8 Parenting Terms That Drive Me To The Brink Of Insanity

by Alexis Barad-Cutler

If you're new to the parenting game, and you're finding yourself a bit lost in terminology, I don't blame you. Language is an evolutionary thing that morphs and adapts to describe shifts in culture and ways of thinking. If there's one topic for which there is an ever-changing approach, it is parenting. So it's no surprise that the terms are often evolving, too, sometimes to the point where the meaning is no longer clear. There are so many parenting terms that drive me to the brink of insanity, honestly. It doesn't matter whether the phrases in question are ones I've known since I became a parent six years ago, or ones I've only become familiar with recently. In my opinion, at least, they're all kind of ridiculous.

In fact, I think it is unfair to charge a new mother with having to learn an entirely new lingo in addition to having to learn how to help a new human thrive outside of her womb. You feel me? Show up to Mom Group thinking you're a Scrunchy Mom because you still like to wear your scrunchie from middle school when you wash your face at night, and you'll risk being the recipient of some behind-your-back gossip. (Oh, by the way, new moms can also be Mean Girls, but that's an old term that hasn't changed, thank God.)

Personally, I'm more about saying exactly what you mean,and occasionally playing with language. I think playful language can be fun. But IMO (that's a fun way of saying "in my honest opinion") some of the parenting terminology has become downright insane and if I get wrapped up too much in it, it drives me to insanity, too. Here are a few winners:

"One & Done"

But are you, really? I can't stand this phrase, because it completely undermines the effort it takes to gestate, birth, and raise a single human being. I get that it is a "cute" way to say that you are only planning on having one child, but I think it is fair to also say that you are far from "done" in any regards when it comes to anything related to child rearing. Oh no. There is so much left in store with your "one." And woe to anyone else who tells you, the parent who is "only having one," that you are a "one and done" parent, because raising any number of children is an insane amount of work.

Some would say having just one child is even harder than multiples, because at least with multiples they can entertain each other.

"Cry It Out"

If there's one parenting term that incites more debates than any other, it is this one. Watch it come up on a parenting message board and get ready to sit back with a big bowl of popcorn as the heated debates get ridiculously ugly.

The other day, a poor, unsuspecting new mom posted one of those, "I'm so tired, I don't know what to do. Should I cry it out with my 4-month-old?" queries. Within minutes, 100 people had commented with various finger-wagging, threatening, mom-shaming, and told-you-so types of responses. This parenting term doesn't even mean how it sounds it means. "Cry it out" can mean letting your baby cry in their crib for "significant" periods of time, or it could mean letting them cry in small increments. But that doesn't matter, because there are trolls just waiting in the wings to pounce on any new mom looking for insight on the topic so they can spew their judgmental "advice."

"Free-Range Parenting"

No matter how many times I look up this parenting term, or how often it is explained to me, I can't help but picture the organic chicken breasts at Whole Foods when I hear it.

Apparently, by definition, Free-Range Parenting is totally my situation, but I didn't purposely adopt it as a "parenting style." I just want time to get my own crap done, or have conversations with my mom friends at the playground, so I let the kids do their thing so long as no one gets hurt. And honestly, I've tried to be a "helicopter mom," hovering on top of my children to make sure they are OK every second of every day, but there was no way that particular brand of parenting was in any way sustainable, for me. Staring at my child intensely as he learns to navigate the super safe baby slide doesn't interest me and I seem to lack an internal "mom alarm bell." So far, my kids have escaped without much injury.

"Introducing Solid Food"

This one makes me LOL. Seriously, are you making a big introduction between "food" and your baby? I imagine that would look something like: "Here Baby, there's been someone I've been wanting you to meet for a long time, but I didn't think you were ready. I wanted to wait until the moment was perfect. And since you seem to be at the right place and time for it, well, here goes. I'd like to introduce you to your new food: smashed avocado!"

My partner and I didn't do any grand introducing of solid food when our babies were ready to upgrade their diets. When our babies turned 4-months-old, we started giving them tastes of whatever we were eating (per our doctor's suggestion), and gradually the tastes got bigger until we started feeding them small meals of what they seemed to like eating (and could eat easily). No formal intro necessary.


A blowout, in parenting speak, means the kind of diaper situation in which the poop has taken up all the space a diaper can accommodate and thus has escaped into the clothing area. It is awful, and sometimes emotionally scarring, and usually happens when you are without an extra change of clothes or at that friend's house with the super expensive off-white couch.

But the reason I absolutely loathe this term is that it has forever tainted what was once a lovely once-in-a-while treat at a hair salon because I come from curly-haired stock. Getting my hair blown out is something that happens maybe once a year, and now this term has taken half of the joy out of that for me.

Silky, Crunchy, Scrunchy, Any Term That Describes A Parfait Or Hair Tie To Explain Motherhood Style

Listen, I get how terms can be helpful in creating a shorthand for describing a parenting approach. Like, without going into too much detail, I can say that I am a Scrunchy Mom (i.e. I breastfed, but I had a hospital birth, and I used cloth and disposable diapers). But you guys, is it so very necessary to put ourselves in these distinct camps?

Not to get all "when I was your age," but six years ago, when I had my first son, we didn't have all these terms and it was still pretty easy to self-identify if we needed to without using words like "silky."

"Fourth Trimester"

I think we are allowed three trimesters, OK? Three. We suffered, yes. I am not denying anyone that fact. I know I suffered seven whole months of uncontrollable vomiting, but let's not try to milk this trimester thing. There is no fourth trimester. It's either "postpartum" or "the newborn phase."

And yeah, it sucks balls. Your body is an effing nightmare. I had a gash across my stomach from my C-section and I bled heavily into extra large pads for six weeks, but I'm calling it what it was: postpartum. Adding a trimester is just confusing, and a slippery slope. Because when will it end? What if we call the following three months the Fifth Trimester? And so on and so forth until everything is called something relative to our pregnancies and we never have any other kind of identity. Next thing you know, we're in menopause and we're calling it the 55th trimester or whatever (math, sorry). No thanks, not for me.


So all these years, I thought I was just feeding my infant in my bed and sometimes falling asleep while doing so. Most nights he would sleep in my bed and nurse whenever he wanted. If someone asked, I said I was "co-sleeping." But no, this was not co-sleeping because, technically, co-sleeping is that thing you do when your kid sleeps in your room but not necessarily in your bed (that's "bed-sharing"). By today's parenting terms, I was "breastsleeping" (i.e. nursing while bed-sharing) and seriously, I just can't keep up anymore. Done.

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