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Parenting stories I could do without

Note: Before I begin, I feel like I should say something about the "balloon boy" story, which is looking more and more like a hoax. But I just can't bring myself to find a thread of this story that has an impact on my life or yours. Far too much attention has been given to this already, so I will do my best to keep this blog balloon-boy-free.

Last week, the Post ran a lovely story about Tween Summit where reporter Monica Hesse discovered that there was one things tweens aren't doing: sexting. This comes despite a media obsession with the idea that kids today can't wait to text each other about sex. It got me thinking about other obsessions of the parenting press. Here are my top five over-blown parenting subjects:

  • At-Home Dads: I realize that this is the pot calling the kettle black, given that I've been tracking at-home dad mentions in the press for 7 years, but I don't think that at-home dads are newsworthy in just because they're at-home dads. If it's an economic story, fine. If it's a demographic story, fine. But spare me the breathless pieces about the guy around the corner who just happens to be the one at home.

  • Breastfeeding: Some women breastfeed, and they should be supported in their efforts. Some mothers don't, and they shouldn't be castigated. End of story. And yet, breastfeeding continues to be this flashpoint, with all kinds of judgment being passed and every scrap of scientific information being over-inflated. We can do without that.

  • Celebrity Parents: I don't care what kind of overcoat Suri Cruise prefers or how Madonna disciplines her kids. Ditto reality show parents. I've had it with them, too. Are you listening, People?

  • The Malevolent Effect of TV: I'm more than open to discussing whether television is rotting the brains of infants and toddlers, but I've had it with TV being held up the unmitigated evil turning elementary schoolers and teens into couch potatoes. I came of age in the era of cable television and spend many an afternoon watching MTV (lured by the hope that maybe the *next* video wouldn't be lame), just like the rest of my peers. I'm no worse for the wear.

  • Prodigies: My youth was bookended by the rise of Michael Jackson at one end and the flameout of tennis standout Jennifer Capriati at the other end, so I operate under the assumption that every youngest-ever golfer/violinist/medical school graduate is having their childhood robbed.

As always, I'm curious about what you all think: What needs to be eliminated from our discourse around parenting?

By Brian Reid |  October 18, 2009; 7:28 AM ET
Previous: The Sketchy Science on Spanking | Next: The fine line between fright and fun


"What needs to be eliminated from our discourse around parenting?"


"I came of age in the era of cable television and spend many an afternoon watching MTV (lured by the hope that maybe the *next* video wouldn't be lame), just like the rest of my peers. I'm no worse for the wear."

How do you know?

Posted by: jezebel3 | October 19, 2009 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Vaccine debates. Waste of time.

Appeals to obscure traditional cultures for justification of extreme parenting practices because their native historical wisdom is by definition better than our artificial modern culture. If the Ogobogo tribe in Eastern Ugumbia is so much smarter than we are because they swaddle kids until they are three, have them pee on the ground, or nurse until age twelve, go live there. Traditional cultures live without toothpaste or toilet paper and trade their daughters for cows, should we do that too?

Now I'll get someone writing in to tell us that toilet paper causes cancer or something...

Posted by: di89 | October 19, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: jezebel3 | October 19, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

So the goal of today's conversation is to come up with stuff we don't want to talk about?

Boy, I expect today's topic will really drive blog traffic for the OP blog...

strait off a cliff!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | October 19, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Stay at home moms versus working moms. Enough already.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | October 19, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

The "mommy wars." All the moms I know in real life are far to involved with their own lives to worry about whether some other mom is working or staying home.

Posted by: floof | October 19, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

i actually liked hearing about Madonna's child-raising ideas. I recall reading that she is very strict about her child cleaning up her messes. Her thing is "if you don't clean this up, I'm throwing it out." I'm thinking of modifying that to "I'm you don't clean this up I'm going to get it to a child that will take better care of it." So far I've only gone as far as ". . . I'll put the stuff into time out."

If Madonna's kids have to clean up after themselves, then my kids should too.

Posted by: captiolhillmom | October 19, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

YOUR experience being the norm/control- so since you have a career, etc. despite the fact that you wasted time watching tv as a teenager, then it is no longer worthy of debate?

Plus - even if you came of age during cable, isn't "media-use" a bigger issue than just tvs? With internet, texting, etc. - the issue becomes bigger every year.

For those of us with children that span more than a few years (from K to college) there are real societal changes - so it is an issue that isn't frozen in your teenage-years time frame.

Posted by: Amelia5 | October 19, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Your article makes sense. The scientific studies on tv use, etc. are blown out of proportion or skewed by media... what is important is lost. Excellent point made here: How Much Television is Too Much? Science Weighs In Huffpost -

Posted by: MarjieKnudsen | October 19, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Capitolhillmom: yes, i've reaad that Madonna is extremely strict with her kids - they're not allowed to have cake at parties (or any carbs maybe ever?). Stuff like that. Apparently she thinks that her celebrity and also the money can be corrupting, so she's trying to balance it out.

YEs, there are tons of topics that are so annoying. But this blog is more than about what the topic is today, I think. We can (and do) change the topic from time to time. :)

What don't I want to hear about? Hmmm...there's little I guess - as I said above, well, we can always make it more about what we want to talk about. But there are some things that don't need to be discussed anymore. You guys have a good list up there.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 19, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

What needs to be eliminated? Studies on Parenting, stop promoting them Brian - please!

Posted by: cheekymonkey | October 19, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Off topic-anyone see Where the Wild Things Are? Saw it Saturday with my nephew and SIL. He is old enough and didn't seem scared but curious of other kids found it scary?

Posted by: sunflower571 | October 19, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Wild Things--All I had to see was the first two seconds of the trailer and I guessed that they'd give the kid a backstory about issues with single mom. I'm surprised nobody is complaining about that. He's also way too old. In the book he's about five and just being a run of the mill pain, not having some deep psychological conflict.

What's next, a backstory about Harold and the subconcious meaning of his choice of a purple crayon instead of blue?

Posted by: di89 | October 19, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

What's next, a backstory about Harold and the subconcious meaning of his choice of a purple crayon instead of blue?

Posted by: di89 | October 19, 2009 11:35 AM

That could be fun! DH's favorite color is purple, and we'd enjoy picking apart the theories.

Posted by: SueMc | October 19, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Amen to 1 and 2. I'd say the same to 3, but is it really hard to avoid? If you're reading People magazine, that's probably the least vapid thing you can find in there.

My main problem is any topic where there's a scientific study and people refute it with "well, in my experience...." (Ahem, #4.) If a study says that older children in families have higher IQs *on average*, I don't need to hear about your brilliant younger brother. Or how bike helmets must be unnecessary because you went over the handlebars without one and survived.

Of course, that's no worse than the people who read that kids who eat a pound of broccoli a day have an average of 0.02 fewer illnesses per year than those that don't and accuse others of bad parenting for not following the "recommendation."

Posted by: hbc1 | October 19, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Anything citing scientific goobily gop. One minute this study is saying this and the next minute is a study refuting the original study.

Posted by: starrena | October 19, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I could do without all the studies on things I need to do before my baby is born to make sure he or she is absolutely brilliant, flash cards at birth to make sure he or she gets into the best collage, etc. What the heck, maybe I'll just read "War and Peace" to my eggs to guarantee my kid won't fall behind in school.

Posted by: StrollerMomma | October 19, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

The person who responds with the story about the smarter younger brother often is not trying to refute the statement about the average, but is trying to keep people from misapplying the average to every case, saying that every older child is smarter than the younger sibling.

Posted by: di89 | October 19, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

How about if a person is digging their heels in because they don't want to listen to any other opinions, well, then, say your piece and go. Don't argue about it, don't discuss it, if your mind is made up, it's made up.
If you want a discussion, to discuss many different aspects of an issue, discuss it. If you're just posting to hear yourself post (so to speak) then, well, I don't need to hear it.
Oh, wait, this applies to the rest of life as well...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 19, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

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