15 February 2010

Basic Instructions for Becoming a Parenting Forum “Expert”

1. Have, at least once seen a picture of a baby.  You actually don’t have to have any kids to be an expert.  In fact, the people who seem to know the most about everything are those who have yet to experience labor/breastfeeding/adoption/fertility treatments…whatever.

2. Have read something somewhere.  You can use pretty much anything as a source though the validity seems to be ranked with extremist propaganda being the best and actual, meta-analyzed research being the worst. (I hypothesize that this is because the more you actually read, the more you discover that most things make no appreciable difference to your kids' outcomes...that just does not jibe with the superiority complex of "experts.")

3. Pick a position and stick to it no matter what.  After all if it is your beliefs and your experiences, it must be correct.  You don’t care what someone’s pediatrician said, everyone knows that vaccines are a government conspiracy to poison us all and give kids autism.

4. Make declarative statements that are fairly outlandish, but base them in a grain of truth.  (Note: this is the same technique used for successful lying.) If you can capitalize on some kind of fear mongering, you have only made your expertise stronger.  Example: “TV is harmful to kids, gives them ADD, lowers their IQ and will make them obese.”  Grain of truth:  Spending the majority of your waking hours in front of a TV is bad for anyone.

5. Make sure you scour the forums for any topic that you can expertly drive to your topic of choice and then lambaste the other participants for not recognizing your expertise.  No connection is too obscure.  The group is discussing paint colors for a nursery…you can direct that talk to the superiority of elimination communication in six steps or less if you are a “true expert.”

Lastly, and most importantly;

6. No matter what evidence there may be to the contrary, remember that your way is the only right way and argue that point as long as needed.  After all, the one with the last post after everyone rationally discussing the topic has left wins. 

In the words spoken to Mommy-Idol Marge Simpson in the episode "Pranks and Greens" by her "expert" mommy friends "Have you even read the books I've read?"