There are many new and exciting things that are discovered about parenting, and what is safe and dangerous to do in terms of the technology we use and the techniques we use for everything from feeding our children to putting them to sleep. The way we slept when we were babies would be considered dangerous and perhaps life threatening to babies raised today — take the back versus belly debate for sleeping, which each continues to have its champions depending on the age of the baby.
Then you have the design of the crib itself. Up until recently, it was quite commonplace to find a crib with a side that dropped down for easier access — until studies showed that there were babies that were getting hurt and even killed because of the drop side design. This article claims that at least thirty two babies were killed because of the drop side cribs between 2000 and 2010. I don’t mean to sound crass but this is fewer than 4 babies per year. To put this into perspective, close to one hundred children die every year from the flu — or more every year than all of the babies in the decade of studying the drop side crib.
It was with this in mind that The Onion, one of the funniest satire publications I know, wrote an article claiming that a study from the very real and quite serious California Parenting Institute concluded that absolutely every style of parenting led to disturbed, miserable adults.
“Our research suggests that while overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life’s difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood,” lead researcher Daniel Porter said. “And, interestingly, we found that anything between those two extremes is equally damaging, always resulting in an adult who suffers from some debilitating combination of unpreparedness and isolation.
The Institute was infuriated when the article led to a deluge of calls from confused parents and organizations, not understanding why the CPI would do such a study.
Let us consider that the people who called in, angry, had somehow never heard of The Onion. Are they also completely incapable of looking at a web site, seeing the other articles published, and understand that perhaps it is not a source of serious news?
I get the feeling that the people making these calls are the exact target audience that the CPI is trying to protect through its ever changing wisdom — parents who would quickly throw out one style of parenting and switch to another based on a study.