those needs include a quiet moment. Sometimes, it’s hiring a sitter and going out for a couple of hours, or a night or two or three or…well, you get the picture!

    In the long run, this philosophy of taking care of all the members of the family is so much more enjoyable and nurturing for everyone.

    I hope that you have found this article helpful in removing at least some of the stigma and stress you may be experiencing that is associated with these parenting myths. Please reach out if I can support your journey as a parent. I am more than happy to offer you a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if I am a good fit for parent coaching that you may need right now.