Parenting: Everything You're Doing is Wrong | Ask Your Dad Blog

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Parenting: Everything You're Doing is Wrong


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 wrongyet 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,

Dad

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.

13 comments:

  1. The Internet has created a whole instantly-available panel of peers, all feeling as if they are experts, just because someone's listening. In parenting, something unique and personal, we've crowd-sourced it too much. And unfortunately, there's no going back.

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    1. It's a double edged sword. I learn a lot from the internet and am grateful for places like r/parenting and r/daddit and other parent boards. At the same time, it can be a little overwhelming. Everytime our daughter is sick we rin straight to Doctor Goodle and EVERY TIME Doctor Google tells us that our daughter has some horrific disease. I think the hardest thing is that when everyone is telling us everything is wrong, the things we may actually need to change can get lost in the noise.

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  2. excellent! I am so happy that my grandkid(s) have such wonderful, loving parents.

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  3. Even though there were lots of laughs, I think the tears outnumbered the laughs on this one: Tears of joy, love, gratitude, and just being so proud of you. Thank you for making my bumbling so beautiful.

    p.s. With her mouth?!? She is a creative little character.

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  4. I agree to start from a place of love. Parent the best you know how. Re-evaluate and change paths as needed. Show more love, kindness and patience. My only advice from years of DCFS and working with teens is this, children needs a parent not a friend. They will have plenty of friends, don't try to be the cool parent try to be the good parent the one that loves their child and wants what is best for them even if the child can't see it at the time. So again it's all back to Love!! (I'm always scared to post on your stuff because you write so well and are a critical on spelling, etc)

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    1. I agree completely. Although, sometimes I pretend to like Yo Gabba Gabba so Lily will think I'm cool :)

      And please don't be afraid to comment! I promise to never correct your spelling. To be honest, I'm a horrible speller. I have Stevie proof read everything I write, and she finds tons of errors!

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  5. "Eeeeeevery thing you know is wrong/black is white, up is down, and short is long/and everything you thought was just so important doesn't matter..."

    (sorry, that's just what popped into my head...I listened to a lot of Weird Al as a kid)

    Great read. You make a lot of good points. I only have a couple of things I'd change/add. First, while I agree with your sentiment on vaccinations, you should still *do your research*...it's good to have a decent understanding of what is going into your kid's body, and science has been wrong before. If it's well established (e.g. MMR), it's probably safe. Drug companies have a scary amount of leverage/clout with politicians, and I'm at least somewhat more aware of newer treatments that haven't been vetted quite as well.

    Second, I'd just add that you should trust your instincts. Thousands of years of evolution has instilled a number of things in us that have been turned upside down (co-sleeping, for one). If it just plain feels right, again, *do your research*, but instincts are often true.

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  6. Yes, we are all doing it wrong and permanently damaging our kids. God, the pressure.

    I'm reading a book now about parenting that I actually like. It's called "Bringing up Bebe." Don't let the obnoxious name fool you- I am definitely not a Francophile. It's written by a former Wall St Journal writer who gets laid off, moves to France and has a child. It sort of outlines the differences between European and American parenting. The basic point of it is that we are all going crazy trying to do "the best" parenting- and we need to just relax.

    Great post!

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    1. I've had a couple people recommend that book. I'll check it out. Thanks for reading, and thanks for the compliment! It means a lot coming from you. I really admire your blog.

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  7. Great blog, the more parents I meet, the more I realise just how unique children really are... and also how quickly parents of older children forget the nuances of what younger babies were like (i.e. at different stages of development and issues it presents).

    We tried all the textbook techniques, 9 mths of agony until we moved to co-sleeping after reading blogs on Sensitive Children by Dr Sears, and our lives turned around overnight, lieing next to my baby and seeing her finally calm and happy.. it just felt so right it was so obvious.

    Dont get me wrong, it's still hard, but life is much easier if you stop fighting and just let your baby lead you.

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  8. I realize this is not your vaccination post but I've just discoverd your blog and am loving it and so I'm adding another vaccination idea. We vaccinate just not all of them and certainly not on the recommeded schedule. I breast fed (and stayed home until the baby was 4) our 3 boys (11, 10, & 8) so didn't feel particularly eager to vaccinate. We only began when the kid was crawling and we only did Tetanus and Dyptheria (pertussis does scare me as a vaccine and not as a disease) then we slowly moved to MMR. We managed to get actual chicken pox from a mennonite family by deliberately exposing our decidedly non-mennonite kids to them when we spotted the scabs on a mennonite kid at plant nursery. We've just finished polio(did I mention that our kids are 11,10 & 8?) We will do Hep B but only when sexual activity is an actual possibility... anyway I'd just like to add that vaccinating slowly and thoughtfully is also an option. I also only do one shot per visit. My pediatrician who puts up with my weird ways was worried that my kids would be scared of needles... so far they just think the lollipops are awesome and find the prick pretty un-eventful. Last comment- I HATE co-sleeping- I like evenings to myself, alcohol, and sex with my husband... so we sleep trained (using Dr. Marc Weissbluth's book "Healthy Sleep Habits; Happy child) We didn't sleep train our first born until he was 14 mos... once we trained him and his little brother all of our lives have been much much better- saved our marriage!! Still have 3 boys who hop into bed by 8, few nightmares (maybe 5 a year between the 3 f 'em) and glorious adult-centered evenings to ourselves!!!

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    1. Arian, you sound like a fantastic parent! Actively involved and loving. Reading back over this post, I could have taken a more nuanced approach to the vaccination issue. Like you said, it was not intended to be a post about vacs, but still... I kind of lumped everyone together. I think an alternative schedule for vaccinations is perfectly fine.

      And yes! My wife and I cherish our evenings to ourselves also. I feel like my time spent not being a parent allows me to be a better parent the other 98% of the time :)

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment!

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  9. You are too funny! Love the blog! My children are now in their teens. Good kids but not perfect (just like my husband and I). Do I regret doing some of the things I did? Certainly...but "it is what it is" and I won't look back and kick myself. Building a foundation of love, patience and hope is what I want them to pass on to their children and they can only do that if we teach it to them. We will all look back and sometimes cry and sometimes laugh. We're all doing the best that we can. I will continue to read the blog because I need a good laugh!

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