Trust Your Parenting Instincts

Photo by dno1967b via Flickr
Photo by dno1967b via Flickr

Attention, parents of boys who are learning how to pee standing up: Look out for falling toilet seats!

–“Potty Training Pitfalls” in the Dec. 2013 edition of Parents magazine.

Apparently, “hundreds of little guys” end up in the ER each year with genital abrasions caused by falling toilet seats. But lest you think your son is safe, hear this: the number of genital injuries caused by falling toilet seats is on the rise, according to important research.

Listen: Falling toilet seats are not something you have to worry about as you parent your boys. Should your boys stand back a bit from the bowl? Perhaps. Is it hard for a two-year-old boy to pee in the toilet while standing back from the bowl? Absolutely. So maybe, just maybe, you might want to hold off on the stand-up-to-go thing a bit longer, or have him pee into a small plastic training potty.

And let’s say — worst case scenario — that a toilet seat does fall on your son’s genitals. He’ll be hurt. He’ll cry. Will he require a trip to an emergency room? Probably not. But even if he does — even if this is is among the rare, serious toilet seat incidents — your son will have learned something from the event. Next time he pees, he’ll probably do something different. He might stand back a bit more. Be more aware of his surroundings. Or decide to sit to pee. Either way, he will be fine.

Mainstream parenting magazines all too often prey on parents’ fears. The publishers know that parents, especially new parents, worry about everything. They know that parents want the best for their kids. And so they create headlines and cover lines and articles that appeal to us on an emotional level, that get us to grab the magazine — because, really, do you want to be the parent who doesn’t know about a very real threat to your child?

The problem is that most of these “threats” aren’t serious threats. Consider these threats, covered in the December 2013 issue of Parents:

  • Falling toilet seats
  • Indoor playspaces
  • Christmas trees
  • Shoelace tips (one kid inhaled one)
  • Codeine pain meds
  • Lack of a regular bedtime
  • Possible inappropriate diagnosis at walk-in clinics
  • Digital tech destroying your kids’ social skills — unless you handle it “right”

I feel tired and overwhelmed just looking at that list. That’s a lot of things I need to know about, be concerned about, and do right in order to raise a healthy child.

But here’s the thing: most of those things aren’t real threats. (The short article about the potential danger of codeine pain meds for kids following surgery is the exception, in this case.) Most of the things on that list are common, real-life everyday things that you can figure out on your own by trusting your instincts.

Do you really need a research study, parenting magazine and expert to tell you that indoor playspaces might harbor germs? No, you don’t. Any place that kids play harbors germs. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

Trust your instincts, and trust yourself. You know your child better than anyone else in the world. You also know your family better than anyone else in the world. You know if a dive in the ball pit is the right choice for your kids, because you are perfectly capable of analyzing, on your own, if the slight risk of germ exposure is worth the joy it will bring your child.

You’re also smart enough to figure out how to mitigate the risk. You’re not going to let your child play on a clearly unsafe or unstable play structure, because your parenting instincts will tell you that’s a bad idea. You’ll probably ask your son to get out if you sense that something in the playspace — say, three much older, rowdier kids — renders it potentially unsafe for your child. Or you might let your kid keep playing, because you know and understand that he’s totally comfortable around older, rowdy kids.

We’ve been taught to look to experts for answers. But if we watch our children and pay attention to their needs, as well as to our own needs and values, we can figure out what to do in almost every situation.

There’s nothing wrong with consulting experts, or asking other parents for input and ideas. That’s smart. It’s also smart to be skeptical of any resource that plays up fear and implies that there’s one correct way to do things.

What’s the craziest, fear-based article you’ve ever seen in a parenting magazine?










The Building Boys Bulletin

The Building Boys Bulletin Newsletter gives you the facts, encouragement, and inspiration you need to help boys thrive. Written by Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four sons and author of Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World That Misunderstands Males, Building Boys Bulletin includes:

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“I learned a lot about helping boys thrive over the past 20+ years — most of it the hard way! I’m eager to share what I’ve learned to make your path a little easier.”   – Jennifer

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6 Responses

  1. I want to know more about “lack of a regular badtime” because that sounds like exactly what more kids should have. Otherwise they could be running around in unregulated badtime, just about any time they wanted.

  2. In this day and age of 24/7 news everything is supercharged and BPA in bottles and drop side cribs become top news and make even the most level headed parent question themselves. For me, reading Lenore Skenazy’s book, Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) changed my whole parenting outlook and freed me from the fear mongers.

  3. Hi Jennifer L W Fink,
    Cool Post, Make positive you listen to what your youngster has to say. Listening is ordinarily nearly anything from listening to them babble as infants, listening to how their working day at faculty went, or listening to their difficulties. Young children desire to realize that you care ample to hear to them. In situation you listen to them, they are a lot a lot more apt to pay attention to you.

    Exhibit bodily affection for your youngster. Human beings obviously crave touch. Irrespective of irrespective of whether it truly is a hug or perhaps a kiss or simply a uncomplicated pat all over the head, touch can be a excellent resolution to join with and show affection for your baby. Contact is specially necessary when they’re sick or emotion unfortunate, looking at the simple fact that it really is heading to convenience them.

    Make positive you do not overload your child with work. Also quite a few parents maintain piling accomplish onto youthful little ones and they overload them. Make sure that your little one has time for you to engage in and just unwind. It can be substantial to harmony operate and enjoy, in unique when your child is just commencing college. It is also uncomplicated to question far too much of them at when.

    If you want to really encourage your small children to develop their very own pursuits, then it is necessary for you individually to exhibit them you have received passions of the individual. Even though you need to consider time collectively with your children, you should really have time for oneself, also. This may well enable you preserve oneself as a particular person as well as having a guardian.

    In order for your child to seriously really feel a perception of belonging in the residence, it can be critical that they share duties about the home so they truly feel they might be contributing. Jobs assigned seriously really should be acceptable for the age from the child so they you should not mature to be confused and get discouraged.

    Consume supper together with your cherished types as generally as you will be ready to. Consuming supper alongside with your youngsters encourages more healthy having behaviors. Also, it makes it possible for you a chance to re-join as a household, to speak about what went on all through the day. When you consume jointly as a liked ones, you have an understanding of exactly where your kids are and what they are carrying out in the evenings, which tends to make it a lot easier to curtail or take care of damaging behaviors.

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