The guilt from relatives is often driven by mythology – watching daytime TV doesn’t make you a child expert. The PC police aren’t much better – just because something is on the Web doesn’t mean it’s true.
Some myths, like the anti-vaccine BS, can harm your kid’s physical well-being. A few falsehoods can screw up a child’s psyche, like the myth that impacted all the boys in my high school.
For years, the Chicago Public School system held certain myths concerning swimming. They believed swimwear, specifically boys’ swimsuits, was a prime contributor to pool sanitation problems. The logic: boys are pigs, they will never wash their suits, and dirty suits make for a nasty swimming pool.
The district administration decided to ban swimsuits. You read that correctly. In Chicago high schools, boys swam naked (girls wore school-issued bathing suits). Daily PE was mandatory in Illinois, so my cohorts and I got lots of quality time together.
If you don’t believe me, google “Chicago high schools ban swimsuits.” And while you’re surfing, look up the phrase “messed up.” You’ll see a picture of high school teens swimming buck naked – I’m the skinny dork with black-rimmed glasses curled up in a fetal position on the diving board.
Fortunately, most myths, like swimming immediately after eating causes drowning, are laughable wives’ tales. Yet, childrearing myths do eat away at your cash, time, and emotions. Parents must learn to decipher fact from fiction.
As a psychologist, my preferred myth-buster is science. There’s a large body of research on childrearing, but you don’t have the time to read the stuff because, like hello, you’re a parent. So, I will help.
Here’s a quick filter to use. If you get parenting guidance from a relative or a screen, close your eyes and picture my skinny ass, naked one, shivering on a diving board. That should help you ignore the advice.