Friday, January 02, 2009

Parenting Magazines

When I arrived at the doctor's office this morning, he was out doing an emergency c-section. So I waited. To his credit, despite the surgery and getting stuck on the freeway, I was there less than 2 hours (the other doctor I transferred from kept me 2-3 hours when he was in the office!).

It was long enough to read one of those stupid parenting magazines.

I came to the conclusion that parenting magazines are mostly written by people with one or two kids--and therefore can't be nearly as valuable as they would if they were written by women with 3 or more kids. Raising one or two is just a different thing--you generally have more money, the ability to pursue a career, and the mistaken idea that you still should be spending every moment with your child (partially because they demand it). Parents of one still sterilize binkies that hit the floor, you know? They still change the diapers when the baby pees in it once (instead of letting it get really soggy or stinky first like the rest of us do--not because it's ideal, but because that's about when we notice that it's wet or yucky). Parents of two, even, still make sure their kids clothes match and are stylish (most of the rest of us are just grateful if they all have clean clothes on, and some days if the diapered ones manage to be dressed at all!). Parents of one or two still believe in bathing their children every single day, and doing infant massage daily, and feeding babies gourmet baby food.

And the parents of one or two still read those parenting magazines in the doctor's office looking for answers to every little question, most of which are actually best answered with "Pay attention to your child", "respect them as you would any adult", or "wait for them to grow out of it because they probably will."

This particular issue included some funny facts. There was a section on understanding your baby's temperament. It included sections on "The oversensitive baby" and "the fussy baby" and "the overly calm baby." That's it. Like there are no other types of child, and the 2 paragraphs of advice on each of those was enough to help you understand your very individual child?

The other funny thing I found was a note on a purportedly scientific study that said that women who report heartburn in pregnancy are more likely to have newborns with average amount or more hair. This is so deceptive. For one thing, it never defines how much heartburn the women reported, or how much hair constitutes 'average or more'. Since most women experience some amount of heartburn during pregnancy, and average or more hair would include at least 2/3 of women, we haven't actually stated anything significant here. Besides, an average woman looking at her baby for the first time is unlikely to know how its head of hair compares with other newborns--and will probably assume it has an average amount of hair (which is really meaningless anyway).

Anything to fill space, right?

At least that was shorter than the lengthy article on how your astrological sign determines your parenting style. The article was stunning in its ability to say the same exact thing to each different parent, regardless of their sign, but in a dozen distinct ways so that you would be unlikely to realize you were getting generic advice.

Oh, and the doc eventually did show up and said the baby is low enough that I shouldn't bother to call if I go into labor--just get to the hospital and don't bother to spend the first couple of hours of labor at home. I suspect that means I'll show up in labor and have to spend those hours laboring there instead.


Laura said...

I totally agree with you about parenting magazines. I've often fantasized about starting a magazine targeted at large families. It would run articles about the best ways to re-purpose hand-me-downs or what things are really worth going to Costco/Winco/Sam's Club for, or the best ways to get fresh produce or how to plan a vacation for a family of eight . . . really. I would read those articles.

Good luck with your new little one. We'll pray for a safe delivery, you know, sometime in the next 4-6 weeks :)

Misty Lynne said...

I gave up reading those magazines a long time ago, after reading nothing of use in them during long waits to see the doctor. I like Laura's idea for a parenting magazine. Now that would be useful!

I found the heartburn survey funny though. That was my one real complaint for my first two pregnancies, and they were both very lacking in hair. By my third pregnancy, I discovered that most of my heartburn could be controlled simply by not eating refined sugars and fats (easier said then done). My third kid didn't have much hair either. Go figure.

morelightthanburden said...

Amen to that!! I have also felt this way about parenting magazines. I always feel like chuckling when I actually see one in someone's house . . .