Saturday, May 17, 2008

So someone explain to me how fear-based parenting became the norm. 
Use the wrong crib and your kid will die. Use the wrong carseat and your kid will die. (Install it yourself, without getting it checked over by a cop, and your kid will die.) Use fewer than 15 monitors, with sound, video and I don't know, infrared, and guess what. 
Parenting classes and magazines seem to cover the gamut from "how your baby can drown in half an inch of water" to "how your baby can spontaneously combust if you stick a teddy bear in the crib."
(On that: If we're not supposed to put toys, bumpers, blankets, pillows, etc. in an infant's crib, why then does every single store selling cribs display them chock full of darling blankie sets, matching bumpers and plush menageries? A little consistency, it's all I ask.)
Now hey, I'm not suggesting these precautions are all bad. I'm certainly not suggesting throwing caution to the wind and letting the baby drive the car, say, or giving the kid shrimp in peanut sauce for the first solid feeding. But there's a difference between keeping parents informed, and beating them over the head with worst-case scenarios until they're afraid to make a decision without calling the pediatrician at midnight or haunting their parenting boards of choice until some other poster gives them an answer.
Which even still would be acceptable if it didn't seem like a relatively recent trend. Allow me to sum up every single derisive older parent at once: "I guzzled martinis and smoked cigars throughout every single pregnancy. We put all of you to sleep on your stomachs. We fed all of you formula. We didn't have these fancy car seats or play yards or sleep sacks. And you all turned out fine."
First of all, boomers and Greatest Generationers: At least our husbands change diapers. Second, I may disagree with those practices (as much as I miss martinis) but I like the attitude. We shouldn't have to stress this so much. Just keeping your kid clothed and fed -- even despite his nifty new trick of sticking his fingers in his mouth to make himself puke -- as well as keeping yourself clothed and fed, is enough stress. We don't need to add to that by giving in to the paranoia. C'mon, if we're spending this much time freaking out about whether we're doing everything wrong, we're probably doing something right. Right?

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