Why Modern Parenting Is Designed to Drive You Completely Crazy​

conflicting parenting advice

Have you ever thought of parenting as a “fear-based industry”? I’m not sure I would have arrived at that exact term on my own, but when I read this interview with actress Emily Blunt, I found myself nodding in total recognition when she used it to describe the modern approach to raising children. “There used to be one book that everyone read, now there’s How to Raise a Gluten-Free Baby, How to Raise a Scientific Baby,” Blunt says. “It’s insanity!” It’s true, don’t you think? Parents today are faced with a million different passionate arguments for why we’re completely screwing up our kids by not adhering to whatever precise child-rearing methodology is currently generating the hottest Internet search terms.

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My youngest son is 6, and I already feel like the advice for pregnant women has shifted all over the place multiple times since my big-belly days. Tuna fish is one of those topics I never feel like I fully understand: are we supposed to eat it because of those omega-3 fatty acids that help our babies grow big smart brains, or are we supposed to avoid it altogether because of those rising mercury levels that fry our babies’ brains?

Deli meat was mostly a non-issue the last time I was pregnant, now I realize I was practically playing Russian roulette every time I ate a ham sandwich, thanks to the possibility of listeriosis. Don’t go thinking your cantaloupe craving is healthier than packing on the pounds from Ben & Jerry’s, either, because that’s the EXACT fruit that caused the 2011 food illness outbreak that was the deadliest in nearly a century.

Of course, you read that and it sounds absolutely terrifying: THE THIRD DEADLIEST OUTBREAK IN ALMOST 100 YEARS HOLY SHIT BURN ALL THE CANTALOUPE BURN IT IN HELL’S HOTTEST FLAMES AND DO IT NOW. But acknowledging the awfulness of dying from a food borne-illness (very painful, very preventable, very sad) doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put it in context: something like 3 dozen people died from infected fruit that year. Meanwhile, more like 3,000 died in car accidents. Are pregnant women warned not to drive?

Pregnancy truly seems like one big horrible game of Choose Your Own Adventure (where whatever food/activity/medicine/household toxin you expose yourself to next leads directly to pediatric cancer), but that’s nothing compared to how you can screw up your kids once they’re outside of your body. Did you sleep with them, or let them cry it out? Either way you risked death and are almost certainly now raising a sociopath. Let’s hope he’s the handsome, humble, convincingly charming type like Dexter.

More From The Stir: 10 Snarky Responses to Unwanted Parenting Advice

Assuming you manage not to cause too much permanent damage, physically or psychologically, during the baby and toddler years, you’re bound to drop the ball once they’re older. You thought standing in the baby food aisle contemplating the screaming cacophony of branded choices before you was bad enough (oh, did you go with the sustainably-harvested organic goo hand-squeezed by indigenous tribes? FAIL. You should have been premasticating your meals in order for Junior to get the maximum amount of macronutrients and rich microflora), wait until your kid comes home from school one day crying about a bully and you have to decide whether to tell him to take the high road or kick that little jerk right in his pint-sized frank and beans.

Did you vaccinate your kids against the flu? BAD MOM. Teaching kids to wash, wash, wash is the only way to prevent disease! NO WAIT LET THEM GET DIRTY EXPOSURE TO ALLERGENS AND BACTERIA LOWERS THE RISK OF AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS. Did you let them play outside? Good mom! Free play nurtures creativity and research shows that too much screen time can impact social interaction and HANG ON YOU DIDN’T ACTUALLY TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THEM FOR A MINUTE DID YOU, WHAT KIND OF MONSTER DELIBERATELY INVITES THE POSSIBILITY OF ABDUCTION AND SEXUAL ASSAULT?

The bottom line is, as a parent, no matter what you decide to do — seriously, hear me on this: no matter what you decide to dosomeone somewhere is going to be convinced you’re doing it wrong. Going back to Emily Blunt, she has the right attitude on how to preserve your sanity as you navigate your various options:

I haven’t read anything. I’m just letting (my baby) do her own thing.

Yes. They said it best in everyone’s favorite '80s-era Cold War sci-fi movie starring Matthew Broderick, really:

How do you deal with the over-saturation of advice and hysteria in parenting?

 

Image via mislav-marohnic/Flickr

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