The Worst Parenting Advice I Ever Received

parenting Jul 10, 2023

Something you can expect once you become a dad are people advising you on what to do or how to parent your child. 

All parents experience the barrage of unsolicited advice, whether it’s from well-meaning friends, relatives, and even strangers. It’s as if everyone becomes instant child-rearing experts the moment they find out you’re now a dad — experts who simply just have to share their wisdom.

While some advice ends up being actual words of wisdom, others aren’t super helpful. In fact, some advice (both asked and unsolicited) is downright harmful and outdated.

Still, there’s some value to sharing these pieces of advice — if only so that other dads like myself would know what not to do and what to steer clear of. 

Here it is: the five worst pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever received in all my years as a father.

1. Don’t Change Diapers

The advice I will probably remember for the rest of my life actually came from a much older guy I knew from the gym. Now, I’m sure he meant well, but his words are simultaneously shocking, outdated, and most importantly, wrong.

He told me, in no uncertain terms, that dads don’t change diapers. Even worse, he told me to just let the mother of my child do it.

According to him, diapers are apparently solely the mom’s responsibility. Thankfully, we’re not stuck in the 1950s anymore. I’m sure we all know by now that parenting is a team effort.

Changing diapers is a prime opportunity to bond with your baby. It allows you to be actively involved in your child’s life from the very start, fostering a strong connection and understanding between you and your little one.

Moreover, it’s a simple and easy way to share the caregiving responsibilities. It allows your hardworking and tired partner a chance to rest, even for a moment. Even better, it lets them know that you’re there to support them and that you’ve got their back.

2. Bite Your Kid Back

Now this bad parenting advice truly left me flabbergasted. Imagine someone telling you that the best thing to do when a kid — someone who doesn’t know any better — bites or hits you is to bite or hit them back.

Although it was presented as a method of teaching consequences, I 100% believe this approach is misguided. Most importantly, it’s just plain harmful!

Instead of promoting understanding, it could potentially encourage even more violent behavior in kids. I think a lot of people forget that children learn by example. If you retaliate and respond with aggression, that’s what your kids will learn and emulate.

This will only end up perpetuating the very behavior you should be discouraging.

A better way to approach this is to provide clear instructions on appropriate behavior. Show or tell them what to do rather than what they shouldn’t do! Encouraging positive communication and modeling respectful behavior will teach your child valuable life skills and promote a healthy emotional development.

3. Kids Need a Good Spanking

Honestly, the idea that discipline must involve physical punishment, or specifically spanking, is another outdated piece of advice I encountered multiple times. More than one person has given me this advice — and they aren’t always much older folk. Some are around my age!

It seems to me that they think just because they grew up well despite (or even because of) enduring spankings, then it’s a good idea to keep doing it to children.

However, this has already been proven wrong by numerous studies and parenting experts. Simply put, spanking does more harm than good. It may temporarily suppress undesirable behavior, but it also fails to teach children valuable lessons about empathy and self-regulation. 

Rather than spanking, I believe in the importance of setting clear boundaries and using non-violent disciplinary methods that teach children about respect and consequences. Effective discipline involves communication, setting boundaries, and offering guidance without resorting to physical punishment.

There are a lot of ways to discipline your kid. If you’re interested in learning, Dad University has a course called “Effective Discipline Strategies.” Here, we offer alternative solutions for when you find yourself considering if you need to spank your child.

4. Affection Makes Kids Spoiled

The suggestion that showing too much affection will spoil the child is a piece of advice I genuinely find disheartening. Thinking that hugging, kissing, or cuddling a child too often would lead to spoiled behavior couldn’t be farther from the truth!

Love and affection form the basis of a strong parent-child relationship. They help children feel secure and loved, which is essential for their emotional development.

This is something that’s also been proven by studies and experts! Children who receive ample affection from their parents actually grow up having better self esteem, academic performance, and parent-child communication.

In short, babies and kids who grow up surrounded by hugs, kisses, cuddles, and other physical affection don’t become tyrants. They become more well-adjusted and ready to face the world!

5. Buy the Latest and Best Products

Consumerism and FOMO has something to do with this particular piece of bad parenting advice.

Whether you’re a new dad or are still waiting for your bundle of joy to arrive, you’ve probably already gotten numerous well-meaning messages on what baby products you absolutely need to buy. “It’ll make your life much easier,” they say.

Before you buy anything other people tell you to buy, you first need to separate the needs from the wants. It’s no secret that pregnancy and child-rearing can get expensive. Mistaking unnecessary or optional wants for essential needs can easily break your budget.

To be completely honest — most baby products fall under the latter category. Diapers, clothes, food, a few toys, and a safe sleeping space are vital. Everything else is extra!

Before splurging on trendy baby items, consider the practicality and usefulness of each product. Babies grow and develop quickly, and what might seem essential today may become obsolete in a few months.

Final Words

When it comes to parenting, you won’t ever experience a shortage of advice. Navigating parenthood is a complex journey, and while some of these can be beneficial, it’s important to consider its source and relevance to your family’s situation and values. 

Approaching your fatherhood duties with empathy, communication, and a willingness to learn and grow alongside your child will help you weed out bad advice. Remember to trust your instincts and seek guidance from reputable sources.

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