Empowering Girls: 1,000 Ways to Accidentally Kill Your Kids


Parenting magazines should be renamed, 1,000 Ways to Accidentally Kill Your Kids.

During my first pregnancy and Ainsley’s babyhood I spent a great deal of time digesting all the information in parenting magazines and books.

This habit was a contributing factor to my post-partum depression.

Here’s the problem, in the exact same issue they include conflicting information and either way you’re screwed:

One article says you should make your child wash their hands 10 times throughout the day to prevent illness. If you’re making your kids wash their hands before bed, after high-fives and 8 other times during the day you’re making your kid and yourself neurotic.

Flip the page and there is a story on the surge in childhood diabetes. Researchers are looking at extreme cleanliness as an environmental cause.

Oh, you mean like washing their hands 10 times a day to prevent a cold? We’re trading a cold for diabetes?

We also have these gems:

* Checking to make sure there are no stray hairs around their fingers and toes every time you change them. Apparently one child in Canada almost lost a toe due to a hair being wrapped around it tightly.

* Getting early intervention services for autism – even if your doctor thinks he’s fine.

* Dark meat, turns out is good for kids. (Last year white was best.)

* No riding on ATVs because doctors have seen injuries.

* No more peanut butter cause other kids are allergic.

* The wrong size soccer cleats might cause your kid to lose a toenail.

* Daycare for the under 3 month baby prevents asthma. (Last week it caused RSV.)

* No amount of lead is okay now. Even if it’s not deadly, it will make them stupid. Go get another blood test and spend thousands figuring out where it’s coming from and getting your 1950s house treated. Forget that millions of people walking around the planet practically ate, breathed and bathed in the stuff and are just fine.

* Fat will give the heart disease in their 20s. 40% of fat kids’ parents think they’re normal, beware you might be one of them.

* Childproofing items are dangerous: outlet covers will choke them (chose between death by electricity or choking); bathtub safety seats caused drowning; wipes warmers start fires and electrocute people; seat belt positioners aren’t good, now 8-year-olds need booster seats; bed rails to prevent falling out could kill them; sleep positioning to prevent SIDS could suffocate them; Ipecac will prevent poisoning, but could kill them anyway; baby rear view mirrors might help you, but become a flying object to injure you in a crash, crib bumpers to prevent their heads getting stuck between slats will suffocate them.

When you read the statistics they have to justify their preventative advice it’s always like 18 kids in the last 20 years. Which, when you consider how many kids there are on the planet – millions – it isn’t really alarming enough to justify changing your lifestyle.

Now that you’re good and freaked about all the ways there are to kill/mame/or damage your children, turn the page and there’s an accusation that parents are too paranoidd to allow their boys to play freely, offering up too much supervision not enough free play and being weird about naturally aggressive wrestling/fighting play.

Gee, I wonder why parents are paranoid?

28 replies
  1. Anonymous says:

    Right on. My mom and I were just talking yesterday about how rough boys naturally play. She only had me and my two boys are a whole new experience for her. We were discussing the fact that we have both stopped the dramatic inhale of breath (the oh shit breath) everytime they fall, crash, bang, or slightly injure themselves. She also made the comment that she’s learning to accept that all the bruises, scrapes and carpet marks on them is just apparently going to be normal for the next 10 years.. Which leads me to wonder just what she might have been thinking about them and my parenting skills before she came to that conclusion. But that’s a whole different subject.

    I don’t read those magazines anymore. At the doctor’s office I’ll flip through one and think “I don’t need someone to tell me how to play, or feed or protect my child” “They’re alive arent’ they?”


  2. Tracee says:

    I feel the same about all children to a certain degree.

    I knew a woman who was telling me a “horror story” about her child being scratched on an outdoor toy at daycare. She was furious at the lack of supervision and found a new daycare.

    I thought, well they are children. They play and get bruised and scratched and skinned knees. What kind of bubble do you want them to live in?

  3. Jen says:

    wow, my anxiety just kicked into hyperdrive after reading that.

    it’s because of those parenting mags that i’m TERRIFIED to have a child (even though a baby is something i want more than anything …)

    generations of people have made it through the world just fine without all these stupid contradictory precautions. now, all i have to do is convince myself that it’ll all be okay.

  4. Violet says:

    I remember when you were pregnant with Ainsley and it made you crazy trying to reconcile all the conflicting advice (exercise/don’t exercise, eat fish/don’t eat fish, etc.)

    I feel the same way about other issues, like weight loss. Eat lots of pasta and rice to lose weight (remember the 80s). No wait, carbs are the enemy. Eat lots of protein. No, wait, it causes cancer. Dairy products aid weight loss. Wait, no it doesn’t. Drinking water is great for weight loss. Wait, drinking water has virtually no effect.

    I could go on.

  5. mrs. blogoway says:

    Yeah, I saw Michael Moore on Oprah one time saying that child abductions are on the downturn but you would never know that by how the media covers them. We think it’s happening all the time because they cover every one that happens and strike fear in every parent out there.

  6. Summer says:

    Sadly that’s so true. Every little thing is blown up to be a nightmare. But I’ve found that the real things to worry about as a parent are often just brushed over.

  7. candeelady says:

    This was very funny – I’m a pediatric nurse and an over worrier so I needed that!

    Love your blog!!!

  8. *mary* says:

    I know! I had post-partum depression from the magazine-induced anxiety. It honestly felt like I was on 24-hour-a-day crisis watch because all th potential dangers they point out. I STILL am overly protective and paranoid, and I do blame these magazines!

  9. Tracee says:

    Stop reading them Mary.

    Then read Fear Less, it’s a great little book about what’s realistic to fear and what’s just paranoia that inhibits kids from being kids or us from feeling relaxed about them doing so.

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