October 31, 2021

The Toxic Parenting Advice that Fuels Childhood Trauma.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.” ~ F. Douglas


When I studied developmental psychology in college, I must admit that the classroom was a challenging environment to stay awake in.

It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I became experientially fascinated by everything they absorbed into their fresh, spongy brains.

When I listened to my innate, intuitive sense of what felt right for my child, I began to hold a laser clear focus of just how I wanted to raise a child in our modern world.

I soon realized that my gut-informed practices were also a bit against the grain of what was to be considered as “the way.”

As I began looking for more data to support my newfound epiphany, I noticed that even before a woman has her child, all the systems that are put in place are filling her mind with doubt, panic, and confusion. It’s all so overwhelming.

This is extremely counterintuitive and the opposite of what mothers/fathers need.

After spending some time with a nervous mom on the beach recently, I offered her some validation. She smiled and tried to reverse my compliment by saying, “Sometimes I wish I could do it better.”

I politely stopped her there and told her how it took me many years (and two children) to realize how damn good I was as a mother. I could tell she was intrigued and leaned into more of my willful anecdotes.

I knew I only had a few moments with her and wanted them to be impactful. I wanted her to take away something that she would remember. I felt intensity bubbling from within, and I could not resist trying to protect her from that feeling of not being enough, knowing enough, or being perfect by societal standards.

I noticed how I had been triggered and laughed (to myself) because I thought I had worked through it all.

Why are moms such a target for criticism in our culture?

I thought about the hardest parts of motherhood: the lack of sleep, the crashing hormones, the learning curve of breastfeeding, the selflessness and never-ending giving of ourselves, the identity crisis, the physical changes that our bodies go through. The list could go on and on, I am certain.

In order to be supportive, to an already depleted human being trying to do her best, let’s stop offering advice that is not helpful to mothers. We can trust a mom’s intuition and let her lead.

Let’s stop giving out unnecessary advice to moms:

>> Don’t spoil your baby with too much love.

>> Don’t breastfeed for too long (or at all).

>> Let your baby cry it out.

>> Don’t snuggle your baby in your own bed.

>> Don’t homeschool your child.

>> Aren’t you going back to work?

With a population so deeply rooted in trauma, neglect, and abuse, why are we so steadfast and adamant about separating moms and babies? How could loving too much ever be a problem?

When others think they know what’s best for our children and scold us for nurturing them too much, this is a societal problem.

I was so sensitive as a new mom, and the only thing I knew was my instinct to love and comfort. My nervous system was dependent on my child’s state of emotional connection. 

Have you ever seen a mother’s face when her infant is screaming?

We panic. Adrenaline and cortisol pour into our bodies for a reason. We are biologically wired to be attached to our babies, and that is why that love hormone, oxytocin, exists.

Now that I have had a few years to fully embody the attachment parenting style, I find it hard to sympathize with those who tried to railroad my natural intuition. 

I am still working on this.

If we turned the negative into the positive, we would be living and experiencing the “village” mentality and not the separate and isolated “we have to do it all alone” mentality.

I was constantly being convinced to push my little babies out of the nest:

>> Hurry up, socialize them. 

>> Hurry up, wean them. 

>> Hurry up, feed them solid foods. 

>> Hurry up, put them in school.

What is f*cking rush? What is so wrong with slowing down childhood? Why are we in such a rush to push our babies out of the nest?

“Maturation happens in the context of strong attached relationships with nurturing adults, who promote independence by inviting dependence. Children can develop independence when they have a strong sense of self.” ~ Gabor Maté

No one has a problem telling a mother to enjoy their little one because they sure grow up fast. Honestly, I think that one burns me the most. If anyone is enjoying their child, it is the mother. She knows every little sound her baby makes and why. She knows the scent of her baby and each little toe on her infant’s teeny, tiny feet.

She is present. She is tired. Please don’t tell her to enjoy it all because part of being grateful is taking the joy with the pain. There is no other way.

Seriously, if you have never been in the hot seat of motherhood, please do not tell another mother to “enjoy it.” 

Why is it mothers who must face and defend their natural instincts to our one-size-fits-all society? 

Why is inherent wisdom looked down upon and often negated in today’s modern culture?

I only hope that we, as a culture, can begin to look deeply at the root of all of our collective trauma.

Nothing is more sacred than the connection a mother has with her little one. Respect it as magical and resist the urge to think that she needs anything more than admiration, support, and delicious and nourishing food to sustain her 24-hour, around-the-clock care. She will greatly appreciate it.

The sooner, we as a society, are ready to accept this, the sooner we can move into a more empathy-filled, grounded framework to operate from. 


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