Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Expectations are heaped upon mothers in countless ways.
Myths disguised as truth are everywhere. They might tell us that if we don’t discipline our child the right way, feed them a certain way, or follow the right parenting philosophy, we are failing our children. Those are just a few of the many expectations out there.
Sometimes these expectations vary depending on culture, geographic location, race, or socioeconomic status. No matter what the expectations are, though, they have one thing in common: they are myths that deserve to be debunked.
Common Motherhood Myths
Myth: If I don’t sign my children up for numerous activities, they will miss out on important opportunities for their future.
This is one of the biggest myths about motherhood out there! At no other time in history have children (and their mothers) been so overbooked. In our desire to make sure our children are well-rounded; we instead box them into schedules and activities that stifle their development. These busy calendars make everyone irritable, tired, and stressed out.
The truth is young children need free time for healthy development. More and more early childhood educators are reminding parents of this. Free time to explore their own environments and interests at their natural pace is vital to normal sensory development. Unscheduled time allows kids the time to create, whether with art supplies or long stories of make-believe.
Overbooking is not common in other parts of the world. Educators often point to attitudes toward early schooling in European countries as important examples. Despite a more relaxed approach to the early years, these children still outperform American kids on tests and emotional health.
Myth: If I do everything as perfectly as possible, my child will be able to avoid big problems down the road.
Mothers throughout history have worried about their children. These worries begin at the first sign of pregnancy and continue even after a child has become an adult and left home. It’s natural for moms to want to protect their children in any way possible. After all, there’s so much out of our control.
This desire to protect our children can lead us to adhere to strict approaches toward matters both big and small. We spend hours evaluating everything from the best baby spoon to use to which parenting approach we think is most valid.
And yes, while much of our parenting approach certainly does matter, sometimes we have to know what we can afford to let go of. In five, ten, or twenty years, we will realize we spent way too much time worrying about things that would have been better set aside. Our children and their future are largely out of our control. We can do our best, but no amount of perfection on our parts will make their lives perfect.
Myth: If I parent the right way, I can prevent my child from having behavioral issues.
Maybe you can look back at your own childhood and identify experiences in your family of origin that created emotional or interpersonal problems in your future. Perhaps your parents yelled too much and you know that contributed to your feelings of shyness. Or they left you to your own devices so much that you missed out on a sense of belonging. You don’t want that to happen to your own child, so you try to engineer a more effective, productive parenting approach.
Sometimes though, despite our very best efforts, our children will still exhibit some of the very same emotional struggles we had. This is due to the lovely nature of genetic influence. Researchers are learning more and more about the inherent roots of personality and behavior. While environment and parenting can mitigate some of its factors, much of our children’s personality truly is out of our control.
Chances are, you can think of several additional motherhood myths that have impacted your life. If so, don’t be afraid to question them and decide for yourself what’s best for you and your family.
Because early motherhood is such an intense period of life, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. If you are struggling with anxiety, relentless fatigue, or sadness, please reach out to us or, consider joining our new group for moms, Momversations! Together, we can help you find joy and empowerment for the journey ahead.