21 October 2010

Choices, Questions And So Much More

My current dilemma is worrying about Lil’Bitz and her car seat.  Without getting into the details, I am unsure about turning her around and I am having a really hard time drawing the line between what I know is the answer to this question and what “everyone” says should be the answer to this question.  So that is the point of this post.   I am not interested in this decision in particular*, but I am interested in just how, as parents, we separate the facts from the hype and decide what is right for us versus what is trendy or true today.

My gut reaction, as a true nerd and student of science, is to turn to the research, but that is not always helpful.   You can find research to prove any position (no matter how crazy…tampon conspiracy theorists, I am taking to you) and at the end of the day, when you look at all the research as a whole, you see that very little of it makes any difference.  Breastfeeding won’t get your kid into Harvard anymore than doing CIO will make your kid a sociopath.  Honestly, the research only tells us that our actions are futile and kids will be who they will be so really, your choice of sippy cups is totally a non-issue.

Assuming you even still care after learning that JAMA won’t answer your questions, maybe you turn to the experts, but who are they anyway?   Popular parenting leads to herd of so-called experts touting every theory known to man and each one, taken individually, makes perfect sense because, well, making some sense is how you sell books.  Even the AAP can’t really be used with certainty.  Going back to the car seat thing, sure the AAP says rear facing until 2 years old, but “they” also say that co-sleeping is dangerous (even though it is clearly no more, or less, dangerous than cribs)and “they” used to recommend circumcision (a decision that has no medical basis one way or the other).   Because experts base their opinions on research, which we know is inherently questionable; you are kind of out in the cold on that one.

Lastly, you turn to other parents, but that is dicey at best.   All families make the best choices for themselves, which is just what everyone should be doing, but that means everyone picks and chooses their crusades.  One family may insist upon ERF, but not vaccinate.  Another might be hyped up about Organic food, but eschew baby-proofing.   Add in that parenting certainly experiences more than its fair share of trends and fads suddenly you going crazy-toons with information overload.  Even assuming you just ignore the hipster-mom-police, it can be hard to go with your gut when you know it will illicit the stank-eye from those who get their jollies by being so self-righteous about their choices.

Personally I am learning to evaluate these questions by establishing what my gut tells me, and then evaluating not that choice, but what “popular” logic is making me second guess myself.   If I am rethinking my choice because I am genuinely unsure, or have been presented new information;  that is fine.  If I am questioning myself because my choice is un-hip, or not what the “yummy mummies” are doing, then really, there is no need to be questioning my choice. The only wrong choice is the one that doesn’t work for your family. Now I just need to take my own advice and get over my current crop of "mommy-dramas."

*No, I do not want to read your studies, join you ERF Forever FB Fan Page or hear the story of how you know someone who knows someone who once might have gotten a hangnail from a forward facing car seat, that is NOT what this post is about. Save the sancti-mommy for the baby center forums mmmmkay?


Alicen @ The Space Between My Ears said...

I think you said it right in your post. You need to do what YOU feel is right. It's your baby and your car, end of story.

I had longer to go before thinking about this since Emma is so tiny but I think she will be 20 pounds around 18 months. I have already decided I won't feel comfortable turning her though, she is just so tiny! Honestly never thought I would be a mom with a rear facing child until 2 (mainly because the RF carseat is such a PITA) but here I am. This is exactly why I am so NOT trendy. Nathan I had no problem turning at 14 months but it's different I guess.

You obviously are in the same boat, 2 different kids and 2 different points in your life. Just do what makes you feel comfortable and don't worry about the stank eye. If they don't make it about the car seat they will just find something else! No need to drive yourself crazy about avoiding it.

(Hopefully I didn't just fall into the realm of sancti-mommy)

Ginger said...

I definitely think that being online has really made this more difficult. I appreciate the information I might not have heard otherwise, but it's sometimes hard to distinguish truth from passion from judgment from irrational fear.
I've learned to approach things much the way I do an online review (stick with me). Assuming it's nothing like a recall or something that's *firmly* a truth, I dismiss the obscenely good and disturbingly bad, look at the information from the middle, and then determine how it fits my families life.
And then, I cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Alexis said...

@ Alicen- I think that is exactly it, even between kids in the same family what is "right" can fluxuate so widely, it really is a case by case, gut instinct thing.

@Ginger- The middle is the way to go, maybe that is the bigger issue, the kind of rabid extremism that seems to surround these choices. Do we all need to be THAT right about everything all the time to prove our self-worth as parents? I guess so.