Posted by: laughs4dads | June 21, 2010

It’s All Our Fault

I’ve been writing this month about all the things parents have to worry about. And now comes word that we have to worry about being worried.

This word comes from an article by David Code in the June 1 edition of The New York Post (tagline: “As funny as The Onion, but maybe not as factual”). The article was entitled “The Parental Stress Behind Autism.”

The article sums itself up in the first paragraph in case one paragraph is your absolute limit, as may be the case for many Post readers: “Parental stress may be a major factor in many childhood problems, including even autism and asthma.”

The article quotes the National Scientific Council for the Developing Child, a Harvard-based group of researchers from top universities: “’The realization that stresses experienced by parents and other caregivers can affect a child’s developing brain architecture and chemistry in a way that makes some children more susceptible to stress-related disorder later in life is startling news to most people.’”

Apparently, studies have linked parental stress to asthma, diabetes, depression and anxiety disorders. But in the Post’s inimitable style, the article contradicts its own sensational headline: “(Harvard) stops short of naming ADHD or autism, preferring instead the more general term of ‘psychological’ and ‘neurodevelopmental disorders.’”

Well, okay then. Yet more childhood afflictions we can blame parents for.  And it immediately raises this question:

Isn’t The New York Post directly contributing to our children’s problems by publishing articles that will clearly stress out parents even more?

I’m kidding, of course. I love The Post as I would love a demented uncle with an NRA membership.

I’ll tell you who is really to blame for all these stress-related maladies reported by Harvard: Harvard is. And Yale and Princeton and all those other schools that our kids have very little chance of getting into, but which parents obsess over from even before the kids are born, when they place headphones on the pregnant woman’s stomach and play recordings of classical music so that the kid comes out pre-cultured; and then sit the kids in front of Baby Einstein videos so they can get the jump on kindergarten; and then drive them around from one after-school activity to another; and then make sure they take part in all the clubs that look good on a resume, and do community service, and take intense SAT tutorials, and do 28 drafts of the application essay which is vetted by “experts” for large sums of money.  And, speaking of which, on the off-chance that they do get into Harvard, we have to worry about how we’re going to pay for it, and we have to start doing that about from the time we are children because that’s the only way we could possibly save enough money, unless our kids take out loans that they’ll be saddled with for the rest of their lives because they’ll probably major in philosophy or English and we’ll be lucky if they earn enough to even move out of our homes, much less pay off their loans.

On a personal note, my family never went through any of that, because it was obvious from an early age that our daughter, Casey, would be going to an art college. So we were more concerned with building her portfolio, and taking the perfect slides of her work, and figuring out what kind of bicycle drawing had the best chance to get her into Rhode Island School of Design (don’t ask), and wondering whether or not her brain was getting addled by too much exposure to fixative spray.  And, by the way, RISD is about the same price as Harvard, and you can pretty much be certain those arty kids won’t be paying off loans any time soon.

But let’s get back to the original premise of the article: that our stress is causing all these problems for our kids. Has anyone at Harvard considered that our kids are the cause of our stress? I mean, it’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it? We get all stressed out about keeping our kids healthy, which makes our kids ill, which stresses us out even more, which makes the kids sicker…

The bottom line is, we were a lot more relaxed before we had kids. So, obviously, our kids would have many fewer problems if we simply didn’t give birth to them in the first place. There–problem solved.

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