“Okay, now be sure to hold your breath when Mommy flushes!” I overheard from an adjacent public bathroom stall. “When the toilet flushes, all of those germs and yuk gets puffed into the air and we do not want to breathe that in! Okay, ready? Annnd, hold your breath!”
Can we possibly agree that maybe, just maybe today’s mother is burdened with too much information?
Contemporary parents are quite possibly the most informed cohort this planet has ever seen.
Information is good, almost always, but can I safely ask the question that in some cases maybe, ‘do we know too much?’
I don’t at all embrace the, ‘So what I turned out just fine,’ position. It’s far too often used to defend blatantly bad parenting practices such as spanking and smoking while pregnant.
Great, maybe we all lived through a few hits to rear end, and yes technically we may have turned out just fine but that does not in any way excuse that kind of behavior. In certain instances, we do know better and therefore actually must do better.
However, while we may be highly informed mothers, I do think that in some instances, we have too much information.
We may be thinking way too much. We are so keenly aware of every single possible, potential outcome or impact on the long-term development of our children, that it sometimes does not serve us well.
When I think about my generation of women, our mothers didn’t know half of what we have to process as mothers.
Of course, I am glad we no longer put our babies on their bellies to sleep. I am glad we know better than to smoke or drink while pregnant. Yes, of course I’m glad the bars on baby cribs are no longer far enough apart for a baby’s head to get stuck in between them.
I am very happy that we have made actual progress in terms of keeping babies and mothers healthy and safe. But, is it possible that the pendulum has swung a little too far in one direction?
Is it possible that our mothers worried less?
You’ve all heard the joke that moms in the 80s would simply send her children out into the streets to play while she sat inside and drank a Tab.
Sure, it’s probably a slight exaggeration but I bet there is some truth to it.
Our mothers weren’t bogged down by the worry of exposure to certain things and how it would affect the development of our overall psyche. Keep in mind, I saw Stand by Me in the theater the weekend it debuted. It was 1986. I was 12. It’s rated R.
Our mothers probably weren’t worried about what happened on the playground at recess or how we were getting along with our friends.
I know I’m likely not alone when I say that we all experienced some level of mockery, teasing, and mild bullying that I never once shared with my parents. Today, many of us are so worried about our kids’ relationships that we intervene at every argument, fight, or sense of uncertainty and the worry is killing us.
In so many ways, we are victims of our own circumstance.
We have 24/7 unlimited access. Articles about risk, what to do, and what not to do fill our news feeds constantly. Do this! Don’t do that! It is almost impossible to shield ourselves from it. We have access to information that can be helpful, but can also cause unnecessary stress in public bathrooms.
Some things, of course, we are better off knowing. It’s important to know it’s best to keep babies rear-facing in cars until they are two.
I think, it’s better to know that any item smaller than a toilet paper tube can cause choking. And while we’re at it, I’d argue that anyone born around 1980 probably needs to know the warning signs of a stroke.
For many of us, our parents are coming of that age.
Yes, I know people who have no idea what a stroke looks like and honestly, it’s unsettling to know that they are out in the world operating a vehicle.
However, far too often than not, we are inundated with so much information that it’s almost impossible for us to process it effectively.
So, allow me to indulge and make a suggestion — make fewer assumptions.
Have you heard of Occam’s Razor? The idea is simple. More often than not, when it comes to all of the information we have presented to us, and we have to make a decision, and the simplest solution is usually the best. The more assumptions we have to make — such as, toilet flushing is ultimately a health hazard — the more unlikely the rationale.
In other words, stop overthinking.
In some ways we just have to become experts at filtering information.
We still need to think, just think more simply.
The greater mental leap we have to make, the more unlikely the risk actually is to us and our children. If nothing else, filtering out some of the noise will lessen the strain on contemporary parents’ brains. We really don’t have to fear public toilets. Worse yet, we don’t need to instill that fear in our children.
I don’t think we need to revert fully to 1983 and send our children outside to drink out of the hose.
But I do think we can find a happy medium.
I do think we can equip ourselves to be well-informed, yet sane parents. If it’s not helpful, filter it out. If I have to go down a scary rabbit hole to make it make sense, don’t go. Take a detour.
It’s going to require us developing a new skill, but the more I think about it, it’s the perfect skill to pass down to our children. After all, they are going to have full access to all of this ridiculous amount of information, too.