5 Parenting Rules I’m Willing to Break

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parenting advice/rules that need to let go for your child happiness

I get why we no longer make candy cigarettes and why slap bracelets are fundamentally unsafe and I see how essential oils could help with digestion and asthma. However, there are some trends I’m just going to have to ignore despite the potential judgment. With three kids under five and one of them in a wheelchair, there are only so many of the “parenting rules” I can obey. I learned early on when my twins turned two and morphed into sociopaths that I was going to have to be okay with being uncool in many mom circles. But here’s the truth: I think we all have our rules we break, our parenting myths we choose to cast aside for the betterment of our family and our sanity. I think every mom can agree on that. So in honor of noble rebellion, here are five of the parenting rules I’ve decided to break:

      1. Reining in their Freedom: I’ve got two kid leashes in my cart on Amazon.com right now. Beaches, zoos, crowded malls and airports give me heart palpitations if I have to maneuver them alone with a wheelchair and two kids who run in opposite directions. Safety beats appearance. I’m getting the harnesses so I can harness the chaos. You’ll be glad I did when my toddler stops just short of full-body tackling your dog.
      2. Technology for Tots: I’ve read all the literature and seen the Twitter feeds on the damage that the iPhone and iPad can do to young minds, but sometimes I just need to let them work some puzzles on the phone so they forget that dinner is half an hour late in the making. Sometimes my oldest needs a little YouTube Thomas the Train therapy while waiting at the doctor’s office. Check my phone. You will find kid apps. Most will be educational, but we all enjoy a little Candy Crush now and then too.
      3. Food Bribery: Food should not be a reward. But food is such a good reward! If knowing she will lose a jelly bean from the jar will keep her from hitting her brother, then I’m going to use it. If ice cream after a hard day at school will cheer him up, then off to Baskin Robbins we go. Food can be a comfort and I’d rather incentivize with a Nilla Wafer than threaten punishment any day.
      4. Bedtime Roundup: I know you are supposed to dim the lights and start the quiet voice an hour before bedtime. I know you are supposed to bathe every night and rub the lotions inappropriate baby massage patterns, but I just can’t. Sometimes they need to literally run themselves until they drop and sometimes all we have room for is one book and one prayer and they will still be dirty but at least they will be loved. Our family runs full tilt to no tilt. There is no cruising into dreamland for us.
      5. Potty Training by Age 3: Because my oldest has special needs he is almost five and still in diapers. The twins are two-and-a-half and think potty training is a hilarious suggestion that must be a joke. Elmo’s Potty Time video and all the food bribery (see #3) will not change their minds. So I’m not pushing it. It’ll happen when it happens. I’d rebel too if someone kept asking me if I had to go potty.

      Ultimately, our job as parents is to keep our kids happy, healthy, and safe. If we are doing that then the rest is just accessorizing. Don’t judge me for my outfit and I won’t judge you for yours.

      I think it’s about time we gave a rest to all the ‘shoulds’. We should not be shoulding all the time especially when it comes to parenting, because somewhere we’re setting ourselves up for failure.

      Parenting is not an exact science. It’s more like an art form, like kids playing with a coloring book! Sometimes you have to color outsides the lines to preserve the authenticity of the end product.

      What rules do you think parents need to let go of every once in a while? Are there any rules you feel like breaking or have broken sometime in the past. Something that might sound unorthodox to an ear? Would you like to offer some parenting advice?

      I would love to hear other parents’ perspective.


      About the Author

      Jamie Sumner is mom to a son with cerebral palsy and toddler twins. She writes with humor about infertility and special needs parenting on her blog, http:mom-gene.com. You can also connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.


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10 thoughts on “5 Parenting Rules I’m Willing to Break”

  1. Jamie! I love you! I have twins, too (although they are graduating from High School in a few months). I had another one 18 months after they were born. I totally get this. I think the intensity of this season (especially when the intense needs of high need children) sharpens your sense of what’s really essential (oils or not) … I think you’ve got it right on … I still reward my almost adults with a trip to Menchie’s for a job well-done.

    • Moms of multiples unite! Intensity is the perfect word for this stage of life. I think we all have to treat each kid individually which is why one set of “rules” is never going to work for all of us, even all of us in the same family.

  2. Yes to all of this! I agree. You gotta do what works for you. And every single mom uses technology as a babysitter sometimes…no one can convince me otherwise. LOL

  3. I love this – and I love that you’re not afraid to break “conventional” parenting techniques and ideas. Also, with regards to technology … although I’m a total lover of books and literature and try to use that instead of technology for keeping my little one occupied, I think if we DON’T expose our children to technology enough, we are actually hindering their ability to live and be productive in the future that is before us. If you don’t know how to type and text and interact with a touch screen, you WILL be behind. So I remember that if I ever feel guilty about it 🙂

    • I totally agree with you on the technology, Samantha! We’ve got to prepare them for the world they’re going in to and we’ve got to preserve our sanity long enough to get them there ?

  4. Amen, amen, amen! I get that there are studies about certain behaviors, and that it is good to have guidelines, but I am also so tired of feeling guilty if I “break” a parenting “rule”. My kids are older, so the rules I deal with are different, but it is still the same principle. Definitely no judgement here 😉


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