What the parenting books don’t tell you
One of the greatest things about the internet is our ability to connect with people just like us who tell it like it is. If I’m booking a hotel, I don’t take the brochure’s word for it – instead I log onto Trip Advisor and see what people who have been there have to say about it. Ditto for restaurants, make-up brands and clothing; I always prefer to get the lowdown from people who have been there before me.
The golden advice you don’t read about in books
Nowhere is this feature of the online world more useful than when it comes to parenting advice. While parenting books have their place, nothing beats connecting with another mum or dad who is on the front line, giving it to you straight. Regardless of whether you’re a co-sleeper or a controlled-crier, a bottle or breast feeder, a helicopter parent or a free-ranger, you can find someone a little further along in their parenting journey who’ll tell you what you need – although not necessarily want – to hear.
It was the theme of a recent Reddit thread, where parents were asked: ‘What do they leave out of the parenting books?’
The answers varied from the sublime to the ridiculous, and we collated some of our favourites – as well as some pearls of wisdom from Kidspot mums – for you to enjoy.
The funny bits of parenting
Parenting without a sense of humour is like getting a root canal without anaesthetic – not recommended and painful as hell. Here are some of the funniest bits of advice …
- [They don't tell you] just how awkward it is when your son/daughter befriends someone at daycare whose parents you can’t stand. Many dilemmas ensue because of this.” - johnrichmondman
- Or when an ex-girlfriend (dated for three years) is your kid’s teacher. And the ex thought you were getting married until you dumped her.” - The_tall_goofy_doc
- ...hate to admit the number of times I recognise that the thing I just said to one of my daughters will most likely be repeated on a therapist’s couch someday.” - Mormon_Buddhist
The gross/awkward/weird bits of parenting
It would seem that parenting brings with it just as many awkward situations as funny ones – and bodily functions you never knew existed.
- “Your daughter may menstruate in her first month. Never mentioned in anything I ever found, three days home from the hospital in the middle of the night and there’s blood in my daughters diaper. I freaked the f#?* out and had to call and wait for a callback from my doctor, for him to just be like ‘Is it coming from her vagina? Yeah, that’s normal, some babies menstruate as they are coming off the hormones from your blood stream’. Thanks for never ever mentioning that as a possibility.” – Anonymous
- “There is such a thing as blowouts … my mother tells me a story of how I was a bit under one year old and I was sitting in my car seat in the back of our car. She turned around to check on me and I was sitting there with a very stern look on my face and all of a sudden sh*t just started pouring out of the neck of my onesie and down my front. She pulled over as fast as possible because she was laughing and crying and freaking out at the same time.” - EmergencyTaco
- They don’t mention all the stickiness. There’s some unmentionable and awk
- Parenting books don’t tell you about fanny farts after childbirth. Most disconcerting.” – Anonymous
- “You won’t go to the toilet by yourself for the first three years and after that they’ll stand outside and ask you what you’re doing.” – Margaret Rafferty
The practical bits of parenting
The best thing about having contact with parents who’ve made all the mistakes before you is that many of them have devised genius methods of avoiding them in the future.
“You will not be raising children. You are raising adults. Don’t forget this. It is so easy to confuse ‘taking care of’ your children with ‘doing everything’ for them. Even very young toddlers can do many things for themselves. They can carry their own bags to pre-school. They can set their own table (if you keep their plates and cups in a low cabinet). A four year old can spread her own butter on toast. You are raising an adult.” fletch-
- “There are so many books on how to prepare for a baby but none that I know of that tell you about the nursery not being needed immediately. All the fancy trimmings in the world won’t make a scrap of difference to the kid. Also, babies are very forgiving little things. They will get over ‘it’ as fast as they were annoyed by ‘it’ and you may never know what ‘it’ was despite trying everything to fix it.” – Jo Lewis
- “You really need to make some time for yourself and your partner. It is so easy to get consumed in taking care of the baby that you put yourself and your partner last. I’m having this problem now. I don’t make any time for myself or my husband and were having a rough patch right now. You’re not a bad parent for taking an hour or two for yourself, it’s took me a couple of years for this to get through my head.” - queenmother
- “Don’t be silent when the baby is sleeping. Talk at normal volume so that they can sleep when there is noise, you will thank me …” I6skittles
- “Maybe I missed the section that explained it in my books but I wasn’t aware you had to rotate the way the babies head lays each time you but them down to sleep. My daughter’s head started to flatten on the back and we freaked out at the paediatrician’s, talks of helmets to reshape and all that. We just kept her out of her baby seat and rotated her each time she went down (had to put a barrier behind her bc she was use to sleeping on her back). She is nice and round headed now, my little rotisserie child.” - BaileyDM
- “This too shall pass’ – good phases, bad phases. And although there’s no guarantee that one phase will be better than one before it, the overall trend, as the months and years pass is ‘It. Gets. Better.’ – Alexandra
The bits that make it all worthwhile
The overwhelming love that comes with becoming a parent makes everything else pale in comparison. And while it’s something that can’t really be described, these mums and dads do a pretty good job of conveying just how special a job it is.
- “That despite all that there is still nothing better than little hands around your neck giving you a hug and telling you that they love you. And that being told, ‘You’re the best mum in the world,’ will make you feeling simultaneously proud as punch and deeply ashamed for not deserving such accolades.” – Margaret Rafferty
- “The people that you surround yourself with are your village. They are just as important if not more important than your flesh and blood. You will share experiences with and go through the same stuff TOGETHER and it will bond you for a long time to come.” – Jennifer Cheung
- “That there will be moments where you feel so in love that your heart feels like it’s going to explode – like actually physically burst. I have to hug the crap out of my son when this happens and I can feel his squirmy body saying, ‘enough already Mum!’” – Lana Hallowes
What advice do you have that isn't in the parenting books?
This article was written by Bek Day for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz