Parenting is one of the topics guaranteed to start wars all over the internet and in real life. People have very strong opinions about how their kids should be raised, and rightly so! There are some objectively wrong ways to raise a child, like corporal punishment and psychological intimidating. But there are parenting tactics that get a bad reputation in some circles when they’re actually really smart.
Have you heard that vaccinating your child puts them at risk of autism? Or that allowing kids access to technology will make them a mindless slave to the world of social media?
Fear-mongering, especially online, has been allowed to cloud our opinions and that’s not necessarily okay. Nor are the "facts" always true.
So take a look at these 20 examples of parenting topics that have been branded controversial but actually have proven benefits and can be a really smart thing to do introduce kids to. Doing one's own research on these is certainly still important, and one should never believe something that someone comments on a social media post – parenting is too important to believe any old random thing written on the internet!
Except this, of course. (But do that extra research anyway!)
20 Raising Kids Vegan
Now, hear me out. I know parents don’t have to raise their kid vegan. I’m not about to be the vegan police and tell parents that they're awful for letting their kid eat meat. But there does tend to be a kneejerk reaction to vegan parenting that just isn’t at all fair. It’s completely possible to raise a child in a way that’s both vegan, healthy, and – shockingly – it might even be smart because it’s good for the environment to decrease meat consumption.
There’s a lot of fear-mongering when it comes to swaddling. The biggest criticism is that one's child could overheat or suffocate. But according to Baby Center and other sources, swaddling is completely safe as long as a parent does it right – do it as a way to make the baby feel secure, not to keep them warm, leave it a little loose rather than too tight, etc. Parents should also stop doing it when the baby is rolling over by themselves, but until then? It’s a totally fine practice for newborns. Swaddle away.
18 Letting Children "Cry It Out"
There are parents who believe that letting a baby cry it out is cruel and heartless because the baby is looking for comfort. This is known as the Ferber method, and it’s been controversial for a number of years now.
However, a study done by CNN has shown that it’s very effective to let one's baby cry it out. It stops them from having sleep problems and does not stress out babies as long as it’s done responsibly and the parents do their research first.
17 Extended Breastfeeding
Extended breastfeeding has been endorsed by a number of celebrities, but some people prefer to stop this as soon as possible for fear that it’s bad for the child. The truth is, it’s perfectly natural and normal to want to continue breastfeeding for a little longer than normal. There’s an obvious common sense limit, but extended breastfeeding in itself has been proven to have a number of health benefits as seen on Parents.com, who showcased studies that found it has benefits such as a better immune system.
Co-parenting is the act of having more than one parent that isn’t necessarily a standard marriage – for example, those in a polyamorous relationship might co-parent, or a couple who separated but who now each have new partners.
Although the reaction to this tends to be negative, there’s nothing that shows this has a negative effect on a child as long as every parent is a stable, emotionally supportive person that the child can trust. It’s unconventional, sure, but unconventional doesn’t automatically mean bad.
Home-schooling is often stigmatized as strange, but recently, it’s become a lot more of an accepted thing. Home-schooling doesn’t necessarily mean an isolated child – there are communities that the child can join with other home-schooled kids which means they can have friends and still enjoy the benefits of an education at home. This means they can also develop their social skills, disproving the theory that a child educated at home is one who will grow up to have no social skills at all.
14 Child Leashes
Child leashes also cause a kneejerk controversial reaction because leashes are generally thought of as items for animals. But a leash can actually be helpful for a child.
If someone has a toddler who is prone to running off into busy roads, or if someone is at a busy event where they don’t want to accidentally let go of their child’s hand and lose them, a leash provides the perfect solution. This is for very young children only, of course, but there’s no real reason this isn’t a good idea in those situations. It’s better than many alternatives, like a lost child.
13 Vaccinating Children
Recently, there has been an upswing of people who believe that vaccines cause autism.
This is a myth. And even if it wasn’t, autism is a better alternative than polio. Vaccinate your kids!
There’s no reason not to. History of Vaccines has shown that most scientists believe there is absolutely no relationship between vaccines and autism, and that many studies have been carried out to prove this. Vaccinating your child only protects them (and other children and people) from dangerous diseases, and it’s irresponsible not to.
Co-sleeping can be criticized because it can leave the child dependent on the parent, or the parent might roll over and hurt or suffocate the child in the middle of the night. But co-sleeping doesn’t have to be that way. Co-sleeping can work just as well as letting your child cry it out in another room if done sensibly. This just means that your child should have their own sleeping space rather than share the bed with you, like a crib beside it. Still sleeping beside each other, but safely!
11 Giving Kids Electronics
Giving kids electronics is often seen as a bad thing because parents are afraid that their child will become dependent on the technology and no longer want to play outside or exercise.
The truth is that monitored technology use can be great. Don’t let your eight-year-old have a Facebook account, but show them the educational gaming apps available on your iPad. This is another thing too often dismissed as bad when it can actually be a really smart learning tool.
10 Giving Kids Independence At An Early Age
Giving your child independence sounds scary because the idea of letting them walk around outside alone at a young age is scary. This is because child abduction is every parent's worst nightmare and although it’s a terrifying thought, Washington Post found that child abduction rates in the US have never been lower – and it’s similar in other Western countries. So, of course, this is dependent on where you live, but mostly, it’s fine to let your kid have a little independence and will actually teach them a lot.
Bottle-feeding vs breastfeeding is another great debate. A lot of parents believe that breastfeeding is best because it’s natural and there are a lot of benefits, but this is simply not possible for a lot of people – or it’s their personal choice not to. And that’s fine. Bottle-feeding can be completely healthy and beneficial too, so don’t be shamed into thinking that bottle-feeding support is illegitimate and you’re a bad parent for choosing this route for your child. It has its advantages.
8 Addressing Consent Early
Many parents don’t like the idea of addressing serious, heavy, or mature topics with their child early in life because they don’t want to upset them or have a conversation that might be awkward.
The truth is, being open with your child about these kinds of things will help both them and your relationship in the long-run. It’ll give you a level of trust and it’ll also educate them on issues like consent. As uncomfortable as these conversations can be to have, it’s important your child is educated.
Pacifiers can be good for your child because it really can soothe and calm them. People often worry about giving them to their children because they can become addicted – and that’s why it’s important to draw boundaries – but for the most part, children do find them comforting and this can help them a lot when they’re feeling anxious.
It’s your choice about whether to give your child a pacifier, but regardless of what you do, there’s no need to look down on parents who do! There are legitimate reasons for doing it.
6 Medicated Births
Some people think it’s best to have all-natural births. Some people don’t agree with medication during births because they’re worried it can interfere with the body’s natural process and somehow be bad for the baby.
The truth is, the medication used is tried and tested, and birthing can be such a painful experience for some women that they need the medication. Some women have an easier birth than others, and everyone’s experience is individual. If you’re one of the unlucky ones, don’t feel bad for making things easier on yourself.
Baby-wearing is another method that people look down on – it makes kids too close to their parents, or it makes the baby look like an accessory. But the truth is, it makes a baby feel safe, secure and it keeps them close to you – there’s nothing wrong with it. If you, as a parent, would rather not, then that’s completely fine too – but there are reasons to consider doing it, and none to look down on the people who choose to!
4 Sharing Pictures Online
Some people really hate that parents share photos of their kids online. They say it’s not safe or secure.
The truth is, it’s an easy way to share a child’s progress and growing up with the family when they may live a long way away. Not everyone has their grandparents or extended family close by. I think it’s fine to share pictures online – just make sure your privacy settings are set so that strangers can’t come by and look at the pictures too.
3 Peaceful Parenting
Some people – a lot of the time, those in the baby boomer generation – think peaceful parenting is soft. They grew up being spanked, so they think that kids need to be spanked to behave.
Teaching a kid to fear you does not teach a kid to respect you. There are other tried and proven methods of disciplining a child or teaching them how to behave, and spanking can actually have really negative effects on a child according to Psychology Today, such as making them more aggressive in later life.
2 Allowing Teenagers To Date
When your kid hits that age when they start to get crushes, it can be a really scary concept to allow them to pursue those crushes. The thing is, they will regardless, when at school or outside with their friends – your best bet is to tell them they can talk to you so you can give them advice and maintain an open, honest relationship rather than making them feel like they have to hide things. That’s where the real danger is.
1 Birth Control
Often, teenage girls want to go on birth control. Sometimes it’s for reasons that they’re way too young to be considering, and for that, it’s fine to say no, but be open-minded.
Birth control things can help their menstrual cycle be less painful or more regular, and it has other benefits like curing acne. There may be a reason that they want this other than the pill or implant’s sole purpose and it’s worth considering rather than being horrified and saying no right off the bat.