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The top 5 parenting fads of 2009

This is the time of year for lists, so I would like to present for your consideration 2009's five most over-hyped parenting stories:

1. Killer Zhu Zhus: Earlier this month, a consumer safety group warned that pretty much the only must-have Christmas toy -- Zhu Zhu pets -- were toxic. Except that, in the real world, the electric hamsters were harmless. The government finally ended the uproar, but not before the first holiday panic of the year set in.

2. Bad Parenting: The publication of Ayelet Waldman's "Bad Mother" and the success of sites such as made it cool for parents to brag about how they weren't crazy helicopter parents who really do care deeply about whether a piano recital goes perfectly. But being publicly laissez-faire about something as important as parenting is just as irritating as trying to win the best-parent-ever crown. There is a middle ground, but I'm guessing it doesn't sell books.

3. The Triumph of the Dad: Though the economy was sinking for much of the year, there was a boom market in stories about suddenly involved fathers who had turned their economic misfortunes into an opportunity to become model family men. And while some progress may have been made, it's not as if the PTA has suddenly been turned into a boy's club.

4. Parents on Facebook: Over the past year, Facebook has become the primary mode of communication for most of the parents I know. And -- at first -- I enjoyed seeing baby pics and the bon mots of my handful of Facebook friends. But as more parents have jumped on the bandwagon, I've become overwhelmed with the snapshots and kids-say-the-damnedest posts. Enough, already.

5. Evidence-Based Parenting: For a brief and shining moment, it looked like the publication of "NurtureShock" would change the way that parents (and parenting journalists) looked at the world. No longer would academic rigor in pre-school, perfectly obedient teenagers and gifted-and-talented testing in kindergarten be seen as unquestionably good. But parenting behaviors are hard to change, and I'm fully expecting that we're in for another year of glossy parenting magazine parroting convention wisdom.

Those are my five. Let's hear yours.

By Brian Reid |  December 23, 2009; 7:34 AM ET
Previous: The glories of impromptu baking | Next: On Christmas, seeking parental perspective


Didn't you contribute to the over-hyping of all these topics, Brian?

This calls for early intervention.....anything but "Sunflower's On Parenting Pregnancy".

Posted by: cheekymonkey | December 23, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Brian, what is your point with these? Are they things that you don't like? And some caught on and some didn't. What's the common theme?

I wish "evidence-based parenting" would have caught on. While I think there were some flaws in NutureShock, it was great to see a parenting book that really tried to look at the outcomes of parenting techniques/styles rather than just propose theories.

Posted by: dennis5 | December 23, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Brian, I continue to be amazed by your Nurtureshock obsession. Are these the first people to use scientific studies to write a book about parenting? (Try googling Benjamin Spock, Maria Montessori, T. Berry Brazelton, Rudolf Steiner, etc.) Perhaps this is the first parenting book whose authors gave you personal interviews so you could hype them on your blog one week before it appeared on the cover of Newsweek (owned by the Post).

This week's Nurtureshock blog post ("Privileged Kids Aren't In Peril – They're Just More Likely To Be Popular") is a ramble about the fact that while privileged kids get in more trouble than poorer kids but it's not because they are more wealthy; it's because they are more popular than their less wealthy peers. Or something like that. It's hard to tell since they don't even pretend to have any data or cite any sources.

Well, at least you properly categorized Nurtureshock as a fad (which seemed to last about a week). I would add blogging, free range kids, lojack for kids and large mirrors falling off the wall (my living room only) to my list of 2009 fads.

Posted by: KS100H | December 23, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

All that stuff is far more important than instilling a set of values in your children, teaching them to read, write a legible hand, speak properly and do math.

You betcha, Sven.

Posted by: rmlwj1 | December 23, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

If you don't like Facebook....then don't use it! Would you rather have your inbox flooded by pics of all your firend's kids? At least with FB you see them if you want to. And I don't get how you complaining about FB is an over-hyped parenting story?

Posted by: happydad3 | December 23, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Hey - what is with all the sunflower hate? So she's excited about her pregnancy - we all were, weren't we? So she has some ideas that you don't agree with - we all do, don't we? Personally I think the world would be a very dreary place with out the sunflowers and the jezebels to spark it up.

On topic - Fads indeed and short lived ones at that since none of these things made more than a blip on my radar. I am too busy with the daily reality of work and family to get too bent out of shape about Nurtureshock or robot hamsters that may or may not be toxic...on the other hand, I don't think Facebook really qualifies as a fad.

Posted by: VaLGaL | December 23, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Agree with whoever said that if you don't like Facebook, don't use it. Or apply a filter. And quit complaining. For some of us, it is the easiest way to communicate about our kids to friends/ relatives who live out of state.

Posted by: liledjen4901 | December 23, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

happydad: agreed. don't like it, don't use it. In any event, it's been a great way to keep up with friends (even those who live nearby!) - one friend's not on there...and so it's a little bit of a pain to send her pix, etc. I am friends with her husband, so well, he can show her, etc, but otherwise, i have to do an extra step...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 23, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

No hate towards Sunflower, but there was a funny post yesterday that I copied. My work may not be original, but I do stand with the sentiment, chill valgal.

FB is great, sometimes I have tons of time to be on it - sometimes none. It is still there when I get the time. If you don't like it, don't join - very simple.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | December 23, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Another over-hyped item is ADD. Now, there are undoubtedly some serious cases of organic ADD. However, so many of the examples I see are just a case of Adult Discipline Defict (ADD) rationalized as something out of their (the parents) control. Balderdash!!!

Posted by: jdrd58 | December 23, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

There is nothing worse than Facebook users who try to impose limits and talk smack about the amount of OTHER PEOPLES pictures and posts. Yes, it is over exposed but if you don't like it, stop using the site or de-friend the people who are "offending" your internet sensibilities. My daughters grandparents and other family and friends are not in this area and they are quite happy with me for the continuous pictures and postings.

Posted by: mjwies11 | December 23, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

facebook is a ridiculous narcissistic waste of time and twitter is 100 times worse. Hey people, you're just not that interesting, get over yourselves.

Posted by: pwaa | December 23, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I think FB is the most popular time suck on the internet right now. Give it time, and it'll be just another fad until the next grooviest, newest social networking application comes out.

I'm more of a email and blog kinda guy myself, but everybody has their favorites.

And personally, I would like to hear more about preggers Sunflower. The thing is, pregnant women are just plain fascinating. They have a happy glow to them, but sometimes a mean streak, (which is probably a healthy sign), and the closer they get to the due date the crazier they become. I think OP has several pregger posters, and a lot have already had their blog baby. What's not to like?

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 23, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Wacky, Maybe you should start attending baby showers with your wife, or in her stead. Chatty women sitting around talking ad nauseum about their pregnancies, the soon to be mother opening little outfits and squealing with delight.

To me they are events to be avoided at all costs, same goes for bridal showers. Sorry, that's just how I roll.

BTW, I know there are others that feel this way - they tell me in confidence. Don't be scared to voice your opinion. And please, if you love, love, lover baby and bridal showers - you should at least be happy people who don't want to be there have made excuses not to.

Perhaps that is a better topic for today, baby and bridal showers - beloved events or torture mechanisms?

Posted by: cheekymonkey | December 23, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I hope sunflower does not talk in baby talk. our next door neighbor talks babytalk even in adult conversations, absolutely nauseating........

Posted by: pwaa | December 23, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Well cheeky, now that you put it that way, I'm gonna tell you that, Yes, I'd much rather be around chatty women who squeal with delight than go to all the funerals I went to this year. I think I've been stuck in a rut watching far more family and friends go out than welcom the new ones coming in. Besides, it's always nice to hold a baby when you see your own growing up so fast. At least if not for anything else, when I wipe the drool off my arm from these beastly little critters, it reminds me how glad I am to be done with that part of parenting.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 23, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I hope sunflower does not talk in baby talk. our next door neighbor talks babytalk even in adult conversations, absolutely nauseating........

Posted by: pwaa

No, I don't talk in baby talk.


Thanks for defending! Yes, I have some crazy ideas but we all do and I am on here to learn and share my viewpoint. This blog would be dull if we all felt exactly the same way about everything.

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 23, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

We've been through those funeral heavy years before, it's tough. It's called the circle of life. Babies are a joy, I just don't want to be in a room full of chatty women saying ohhhh and ahhhh - it does nothing for me.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | December 23, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Hi Sunflower, just chewing on you, lol.

Posted by: pwaa | December 23, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

TheRealTruth is back with today’s coveted Poster of the Day award. It goes to happydad3 for quite rightly expressing the sentiment “If you don't like Facebook....then don't use it!” Well done.
TheRealTruth does not Facebook (yet?) but TheRealTruth wouldn’t think of complaining about those that do.

Posted by: TheRealTruth | December 23, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't even like the word "parenting" as a verb. We're raising kids. I've raised 3 generations - two adopted kids 7 years apart, then another set, 7 years younger, of two kids 3.5 years apart - 3+ generations. One seriously emotionally disabled. From no electronics to beepers to cellular phone to texting... And nothing really, really changes. We need to teach right from wrong, kind from unkind, thoughtful from selfish. And we have to teach them how to learn. We can't learn for them. Though we surely learn from them. Anyway, all of this hype is just that. Talk with and listen to your kids and you'll probably learn from them everything you need to know to raise them well.

Happy holidays.

Posted by: wemurph | December 23, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

cheeky: i so totally do not like bridal showers. when my DH's aunts offered to throw us one, i told them point blank that there would be no cutesy games, etc. just a little party. if i have to open the gifts, fine, but i'd rather not.
as for baby showers, i don't go as a rule, given the weirdness of them to me. as a jewish person, they just aren't done. i mean, we kept going back and forth about whether or not to buy a crib, but in the end we did, before the baby was born, but we kept it at my inlaw's house (which ended up to be fine, since we ended up having to move in there after the baby was born way early and we didn't have anywhere to go...our house was under construction...). So, well, the only time i went to one was when my husband's friend's wife had one and he really wanted us to go. otherwise, well, i just don't go, it's really creepy to me.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 23, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

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