Ever feel constantly inundated with tips and tricks for raising kids? WELL, it turns out there’s a reason for that: sharing parenting tips is just part of what humans do.
This piece from The Atlantic compares and contrasts parenting advice from today (don’t let your kids see a screen until they’re two!) to parenting advice from the 1900s (“Pregnant mothers should avoid thinking of ugly people, or those marked by any deformity or disease; avoid injury, fright and disease of any kind.”) and examines why parents are so hung up on all that information in the first place (note: the first few paragraphs are kind of ehhhhh but things get interesting with “If you’re a fan of peculiar history…”):
Parents are still all too aware of what they don’t know. Fear still sells. The mortality rate of American babies today is infinitesimal compared to any other time in history. We no longer worry about diphtheria or a mother’s argument with a neighbor poisoning her breast milk. So we find different things to worry about. Things that even the most exhaustively detailed books of yesteryear would never even have considered.
Should drop-side cribs be banned? Which chemicals might be seeping into my child’s liver through the plastic in her sippy cup? What’s worse for baby: formula feeding, or just directly feeding it lead paint chips?
Dr. Apple offers a calmer point of view. “I’m a historian, not a healthcare practitioner, but from my experience and readings, I would say that the basic rule would be ‘everything in moderation.’ Anything done to excess can be potentially harmful; for example the difference between a daily multivitamin and a mega-dose of vitamins.”
There is one thing we tend to forget with our babies as we look down on them in their cribs, hoping the wispy rise and fall of their chests will continue even after we look away, and genuinely afraid that it won’t. Babies want to live. They want to thrive. No matter what new wave in parenting washes over them, they adapt. In 100 years historians may be disgusted by our use of diapers, and click their tongues over our ignorance of subatomic particles as they relate to cognitive development. They will be around to judge our folly because they survived it, just as our grandparents survived the incomplete information their parents had.
Head over to The Atlantic to read the rest!