By Melissa Ford
I recently watched a video clip of Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman, a couple with three sons, who stumbled into parenting like scores of us do - with many wrong expectations. How do we acquire these faulty expectations? Griscom and Volkman say that our skewed perceptions are the result of parenting taboos, those unmentionable “truths” that parents, from the beginning of time, won’t discuss.
But Griscom and Volkman, co-creators of the parenting website babble.com, feel that being open and honest actually helps people be better parents. Their theory is that candor would eliminate the “happiness gap” (see below), which exists as “the result of walking into parenting with the wrong expectations” vs. having the “right expectations.” They even say that “more taboos exist around parenting than sex.” I think they could be right. . .
Below is a list of parenting taboos created by this couple. Would parenting have been easier for you if some of these subjects had been discussed? What taboos would you add to the list below?
#1 - You can’t say you didn’t fall in love with your baby in the first minute. (I struggled with postpartum depression the first six months after my son’s birth.)
#2 - You can’t talk about how lonely having a baby can be. (58% of mothers report feelings of loneliness. 67% of those are most lonely when their kids are 0 - 5. Less than 50% live near family members.)
#3 - You can’t talk about your miscarriage.
#4 - You can’t say your “average happiness” has declined. (Check out the video clip below for a more in-depth description of “average happiness” vs “transcendent happiness.”)
Parenting Taboos I’d like to add:
#5 - You can’t admit you judge your child (or be subject to judgment yourself).
#6 - You can’t talk about how, at times, it would be easier to parent without your partner.
#7 - You can’t say (but you might think it), “What did I do to deserve a kid like this?”
#8 - You can’t admit you don’t know what you’re doing. (Never, ever mention to anyone that you’re winging it!)
For a good laugh at the ups and downs of parenting, watch Griscom and Volkman's video on Ted.com.