Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Shiri is Right; Everything's Bad for You

Overprotective parents and environmental hazards, how do we strike the proper balance?

My friend since childhood Shiri, is fond of saying, "When you think about it, really everything is bad for you." It is true to a certain extent. How do parents make the best choices for their children without becoming overprotective helicopter parents?

Peggy Orenstein wrote a great piece titled, The Toxic Paradox. She cites numerous examples that people panic about: lead in synthetic athletic turf, Bisphenol A in dental sealants, mercury in tuna, microwaving in plastic.....and she raises the question: What, in our time, does "safe" even mean?

There truly are a billion (since billion is the new million) things to worry about because we parents want to protect our children from harm. But along comes the journal Pediatrics in 2004 and explains that jittery parents have more to fear from fire, car accidents, and drowning than from toxic chemical exposure (with the exception of lead that still threatens the health of millions of children).

"You can't raise your kid in a bubble" Orenstein correctly points out. So here are my thoughts: when research is clear and numerous studies point in the same direction, then for example, you stop smoking. You learn to adapt and you change your ways, it's common sense. When we were kids growing up in Florida, going out in the sun for a few hours was beneficial because you received some much needed Vitamin D. Now you can receive much feared skin cancer such as melanoma. So you adapt, you spend less time in the sun and whenever you venture out in summer, use sun screen.

You cannot panic at every research study (coming attractions: do forward facing strollers hinder language development in infants?) but you cannot ignore them either. You have to trust someone. So when you are pregnant, bring your questions to your Ob/Gyn. When you have children, bring your list of "Is this harmful to my child?" to your Pediatrician.

Try to parent from your guts, not just from your brain!


Noah Wolfe said...

Excellent post! My wife and I totally agree.