Spend enough time on the internet and chatting in parenting forums and it can start to feel like everything you're doing is wrong. Cosleeping? Wrong. Crib? Wrong. Are you using "time out" as a punishment? You're permanently damaging your child. Letting them "cry it out"? You may as well call DCFS now because your kid would be better off being raised by a Honey Badger. And dear god, did you give in to their tears and give your kid candy without first making sure it didn't contain High Fructose Corn Syrup? I hope you enjoy interviews about why your child ended up with the home decorating sensibilities of Ed Gein.
Hyperbole? Yes. But this, perhaps a bit exaggerated for comedic effect, is how I feel lately.
I would say something like "This is what we've come to." but I have a feeling we've always been this way. We just have more effective ways to communicate now. The internet is a giant magnifying glass focused directly on our collective parenting neurosis. We feel like we need to tell each other what we're doing right as parents and point out what other people are doing wrong. I'm no saint myself. I adamantly and openly detest the decision to refuse to vaccinate. Especially when said parents tell me to "do the research" and all I can think of is "You mean four years of undergraduate study followed by medical school, a PHD in immunology or epidemiology, and selection to a board of certified physicians that make recommendations based off of multiple, peer reviewed studies? Is that the kind of research you mean? Nah… I'm ok. I'm not going to do the research. I guess I'm just a lazy, horrible parent." I digress…
See. It's so easy. While I was typing up my rant against the anti-vaccination "movement", my daughter tried to remove a plastic plug protector with her mouth. With. Her. Mouth. Which brings me back to my original point: we're all doing it wrong—yet somehow the human race continues.
I don't know… I'm relatively new at this, but here's my unsolicited, un-authoritative and overly generic advice (opinion): Start from a place of love. If the decision you are making, or the action you are taking is rooted in a place of love, then that's a damn good start. Next, realize that there may not be a "right" decision, or that the "right" decision may be different for different people. I've found that in most cases there is a spectrum of decisions with benefits and drawbacks to every single one. Some are more drastic than others (cough... cough… I'm looking at you measles). Fact is, the vast majority of our kids are going to survive well beyond any modicum of control we have now, no matter how much HFC we give them. And yes, some auxiliary things we do now can give our kids small to large statistical advantages throughout life. I'm putting my money on love. In a lot of ways, by today's standards my parents were f*ck ups, but they loved me and they paid attention to me. When they messed up, they reevaluated and changed course. They didn't try to always be right. They strove to be less wrong. I consider them the best parents a kid could ask for, and I hope every day that my parental mess ups are as wrapped in love as theirs were. Love and adaptability—I couldn't ask for anything more. Well that and an MMR.
Striving to be less wrong,
P. S. One last hypocritical-parental critique on my part: I am a supporter of breast feeding. I think moms should breast feed as long as, and wherever they want. Still... maybe don't put a picture of it on the cover of Time Magazine. If you think the mainstream media is as cruel as it gets, you've obviously forgotten which ring of hell Junior High resides on.
Thanks Time Magazine for the image. Here's a link to the story it's associated with.