Mainstream Parenting: A Shelter in the Mommy Blog Storm

As a twenty-something married slacker, I can only observe this parenting thing from the outside, but what I see appears to be a mirror image of high school. It’s subject to the cliques, the cults of personality, and the pecking orders we associate with high school. There is a constant cycle of judgment and criticism over if you have the correct cycles of breast-feeding, sleeping, eating, the  right stroller, the right crib, the right stool consistency! Everyone just seems to be in this mad race to be the crowned the most attentive, most awesome parent on the block. Indeed, the author of “Queen Bees and Wannabes”, the non-fiction book that eventually became the movie Mean Girls, felt it necessary to also pen a guide-book for parents specifically on dealing with other parents.

I find disconcerting the existence of people like Jenny McCarthy, who want to replace routine immunization with gluten-free diets. There was a recent case of a mother kidnapping her son to avoid the chemotherapy that would allow him to live. What’s actually terrifying about these stories is the amount of controversy among parents over whether the parents are doing the right thing. There shouldn’t be any controversy! This isn’t a clash between a mother’s love and the harsh establishment of experts. Kids have actually died from this kind of monkeying around in the face of hard medical facts. However, it’s tough to find a source of parenting info on the internet that doesn’t discredit medical professionals, or professionals of any kind because apparently years of study in a subject can’t hold a candle to women’s intuition. If you love science and you love your kids, where do you go for off-the-cuff parenting advice?

Mainstream Parenting Resources may sound a little non-descript, but who needs a cute name when you’re trying to supply actual information? My wife found it while surfing on Kirtsy. The author, Estherar, is a part-time family physician from Israel who is also the proud parent of 3 children. I love how she takes to task some of the assumptions we make on what’s good for children. One post called “Evolution is not an excuse” picks apart the argument that so-called “natural” forms of parenting are the best because they’ve been developed over thousands of generations by our ape ancestors.

“…our environment today is radically different: most of us live in well-protected houses, many live in climates colder than the African Savanna and use soft beds and heavy covers. The chance of a baby dying of SIDS/SUDI is now greater than being carried off by wolves. Furthermore, the evolution of human medicine and ethics means we no longer tolerate babies dying for preventable reasons. What once was the fittest solution may no longer be the case”

Of course, you can’t attack the columns of modern parenting without some criticism. Estherar responds to many of the comments on her blog, even the ones with profanity. Some people might consider her a little cheeky, but that’s what happens when you bring your knife of anecdotal evidence to peer-reviewed study gun-fight. I realize that no one can be completely prepared for parenting. There’s always something that’ll throw you a curveball. But if you like to take your advice from someone who has an actual degree and can save your life in an airplane at 50,000 feet, look no further than Mainstream Parenting Resources.

4 thoughts on “Mainstream Parenting: A Shelter in the Mommy Blog Storm

  1. Jessica

    There was an article or small rant in the Westender today about the same thing – bloggers making child-rearing “trendy”, and a separate rant ending with “All drivers need to take a test for their license, but anyone can be a parent.”

    Scary truths!

  2. Melissa Quinn

    Like my mother before me, I read a couple pregnancy and parenting books, got really anxious and worried about being perfect, and then the baby arrived and I didn’t have time for that nonsense anymore. The books didn’t mention a thing about some of the physical indicators of labor or my vertical learning curve as a new mother, except to be vaguely encouraging and comforting. What the?!? Not useful. At all. My MIL was very helpful but at a certain point, I even wanted her to can it. I talk with other mothers to cull ideas, but in the end, it’s been ingenuity and persistance and honest good will that got me through some of the tougher moments. Knock on wood, I know there will be more.

  3. Amber

    The truth is that parents are responsible for making parenting decisions. Period. Not experts, or scientists, or those with special training. Experts and scientists have made a lot, a LOT, of very bad recommendations. 50 years ago many doctors recommended against breastfeeding because it was ‘unscientific’ and therefore inferior. Or they routinely removed children’s tonsils to prevent problems later. Now we know they were wrong.

    Plus, you can find experts and scientists who disagree. Not on every issue, but on many issues. How do you know who to trust? You don’t always. And so you’re left to rely on your own judgment. I think it’s dangerous to completely disregard your instincts and judgment in parenting.

    I take scientific evidence into account, which is why my children are vaccinated. It’s also why I breastfeed and use car seats. I also consider my own intuition, which is why I use slings that Consumer Reports says I shouldn’t. Or bring my babies into my bed to nurse so that we can all get some sleep. My kids, my call.

  4. Estherar

    Thank you for your kind words!

    Amber – a parent always has a right to make decisions regarding their children (up to the point they’re not outright neglecting or abusing them, naturally). My beef is with self-styled ‘experts’ who push a very specific parenting agenda while claiming the science is on their side. Well, I’ve looked at the science, and it doesn’t say what they claim it does.

    The primary purpose of the blog is to collect resources (what I write and links to other sources) for use in online discussions and debates. Hence its name.

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