Things Parents Said They Would Never Do; and Then Do!

Things Parents Said They Would Never Do; and Then Do!

And how to keep the spirit of those ideals alive even when facing reality

Many parents remember the days before their children were born when they viewed their impending parenthood with complete confidence and certainty about the parents they would become. And then the baby is born. And everything changes. 

Many of those ideals are gone before a baby becomes a toddler. The trials and tribulations of parenting can be long and hard, so bending on things they thought they never would is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as they don’t break completely. They can always revisit them in the future.

The following is a list of some common ideals and “promises” that parents often believe before they actually have kids, only to quickly discard them when they come home with a child, as well as ways to adjust expectations in order to keep their spirit alive and attainable.

Passive about pacifiers
Many parents tell anyone willing to listen that they will never use pacifiers with their children, citing often incorrect information about damage to teeth and development. Then they are faced with an inconsolable child and give in completely. So many parents use pacifiers to soothe children that those suckers must be doing something right. And they are. But that doesn’t mean that parents should not try to get at the root of why a baby is crying, including making sure a baby is fed, clean or not experiencing discomfort. Using pacifiers is okay, but parents should wean their baby off them at 12 to 18 months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) or risk some negative consequences.

Dependence on digital
Before their child is born, many parents see other caregivers who use phones or digital devices to placate their children and scoff. But when they come face to face with the difficulty of dealing with young children, new parents are often quick to rely on digital solutions. It’s hard to fault parents for depending on such devices and research has shown that more and more children, including under 2 years old, are using them. 

While communicating with faraway relatives and educational opportunities are digital uses that are beneficial, there can be a host of negative consequences when parents use them too often with their young children, including getting in the way of healthy development. Parents should limit their use, especially with younger children. The AAP provides Media Use Guidelines for Families at

Foregoing fast-food
One of the most common aspirations of soon to be parents is to make sure their children have a healthy and nutritious diet, as they should. This often leads them to swear off any fast food, candy and any kind of processed foods – which are often our kids’ favorites. Again, however, the reality of busy schedules and lives often finds parents increasingly depending on these nutritionally devoid foods. 

It is critical to make sure your children have healthy diets, but it is also often unrealistic for that to mean that every single meal will be a homemade masterpiece that hits all the major food groups. The key is to not make those fast-food stops or Hot-Pockets part of your children’s everyday routine. It’s okay to give in to the lure of unhealthy foods every once in a while, but they must be the exception and not the rule. Also, look for the least unhealthy foods available in any given situation, including choosing grilled instead of fried chicken tenders and fruit and juices instead of fries and soda.

Segue to sleep
Though new parents will be looking to get any sleep they can, as our children get older bedtime and when they get up become important concerns for parents, with good reason. Sleep is vital to a children’s development, with physical, emotional and mental health all impacted. Parents to be often see this as a no-brainer, in bed by 8:30 p.m. and out of bed early in the morning. Those ideals are harder to keep than many new parents understand, especially with work schedules and other factors coming into play.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 12-16 hours for infants to 1 year old; 11-14 hours for children 1-2; 10-13 hours for 3–5-year-olds; 9-12 hours for 6–12-year-olds; and 8-10 hours for 13 to 18 year olds. Sticking to schedule and routine is important, but so is flexibility in the summers and other times, as long as they are hitting those numbers.

Though most parents go through a harsh reality check once their babies are born, the realization that they will have to adjust some ideas that they may have considered dealbreakers doesn’t mean they are bad parents. It just means they are learning. That means they may have to be flexible in ways they didn’t foresee. It is important, however, to think about the reason why they had those ideals and make sure they don’t lose sight of them as their children grow. In other words, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

Parents looking for ways to build skills in all manner of different parenting topics should check out The Children's Parent Club that offers free parenting workshops with trained facilitators and other parents. The workshops given in three languages: English, Spanish and Haitian Creole. For a list of topics and dates, click here