Like most aspects of a society, parenting trends and values are always evolving. They ebb and flow as we learn new strategies for raising our children, and tinker with old traditions to update or personalize them.
Some trends—like putting cookies out for Santa—stand the test of time, becoming beloved childhood traditions. Others, like diaper-free potty training, seem to come and go. Here are seven parenting trends that we hope will finally die in 2018.
1. Pictures of kids screaming on Santa’s lap Parents have been plopping their kids onto Santa’s lap at the mall for decades. But the popularity of awkward family photos, combined with the ease of posting to social media, has birthed a new sub-tradition: Uploading shots of terrified, wailing toddlers to Instagram or Facebook. Every year, parents force rigid, red-faced and hysterical tots onto the lap of a giant, hairy stranger. Ostensibly, this is done because children are supposed to love Santa. But when all signs point to the contrary, maybe don’t do it? And while that $30 photo of your toddler screaming in terror may seem funny, it can be a bit sad and uncomfortable to your social media followers. Let your little guy wave to Santa from a distance, and save your $30.
2. Ridiculously elaborate cake-smash photo shoots Full disclosure: I did cake-smash photos with both my kids when they turned one. They turned out meh, and I probably won’t look at them again. At least, not more frequently than the sweet candid pics of my kids blowing out their candle or eating the wrapping paper off their gifts. Cake-smash photos started a few years back as a mostly simple affair with babes in diapers wearing pearls or a bowtie to match their little cake. Now, my goodness, they are like wedding photos! There are tipis and bunting and humongous, expensive balloons. There are tiny tiaras, tutus and flower crowns purchased off Etsy, ruined picnic blankets and sun flare. Not to mention $50 cakes bought just to be squashed, regurgitated and then rejected. Can we please go back to simpler times? (Or try the lazy mom trick: The donut smash!)
3. Potty training announcements on social media Social media is changing the way we communicate, in good ways and in bad. People can update followers on the minutiae of their lives in real time, which can be wonderful, if you're into it. But here’s the thing: Sharing is caring, unless it’s over-sharing. Yes, I’m talking about poop posts. Whether your potty training update comes with a visual or not, your toddler’s bowel movement milestone doesn’t need to be broadcast to your 1,000 followers. So let’s keep shots of you-know-what off Facebook next year.
4. Leprechaun traps If you didn't know this was a thing, it's a thing. Leprechaun traps are not dissimilar to Elf on a Shelf—the idea being to create a sense of wonder by suggesting magical creatures come into our home when we’re not looking. If Santa, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy are beloved fixtures in childhood lore, why can’t Scroogy the Elf and Lenny the Leprechaun join the team? Well, because, the roster is full. And leprechaun traps—homemade devices you create with your child to trap a leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day—are cute in theory, but utter nonsense in practice. You won’t actually ever trap a leprechaun. Plus, trapping even an imaginary creature seems cold-hearted. Let them live their little non-existent lives. And let’s stop turning every single holiday into an epic affair.
5. Celebrating half birthdays There was a time when half birthdays were only noted for kids who were born near a holiday—the idea being that that holiday unfairly overshadowed said child’s actual birthday. But, increasingly, half birthdays are being celebrated willy-nilly by any parent of any child born any time during the year. According to the Internet and Pinterest, this is a real thing. Here's the thing. Kids these days—and yes, I’m generalizing here—tend to be showered year-round with gifts and special treats. Valentine’s Day presents, Easter presents, gifts for passing swimming lessons, gifts for becoming a big brother, gifts from aunts and uncles “just because.” Call me a buzzkill, but do they really need an entire party to celebrate turning half a year older?
6. Push presents I hadn't heard of push presents until my husband promised me—in the delivery room as I was moaning and groaning and begging to be rendered unconscious—the “best push present ever.” Woohoo! Presents! Gimme gimme gimme! But wait: Why? A push present is literally just a present a spouse gives to his or her partner for giving birth. Because your newborn baby isn’t quite enough? And sure, when your “gift” never sleeps and or stops screaming, a piece of jewelry or new iPad does offer some consolation. But it’s also a weird trend, with a weird name (especially because some births don't involve any pushing), and it denotes a type of materialism that’s, well, unnecessary. A better gift might be an offer to do all the Saturday night wake-ups, and to hire a cleaning service.
7. The tooth fairy leaving anything more than $5 My niece’s friend got $20 for a tooth last month. Um, no. The national average is still under $5, and it needs to stay that way.