Parenting

Why Do News Publications Hate Parents?

In the news yesterday I caught to inflammatory headlines Processed food linked to lower kids’ IQs and Early introduction to solid foods leads to obesity. GIVE ME A BREAK.

Listen, let me give you a simplified introduction to statistics: One to One relations that are purely causal, especially in medical studies, are nearly impossible. Do you know who buys a lot of processed foods? Poor people. So, how do you know that the processed foods are the only link to lower IQs. YOU DON’T. There are so many factors that determine a child’s IQ, you can’t connect any one thing. SO WHY FREAK PARENTS OUT WITH THAT HEADLINE? And the other one? The early solid foods = obesity one? Imagine this scenario: A child is born with a strong reaction to hunger. They scream a lot when they’re hungry. The average parent introduces solid food a little early just to STOP THE SCREAMING. Do you see what happens? It’s the strong reaction to hunger that leads to BOTH things, the early introduction to solids AND the obesity.

When I Googled the phrase “leads to obesity” – I got SEVEN headline results to freak us parents out:

Basically, if we don’t want our kids to be obese? We have to do the following things:

  1. Introduce solids LATE in childhood
  2. Make sure they sleep well
  3. Don’t let them watch TV
  4. Don’t feed them High Fructose Corn Syrup
  5. Make sure they eat breakfast
  6. Don’t let them work a stressful jog

Journalists seem to LOVE the headlines that make us parents the MOST INSANE. If you watch the news someday you’ll see it there too. They’ll tease a headline that tells us what quick fix is going to make sure our children grow up to be happy, healthy, well-balanced adults. Coming up next…Could the lunches you pack your child cause them to murder innocent people in 10 years?.

GIVE ME A BREAK.

It just makes me so angry. There are not perfect formulas for parenting. Try to feed them healthy foods, make sure they get exercise, read a little, and don’t watch TV too much. Teach them about kindness and respect. Love them with all of your heart when you aren’t wishing you really could ship them off to boarding school. Parenting is NOT an exact science. We do the best we can with the tools we have. Sometimes our kids turn out okay, but most adults have some issue they’re dealing with. None of us are perfect. Is that our parent’s fault? Maybe we can find a connection, but let’s face it. WE ARE ADULTS. We can’t blame all of our problems on one thing our parents did. Too many other factors and also? WE ARE ADULTS. We can’t blame our issues on our parents all of our lives. SO, why do we assume any problems our children have as adults are our fault?

BECAUSE THESE HEADLINES MAKE US CRAZY.

I know there is NOTHING we can do about it. These headlines grab us and make us read the articles because we will do ANYTHING to try to keep our children from obesity, or professional failure. But these articles never really tell us anything we don’t already know on some level. But we read them anyway. We can’t stop ourselves. I guess the only thing we can do is teach the budding journalists in our homes that INFLAMMATORY HEADLINES MAKE MOMMIES AND DADDIES INSANE. Maybe if they group up to write those articles they’ll bed their publication to lead with a less annoying headline. Like:

It Seems That One Of The Multiple Factors Affecting An Adult’s Well-Being Could Possibly Be Indirectly Linked To One Of The Hundreds Of Decisions You Make As A Parent.

I know. There is no way in hell any publication would run that headline, is there? We’re just going to have to live with these headlines, aren’t they? Read the article and filter out the useful information and throw away the stupid absolutes they throw at us. ::SIGH::

Well, at least I feel better putting my complaints out there too. And maybe I can come up with my own inflammatory headline:

People In Charge Of Creating And Publishing Inflammatory Headlines That Make Parents Pull Their Hair Out Are Prone To Obesity, Heart Disease, Cancer, Malaria, Ebola, West Nile, and Ugly Hair.

17 thoughts on “Why Do News Publications Hate Parents?”

  1. The thing is every kid is different – okay they look the same on the outside they have two eyes nose mouth etc but Kid A could eat a burger and be full and kid B could eat a burger and want another because they are still hungry. The problem with alot of scientific studies that they use is that it’s based on a sample group of 50 or 100 which isn’t a big enough range of kids to make a decision. Also doesn’t take it to account things like – does the child live in an inner city apartment with no garden? Does their parent(s) have to work weekends so can’t take them to the park to burn off that energy? etc etc

    The press are just as bad here – If I stopped eating all the stuff they tell is carcinogenic then I’d actually be dying of malnutrition.

  2. Our standard family joke is that every news story can be boiled down to either “I want my baby back” or “Why water can kill you.” That’s it! Every story is either one or the other. Pull the heartstrings or make you panic. ๐Ÿ˜›

  3. Thank you. Every time I see one of these headlines now, I am going to translate it to Zootese before I freak out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I call these “slow news day” headlines. When there’s nothing going on with people killing each other overseas and there’s nothing interesting to report in Hollywood, reporters have to resort to things like this.

    I’m with Han — there’s a lot that just isn’t factored in with these studies. For example, I’m Kid B, who would reach for a second burger, but I also have a really fast metabolism so even at my heaviest (pre-pregnancy, that is, I don’t count the wobbly hugeness that I am now at 37 weeks!) I hovered between a 6 and an 8. I have girlfriends who will get a Happy Meal when we road-trip, and be full, and they’re bigger than I am. I will get the large chicken nugget combo AND a milkshake AND an apple pie, and eat every bite. They hate me for it, but it’s genetics. I’m not an overly active person, either — growing up I always preferred reading or playing with My Little Ponies to the neighborhood kickball and flashlight tag games, and now I consider window shopping a workout (what? Those malls get crowded, you do all sorts of core work when you’re dodging around people!). So much of it depends on how your body works on its own, you can’t lay all the blame for childhood obesity on TV and Cheetos.

  5. I love the headline you made up! What really irks me is when they advertise a “Why water can kill you” story on the news and pretend like it’s going to be this big story … and then it’s a throwaway sentence or two at the end of the broadcast.

  6. It seems these studies are grasping at straws. If you look enough, you can find that all of us are doing something wrong as parents. My feeling is, as long as we all make it through the day intact, then it’s been a good day. If I can keep a bit of my humor intact along the way, then it’s been great. Whatever I had to do (extra TV, a bribe of a cookie, long naps) to get there.

  7. It is amazing. I had a study that we did two years ago get hit by the press, and while most of the articles they published were correct, the headlines were atrocious. And maybe we all need a course in statistics?

  8. Every time one of these headlines starts a debate, whether it’s within the mommy blogs or in the media, my first thought is:

    “Come with me into ANY sixth grade, public school classroom and point out the kids who were formula fed or breastfed or co-slept or eat too much HFCS or have never watched TV or, or, or….(you CANNOT tell the difference unless they’ve been there and their mom bought them the t-shirt – I WAS FERBER-IZED!!!) Prove to me that any of this crap makes one iota of a difference in who a child becomes later in life.”

  9. And didn’t we also get the headline last week that children of working mothers are more likely to be obese?

  10. I don’t know how many times I’ve had it drilled into my head – correlation does not equal causation! Oh I hated stats class, I really did, but I’m glad for the better understanding it gave me of ridiculous claims like those! Of course, as a parent, with so much pressure on you already, I can definitely see how it would be hard for that moment of panic to remember what you know!

  11. Love this!!! I heard the same thing this weekend – also tacked on to the story about introduction of solids was the amount of time the mother worked outside the home. Is there nothing I can do that will not end up ruining my children???

  12. Oh godses, I just had a run-in with someone about national nutella day. Cause of course spreading nutella on a piece of whole grain totally destroys any nutritious value this wholegrain had and renders it useless.

    Honestly.. This GOOD vs. BAD is maddening.

    And I wonder, if your child becomes an obese adult are you going to love them less? Or maybe think it’s such a shame that they’re not living up to their full potential?

    I’m obese and I am actually a hair puller (trichotillomania is the word for it) and I think my life is pretty damn sweet most of the time.

  13. This reminds me of one of my parenting truths. Kids are either really hard to break or really easy, and you never know which one you have until it’s too late. I tend to not read anything with a headline like that, because it just makes me crazy.
    I was talking to my sister once and I said that the thing that hurt me most in childhood was that they would threaten to leave me behind when I was having temper tantrums in public and I seriously believed them. She said that what she thought was the worst thing was that they took us to too many nice restaurants and it was hard to sit still. I say, if that’s her serious damage from childhood, she’s lucky.

  14. All I can say is that I was reprimanded by my daughter’s pediatrician because at 6 months she isn’t fully eating solids yet. I was told (by him) that between 4 and 6 months is when a child’s body determines if they will develop allergies to certain foods. It doesn’t help that they keep changing the age of when to start solids either – seems to fluctuate constantly. Not totally on topic – sorry! In the age of information, sometimes there is just too much out there and people feeling the need to add more dribble.

  15. Heh. At the four month appointment I inquired about solids and was told to wait till six months. I ignored for various reasons but with a lot of guilt. At the six-month appointment my doctor started with “So, how long has he been eating solids?” and just seemed to assume it had been a while.

    You can’t win.

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