Nature Vs. Nerdture
A Geek Parenting Column by Melissa Megan
I haven’t written this column yet in 2014. I’m embarrassed about that. I started out my last episode by using the excuse of the baby becoming more time consuming, which is hilarious to me now to read. He was rolling over back then. Holy shit, what a big job that was! (sarcasm) Now he’s climbing everything in sight, running, knocking things over intentionally, throwing everything and generally making chaos at every opportunity. My “tiny dictator” has now become my “human wrecking ball”. He’s not saying any words yet, but I think that’s because he prefers to yell at everyone like some kind of crazed warrior or to howl like a slowly dying coyote, both of which get him lots of attention and are guaranteed to disturb any living creature within a 20 ft. radius. He’s biding his time with the words, he knows once they come that he’ll be expected to follow through. I see all of this in his beady, manipulative little eyes.
On to business. Today I’d like to talk about the “anti-parent”. This is my term, that I came up with yesterday, to describe this parent that is anti something. Anti gluten, anti dairy, anti vaccines, anti strollers, anti cribs, anti formula, anti anti. Before being a parent, I knew what I loved in life : comics, games, science, art, animals. After being a parent, I still know what I love in life, but now I’m so very happy that I love science. When you become a parent and most of your friends are not, you must eventually seek out other parents, no matter how terrified you are of that old high school feeling that they will all hate you and laugh behind your back. Everyone feels this way when meeting new people, right? So, you meet the new parents, you stand around looking at each babies affectionately (who really loves all the babies they meet??) and you try to find some tiny thing you can relate to these people with besides poop wiping techniques. You join groups online so you can get advice and stuff. Then you begin to see the “anti-parents”.
You may be thinking “who cares what other parents think?” Mostly, you are right, I try not to care too much about those other parents and their opinions. But, then you start to care about things like when you should give your baby eggs, whether certain vaccines can be given together, why your baby has gas so often and why the other parents think a chiropractor can solve that problem. You care because what they think can sometimes make you question what you think. It can expose chips in your logic and cracks in what you thought you felt very confident about doing. The anti-parent is the voice that chimes in on every goddamn thread to tell you that what you’re feeding, medicating with, carrying in or not doing enough is the wrong choice and you may be a terrible parent for doing that terrible thing.
If you’re not a parent, this probably sounds like complete silliness, but I imagine there aren’t too many people reading this who are not parents. Back on track, I love science and discovering the existence of the anti-parent has renewed my love and commitment to science. In an internet world stuffed to capacity with hyperbole and sensationalist journalism, if you do not utilize your critical thinking skills, you will inevitably fall down a rabbit hole of terrifying, bogus information that will result in your painful transition to becoming an anti-parent. You will fear that every GMO laced vegetable will give your child leukemia. That lotion you like the smell of is actually seeping toxins in to your baby’s blood. Every vaccine your doctor pokes in to your baby’s thigh could result in Autism or paralysis. It’s a life of fear that every time we trust evidence and science to give us the real deal, we’re ignoring our parental responsibility to protect our children from danger.
My encounters with the anti-parent has led me to revisit all the basics of scientific theory that I learned once, long ago, and didn’t think I would ever need to defend. Germ theory. The principal of dose equals toxicity. The simple fact that “chemicals” are a naturally occurring part of life, they are in everything around us, and just being a chemical does not inherently make it toxic. The concept that nature is not all butterflies and rainbows, but it’s also poison and death. This is an aspect of parenting that I never expected: to have my science knowledge tested by every health article I read. I’ve learned so much more in my quest for truth and trusted, peer reviewed studies.
Something I recently discovered that I’m excited to share with you is an amazing new project by a group of students committed to helping people recognize and utilize evidence based information for health resources. It’s called Students for Best Evidence and I think it’s the best thing that could happen to the internet right now. Parenting is challenging enough without a barrage of “health” articles alerting you every day to the myriad of things you could be doing that are endangering the life and healthy development of your child. Use your nerd skills, my friends, and remember that science is your friend. It is not an evil villain with a greasy mustache imagining new ways to mutate you and your offspring. It’s a technique for finding real, evidence based answers that help us live longer and be happier. Be a proactive parent by learning how to critically think, be a skeptic, and focus on enjoying that little booger machine.
I love to hear your opinions & feedback, so please speak your minds on our shiny new Talking Comics forum and let me know how you feel about the challenges of parenting in the nerdverse. Until next time, my lovelies!