Parenting experts are destoying my parenting experience!

I’m new to the parenting biz. We had our first child 15 months ago. But the confusion started WAY before that!

Bear with me here, but I find the small modicum of control with which I grip my life through data. I collect up the data and then attempt to make the right decision before acting. When I was pregnant, I began to see the complete impossibility of this approach. Reality truly came crashing in after I gave birth!

Co-sleep, no-cry sleep solution or cry-it-out? Depends on if you ask Dr. Sears, Pantley or Ferber. Either way, you are ruining your child’s life and risking death by SIDs depending on whose research you are looking at!

Vaccinate or not? Do you listen to the CDC or the granola munchers on this one? Autism or early death from disease?

Circ? No-circ? Well, that apparently depends on if you want to doom your child to a life of sexual dysfunction OR rampant urinary infections and an increased risk of cancer! Not to mention the certain insecurity he will feel from looking “different” than everyone else in the locker room.

Breast-feed or poison the child with formula? What if you can’t pull off the breast-feeding thing? Well, then poison is your only option, be prepared to hear about it everytime you add water to the powder in public.

Baby-wearing, attachment parenting, prepare your own baby food (better make it organic!), cloth diapering, natural childbirth, mid-wives, home-schooling, doctors are evil incarnate, …why is it the current trend seems to be that the BEST solution to any parenting dilemma just happens to be the most difficult (read as: many times impossible)! But if you don’t make the right choices, according to the experts, you are dooming your child to: autism (vaccinations), insecurity (cry-it-out), malnutrition and lower IQ (formula), diaper rashes (disposable diapers). There is a never-ending list of repercussions and the guilt alone can wreck any parent who chooses just one easy solution!

A quick browse in the parenting section of any bookstore yields hundreds of titles on how to be a great parent and raise a happy, healthy and secure child. They range from the anecdotal (Iovine, Sears) to the seriously studious (Spock). All profess to be experts in the field who possess the holy grail of solutions for all your parenting issues. The problem: the only thing the experts agree on is that every child is different and there are no universal solutions! Yay!

Then the parents and in-laws chime in with “just do what comes naturally”. Erm…naturally? You sure on that? Because sometimes I naturally just want to lock him in a closet and quietly lose my mind. Kidding…kidding! (sort of)

I’ve lurked here for months and this is my first pitting so please be gentle with me. Life with my toddler is befuddling enough. Add to it the recent book I read proposes “caveman” talk to deal with tantrums and you get just a tiny sliver of my frustration. All I have learned about parenting can be encapsulated in a single thought: I am doomed to fail miserably regardless of how I act, react, or respond to my child. Ok, make that two thoughts…I have also learned that parenting experts capitalize on creating a climate of guilt and fear by condemning /condoning any action that disagrees/agrees with their way.

Understand, I really, really want to enjoy this experience. At the same time, I truly want to do what is best for my critter. Instead, every decision I make has me listening to a little demon in the back of my head chanting, “…insecurity, lower IQ, arrested development, failure to thrive, autism…insecurity, lower IQ, …”

I want to post a coherent reply, but I have a 4.5 week old so coherence is not a current feature of my existence.

When I was pregnant, I just decided to ignore all the parenting “advice” published out there, unless I had a specific question/problem, and then it’s not going to be Spock et al that I’ll be asking - it’s gonna be the pediatrician, my doctor, my husband, my own concience, my parents and friends and relatives. I’m still sticking with that approach, figuring out things as I go. Whether this will result in a completely messed up kid, who knows. As you said, all kids are individuals, what works for on won’t work for others. What worked for my parents in raising me may or may not work in raising my daughter.

Since all of those “advice” writers are in it to make money from publication and lecture tours, and don’t really care about the individual happy/healthy/secure kids, it’s not something that’s on my list of worries. Whether I can pay the bills today, keep my baby happy and fed and healthy, and whether I’m going to ever be able to use my PhD again - those are on my list of worries.

Anybody that worries this much about being a good parent IS a good parent! It frequently amazes me that I have a healthy, happy, well adjusted 12 year old. It seems like just yesterday I was reading the baby advice books.

Sometimes they are a pain in the bum, sometimes they are like sunshine. Just love them lots and you can’t go far from wrong.

Experts just like to keep you on your toes.

It simply doesn’t matter. The human mind is an amazingly complex machine, the developing mind doubly so. No one has a lock on what actions have which results, in the long term; most baby writiers have a handful of children from whom they’ve made generalizations. The best advice is in Dr. Spock’s Introduction: “Relax. You know more than you think you do.” You know it’s not right to hit him, or lock him in a closet, so don’t. You know that your child is different from all the others, so what worked for some author may not work for you. If he sleeps well with you, do that. If he sleeps well when he’s swaddled up like a baby, do that. If he cries for ten minutes before sleeping no matter what you do, close the door and wait it out – it’s normal for him.

The best solution for parenting is almost always to spend more time with the kid. The other time-intensive advice is usually the result of boredom or paranoia. Where I see a hotly debated child-care topic, I usually see a topic that (a) no one really knows anything about, or (b) doesn’t really matter. Either way, choose what works. (FWIW, we vaccinate).

First time parent checking in.

You know what gets to me? SIDS (sudden infant death syndrom).
The fact that ‘they’ love to scare the crap out of you with the threat of SIDS.
Granted, most of the advice is good advice that few dispute (sleep face up!).
What gets to me is this type of thing:

I have a subscription to Parents magazine. Here is stupid Bad News reading the articles. Here is Bad News reading an article about a mom who, regardless doing everything correctly, had a baby die, at 6 months, of SIDS. Thanks Parents magazine! Thank you for driving home the point that I can do everything perfectly and still fail! Thank you for reminding me of one of the things that horrifies me the most! Thanks a whole fucking lot, Parents magazine!

I’m not a parent, PhalPhoto, but I’d like to share with you my favorite parenting advice ever, from a co-worker who is also a loving and devoted father of two:

“Babies are tough little things. You can’t hardly kill 'em.”

They’re resilient little critters. Love them, do what feels best for your baby and you, and chances are good that all will turn out well.

As a woman of prime child-bearing age I can relate to what you are saying - I’ve watched a couple of pregnant friends go through the gamut of “Your baby will certainly die painfully unless you buy this product*” messages. Talk about unscrupulous. It’s disgusting.

I am frankly terrified of ever having to go through this. I think I’ll just get a dog.

I’m right there with you, Bad News! And once you make that death-defying trip through the first year and heave a huge sigh of relief from having survived the SIDs bullet, you can just wind yourself right back up because you have a couple more years to sweat autism! Yessir, yet another no cause/no cure life wrecker is just waiting in the wings to spring upon you and leave you gasping with panic-induced respiratory failure.

If that is not mind-numbing enough…potty training arrives at some undefined developmentally-appropriate time and opens up a myriad of ways to screw up the fine job you have been doing so far! Nothing like staring down the barrel of a potentially anally-retentive child to make my future parenthood seem so much more attractive and inviting!

Is it any wonder that over half of my fellow first-timer friends are on meds? Is there a better solution to facing the stress, guilt and terror of parenthood than a drug-induced sense of calm and well-being?

Look…I read all the books, saw all the videos, asked all the questions and I quite honestly never remembered any of it and until Mrs. Obvious just started trusting her gut…she was in the same boat as you.

Our 3 rules of parenting:

  1. Do the best you can

  2. Use common sense

  3. Love the hell out of them

Good luck!

I have to job hunt today so I don’t have time to research this, but this is what I have heard about recent studies.

About the breast-milk: the important thing is that the child gets breast-milk, especially for the first three days. Increase benefit to child has been noticed with ciontinuing breast-feeding for up to two years, but not after that. But no-one wants you to starve the child, and a lot of people would prefer you bottle-fed in public (me, I don’t care). That being said, hydrogenated vegetable oils are nasty things. Avoid them for yourself and your baby.

I believe I heard recently that single vaccinations are safer than three-in-one for some reason (the perservative in the vaccine?). If your pediatrician treats you like an idiot for bringing it up, get another pediatrician.

I believe the AMA recently said there was no medical reason for circumcision, but that cultural reasons should be respected. I think it’s genital mutilation, but it’s none of my business.

On cry and sleeping: I’m no expert, but I am pretty sure that babies will do both no matter what you do.

Boy does the OP bring back memories. Mostly good, some scary.

Firstly, I want to say that when it comes down to it, Mr. Obvious is right on the money. Why should you listen to me? Well, if it means anything, I’ve managed to get three kids to the ages of 13, 16 and 17, and they’re OK, and I’m still (reasonably) sane.

And keep in mind the medical community changes their minds every few years about what’s the “proper thing” to do for your little ones anyway. When my kids were babies, you were supposed to lay them on their bellies so they didn’t choke on their spit up like they would if they were on their backs. Friends tell me now that’s a Cardinal Sin, and makes you A Bad Parent.


Love em and enjoy em. Before you know it they’ll be wearing weird clothes, towering over you, and asking for the car. Trust me.

Good luck!


Are you serious ? My god.

I’ve often said this but have never before meant it sincerely: What is the world coming to?!

Just to touch on one of the issues, there is absolutely zero evidence that vaccinations are in any way related to autism. If you are listening to people that says there is evidence, you are listening to quacks. That doesn’t mean there will never be evidence, but all studies up to this point have shown no relation.

If there are conspiracy theorists to ignore, it is ones that want you to put your child in immediate danger by not vaccinating them because they hold a belief that has no basis in facts.

Why would you believe something like that without even checking into it? I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I know I’m not going to repeat that I heard it unless I do my homework and actually find some evidence that it is true, in which case I would remember for sure whether I had heard it and where I found the actual evidence. Read the links in my first quote to see that “I believe I heard,” and some things called “evidence” and “factual statement” are completely different.

For everyone, I have four kids, three of which are triplets, so I really have no sympathy for any of you. :slight_smile:

Oh, my husband and I break all the parenting rules.
I started out by having an induced labor with an epidural (which ended up in a c-section).
My boy was circumcised.
I didn’t breastfeed.
We don’t co-sleep.
We vaccinate.
We even bought one of those doorway bouncers for him (he looooves it, but they’re not recommended by the AAP).

There were good reasons for all of these decisions, so I’m comfortable with how we’ve done so far (he’s only 7 1/2 months old). And, despite the fact that some people would classify the above decisions as practically abusive, he’s the happiest kid I’ve ever met. He’s right on target developmentally, is in the 95th percentile for height/75th for weight, and giggles his days away. So, I’m over it…I try not to feel guilty about what we’ve decided to do. (Although, it was hard for me to type that list without also listing all my justifications.)

I belong to a group for stay-at-home moms and it’s unbelievable the judgemental comments that are made by some people. You just have to let it go and trust your instincts and your intelligence. No kid is going to turn into the perfect adult the baby books seem to be anticipating - if you follow all their rules. I can handle my son losing 10 iq points if it means he’ll be raised in an un-neurotic home.

I envy all of you your experiences. I posted on this very message board awhile back (just do a search on my username if you’re interested.) that my daughter, Montana, was stillborn. I’m here today to tell you that there are any number of things that can go wrong with your children, thousands of things every day can take them from you. The good news. Literally Billions of people in this world survived to adulthood. Including you. The one person who said that a friend told them that babies are hard to kill? VERY wise and Very true. A very large portion of us survived to adulthood without the help of Dr. Spock et al. While our beautiful girl was in utero my wife would constantly look up every little hiccup she had in “what to expect when you’re expecting.” Invariably the answer from that cursed volume was “it could be one of two possibilities, your baby may have gas, or…SHE MAY ALREADY BE DYING!!!” For the record, what in fact did take my little angel from us was a placental abruption. Basically the placenta pulled away from the uterus walls during labour and just like that my baby died. So, what did I learn from all of this that is relevant to you? well…two things. Number one, temper what you read, if read you must, with a whole lot of common sense. Not everything is a major catastrophe, you know your baby, YOU know what works best. I understand that you want to make the most informed choices you can, but you must understand that you are the childs parent, noone else knows what works on your baby better than you. And two, the universal truth in this world is that the one thing babies need to thrive and survive is the one thing that you obviously have in spades. Love. I didn’t mean this to sound a horrible post, It kind of reads that way now. I guess what I “the father of an angel in heaven and not a child here on earth” am trying to say is that you must stop worrying endlessly and try just worrying enough that you still have time to enjoy the fact that you are raising a child. I wish you and your beautiful gift every happiness. Now go and hug your baby and play with them for awhile. Because trust me on this, it’s far more worth it to be cherishing your baby, than to be worrying about every little thing that “might” happen.


I just want to chime in on a couple of these issues.

First, on breast feeding. Mrs. Moto and I have twins, and her milk production was severely low from the start and eventually stopped altogether. Our babies had nutritional needs, too, that had to be supplemented by formula, since they were born two months prematurely.

We fed them using a combination of expressed breast milk and formula for as long as we could, then switched to formula only. We’d mix it up by the gallon, using Wal-Mart brand formula since it was considerably cheaper and was actually made by the same manufacturer as the name brand (Wyeth Labs).

The kids are sixteen months old today, and they are very healthy and happy. They actually both got through the winter with barely any colds. So, while it is best that they get breast milk, and we would have liked to breast feed them more, you can certainly raise healthy babies on formula alone.

For sleeping, it’s easy for us to see, since we have twins, but all babies are different. When we put the kids to bed, our daughter immediately smiles, grabs her doll, sucks her thumb, and closes her eyes. Our son, meanwhile, will always cry for 10 to 15 minutes. He’s just a little boy who doesn’t like being put to bed.

After that time, though, he’ll curl up and drop off. Both kids then sleep for 11 hours. :smiley:

You may need to resist picking a baby up after 10 or 15 minutes of crying. It’s hard, but it’s the only way our son would go to sleep on his own.

Fuck parenting books. Fuck parenting magazines. Fuck parenting experts. You want some advice and helpful info concerning childraising? Find some parents. Talk with your parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins. Find a local playgroup or mom’s group. Find your peers, see what they’re doing and how it is working out for them. Draw on the wisdom of the tribe. All of the parents of your generation survived those very same issues and raised, for the most part, reasonably sane and healthy progeny. Hell, babies used to survive strapped to a board and bouncing around on momma’s back all day in the days of the Native American. They’re tougher than you think.


Take that advice with a grain of salt, too, or you’ll go just as crazy. The other night, my mother-in-law spent a half hour scolding my husband because we haven’t started potty training, yet…a 7 1/2 month old!! My husband told her we’d get right on it…as soon as he figured out how to actually walk to the bathroom and got the manual dexterity to, you know, pull his pants down.

First off, relax. You’re going to make mistakes. Every parent does. The good thing is, as long as it’s not abuse or neglect…your baby will never remember it.

Love them love them love them. Feed them, clothe them, burp them, and love them love them love them.

Oh, and you can’t read to a child too much.

See, like C3 mentions, this is a tough one. My parents and in-laws are not a lot of help here since what is right and wrong in child-rearing has changed so much. Both my mother and my mother-in-law drank and smoked for the duration of their pregnancies. Needless to say, they did not support my stopping smoking while pregnant much. My mother-in-law swears that all of her kids were sleeping through the night at six weeks and I must be messing up somehow since mine still isn’t. Anytime I present a dilemma to them, they mostly just tell me to bring him to them and they will fix him right up for me. This has a double effect of making me feel more incompetant (if it is that easy, I should be able to do it, right?) and make me doubt the validity of their advice (due to their own selective memories).

My mother-in-law loves to share stories of my husband being a perfect angel and drifting off to sleep each night for 12 hours straight. Then later she slips up and mentions that they sometimes resorted to driving him around in the car to get him to sleep?

As for peers and friends, man, if you only knew how rough that one is to deal with. Peers and friends all have VERY strong opinions on all of the things I listed to begin with. It’s a terrible idea to bring up vaccinations, circumcision and breastfeeding around any group of people with whom you would like to remain friends. Just trust me on this one.

My point is that I don’t lack for advice…I lack for answers! Too many theories, not enough good hard science. Books, people, websites, and magazines all swearing to have the answers…but none of them agree on what the answers are.

And yes, I am serious about the unbelievable number of first-time mothers that I know are on anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications. I participate in another message board that is made up of women who all have babies the same age as mine. All you have to do is post: “Anyone know if I can take Prozac/Zoloft (sp?)/Other substance while breast-feeding?” and the posts roll in. They are experts in these medications because over half of them are currently using them!