When I became pregnant with my first born, I was equal parts excited, anxious, and in love. As time went on, however, the latter, the heart-squeezing feeling of being in love turned into suffocation. I was downright afraid and worried about events that I would have never foreseen before becoming pregnant. Things that were not even on my radar. Stuff like vaccines and brain bleeds from refusing the Vitamin K shot. Blindness from refusing the (eye drops) upon birth. And the list goes on. This is because I found myself being ambushed by advice from well-meaning friends and family as well as a heaping pile of Internet articles.
Looking back, these feelings, these pangs of worry during pregnancy were probably normal. For me though, it wasn’t so much that I became worried, it was what (the problems and non-problems) worried me in the first place. Before, I wouldn’t even question whether I should vaccinate my kids or give them a doctor-recommended shot if it meant he wouldn’t be at risk of bleeding into his brain. I figured I’d have the larger, “expected” concerns like premature birth, miscarriage, and the usual, but not these.
Fast forward a 20-month old and 5-month old later, society is at it again. This time with a slew of parenting dos and don’ts from Parenting magazine or crunchy mom experts. The sneaky bastards even have me writing an op-ed on parenting, something I promised I wouldn’t do. Anyway, it seems as if raising children has become some type of tangled art with common sense carefully hidden somewhere in the center. Before, we’d rely on our communities, our parents to lovingly guide us through the deed, throwing away what we didn’t truly agree with, and holding sacred the sage advice only experience could give us. Now though, our insecurities poking out like an ugly zit, has us scrambling to Google every time our kids do something out of the realms of being perfect little angels. When they cry, we don’t know what to do. When they smile, we wonder if we’re spoiling them too much. When they don’t eat a certain food, we wonder if they’ll die of starvation. When they eat too much, we wonder if we’ll have to take them on The Biggest Loser. When they throw a tantrum, we run to Google. When we want them to sleep, we wonder if we should sleep train or if letting them cry will somehow turn them into ill-adjusted adults. When do we feed them their first solid food? Ask Google. Should we spank them? Ask Google. Do we practice attachment parenting (seriously, what the hell is this)? Ask Google.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel fortunate to live in an age where information is at our fingertips; and if we’re really in a bind, and no one truly knows what to do, we can instantly find a peer-reviewed article to guide us to our answers. But to see grown-ass people so insecure and dependent upon the Internet to rear the young people that will be in their lives forever is more than a little concerning. I think it’s high time to take a break from the Google-advice and parenting experts and raise our children with values, not techniques.