I don’t do anything these days without consulting the internet. I no longer prepare grocery lists, but instead look up recipes online then wander the aisles of my supermarket tracking down what they tell me to buy. Buying a toaster has become a three-day exercise in checking reviews vs prices to get the best deal, and I won’t spend an hour streaming a random film in case it’s bad choosing instead to spend an hour online reading movie reviews. It’s making life untenable. Perhaps the most confusing place for this is parenting.
Every week someone somewhere is releasing a new study that seems to completely refute the study released last week, and I read them all. One minute you need to allow your toddler to make mistakes, the next actively engage in correcting them. One week it’s encouraged to keep them constantly engaged, the next you need to give them time to themselves, then engagement is necessary, as long as you are engaged with them. I am told that being overly relaxed as a parent can lead to my son lacking focus, and being incapable of finding the drive to succeed in life (see Mom & Dad I knew this was all your fault), while being overly restrictive can lead to him being unable to make decisions, and incapable of dealing with difficulties. Presumably being somewhere in the middle creates a blend of these two kinds of dysfunctions? It seems no matter how you choose to raise your child, the end result is always going to be an adult whose sense of depression, bewilderment and isolation has left them barely capable of functioning day-to-day.
Causing me particular aggravation is that kind of click bait particular to new parents, the “Watch out your child could die if” news story. Articles titled, “Ten things you should never do with your kids” always get me clicking, and include things like, “let them go online”, or “Let them play on the swings”, but never include the phrases, “Imprison them in a basement” or “Sacrifice them to a dark lord”. Those tips seem obvious candidates for me, particularly given that the articles are written in an era where fake medical professionals tell you not to vaccinate your child, and people not only do that but then also argue with others in their office about it.
“Maureen the article said we weren’t to let Koosie play on the swings, it said absolutely nothing about slathering him in bloody meat and chucking him in a shark tank!”
What recent studies do seem to unanimously agree on, however, is that people who have children are generally happier than those who don’t. Meaning the only way we will ever be able to overcome the general sense of confusion, sadness, and malaise that our parents forced on us through their own parenting choices is to have children of our own and do the same to them.