THESE days everybody is a baby expert — family members, friends, and sometimes even well-meaning strangers. As soon as they see you with a baby in hand they get ready to impart their unsolicited “wisdom” on how to keep, care and raise your offspring. And while many times their advice is well-intentioned and some parents have found them to be useful, lifesaving even, there are some that well… did not fit the bill.
What's the worst parenting advice you've ever received? A few parents share theirs.
Michelle, 38, social worker, mother of two:
My child loves to suck on his tongue. I find it cute, but everyone else seems to have a problem with it. A lot of people have been telling me to use a pin or needle to prick his tongue whenever he sucks on it. I think that's barbaric; I would never do it to him.
Toni-Ann, 34, health inspector, mother of one:
My mother would always shut my son down whenever he tried to express himself. I allowed it for a while without really saying much more than, “mama, you too miserable man”. Then I realised how much damage it was doing — he didn't even want to express himself to me. I was so sorry I let it go on so long because I wanted to be respectful to her. I have since told her that she might have strongly believed that children must be seen and not heard, but once he is respectful in his utterances he should be allowed to explain himself and/or voice his opinion.
Leonie, 29, medical personnel, mother of one:
Somebody who I was very close to told me several times that I needed to pinch my baby's nose because it was too broad. When I prodded, it was because they thought a baby with a broader nose looked too “black”, and her very fair complexion needed “help” — a much straighter nose to fit comfortably into a specific class. This woman wanted me to teach my daughter not to love her black self.
Mirriam, 40, teacher, mother of three:
Growing up, my mother would always say, “don't be your child's friend, make a clear distinction“. But I think a lot of people get it twisted. By the time my first child was 14 years old I realised that all the time I spent telling her as soon as we disagreed that I was her parent and not her friend, I should have been teaching her what a healthy, good friendship looks like. When she was on a downward spiral I realised that I needed to be her friend because as her mother I wouldn't get all I wanted from her. Being my daughter's friend saved our relationship and I was able to help her to find herself. Being your child's friend doesn't have to mean that you accept a kind of behaviour; it's up to you to shape things and I think it's high time that we stop telling parents that their children should fear them.
Tiffany, 43, IT specialist, mother of two:
I was told to put a little rum on the child's tongue and gum when they were teething. I did that like an idiot when the teething got bad and we couldn't sleep. After all, so many women who have raised dozens of children (all healthy) couldn't be wrong, right? That was until my child puked about six times continuously and wouldn't stop sleeping. He slept soundly, but for some uncomfortable hours. When he finally got up I was grateful and I vowed never to try it again. I never thought of trying rum again. Listen, no matter how frustrated you are, don't do it either — it would be better if you try to get support from friends.