Receiving unwanted parenting advice is as inevitable as getting peed on… and in some instances, even less desirable. I’ve felt firmly even before Miss E arrived that how I parent is my own business, and how you parent is yours. But lately I’ve been asking myself, at what point does sharing and educating become overbearing, or risk seeming like telling someone else what to do with their child?
I recently entered the debate surrounding the no-good-terrible Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ seat from Fisher-Price on my personal Facebook page, and it started a respectful but worrisome back-and-forth with my friends and family (there’s now a petition to have them recalled). I’ve been privileged to work in an environment at 4C for Children where I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much about how young children learn and thrive, and it feels only natural to me to share that knowledge when and where I can, especially when confronted with something that has the potential to be harmful to a child’s development.
But, it’s not that easy.
I don’t want to tell other people what to do. But I do want them to make educated decisions. And I haven’t figured out yet how to share the things that I’ve learned without running the risk of seeming like I’m saying everybody ought to parent the way I parent (I don’t even have this figured out with my husband yet, much to our mutual chagrin). This is never, ever what I want to do. But I know sometimes that’s how it seems, and I feel like an incredible jerk for it (even though I know I’m going to do it again and again and again, forgive me).
What upsets me most about the iPad bouncy seat isn’t that parents are buying it and using it, but that a huge company with so many resources and research at their disposal chooses to market something they must know will be abused as educational, seducing parents who just want the best, just want to give their kids a head start. I feel the same way every time I see a baby in a carrier without proper support, or in a forward-facing car seat when it’s still so much safer for them to be rear-facing. The companies with the power and the money to choose to do good, to market safe, stimulating products for children just never seem to. And honestly, who can blame them? Whatever their mission statement, their bottom line is profit. They’re telling you what to buy, but I know I’d far prefer a recommendation from a friend, or an educator, or a pediatrician.
So what’s the solution? I honestly don’t know. Chances are I’ll keep running my mouth until I figure it out, though.