Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ignorant Parenting

     When I was kid, I told myself I'd never make my kids do all the stupid things my parents made us do.
     For the most part, I think we've kind-of succeeded. And by “stupid stuff”, I'm not talking about doing chores, receiving discipline, studying hard, or using good table manners—which are all excellent things (even as a kid I recognized that)—I'm talking about nonsensical things that don't hold water: things not scientifically supported.
     My parents were enlightened and progressive, so they didn't have too many of these. The worst for me was “standing up straight”, mainly to look good. Braden and I stoop/slouch when we stand or walk. I let it go; Deanne gets on him to no noticeable lasting benefit. Perhaps it's genetic. It probably is healthier for posture and certainly looks better to stand erect, but it just feels so unnatural, so it's tough. Unless I consciously think “stand up straight”, it never happens. And even when I try, it's still far from back-against-the-wall erect.
     Another was my mom telling me how to walk because my locked-knees style caused my buttocks to “bounce around too much.” I did change this so to this day I never fully straighten my knees when walking. It's given me muscular thighs since the muscles thus carry so much of the load. But as an adult, when hiking, it tires me out too fast, causing twisted ankles far too often. So I have to consciously think “straight legs” when hiking downhill especially, so the bones carry more of the weight.
     The one area Deanne and I perhaps fail worst is in their reading: getting enough light and sitting up straight with book on lap. We are constantly reminding all three kids about this (as our parents did us). But most ophthalmologists insist it won't “ruin their eyes” to read in dim light or lying down. Rather, it may just give them temporary tension headache, eye strain, or other discomfort.
     Yet Pene's ophthalmologist recently recommended she read with her old pair of glasses and hold the book about 16” distant to help slow her worsening myopia (which has since stabilized over the past year), implying there's possibly some health benefit to appropriate reading posture.
     One of the dumbest things my mom tried on me was hyotan—using pieces of eggplant to get rid of a stubborn wart on my finger joint. I let her do it just to prove its stupidity: rub my wart with each piece, which I then hid in various places outside. Upon my forgetting one of the hiding places, the wart would supposedly disappear. I had an excellent memory back then. Regardless, it didn't work and she took me to a surgeon to have the wart burned off, which worked far better than hyotan.
     Here's one that some doctors still believe: gargle with salt water for a sore throat or excess phlegm caused by a cold virus. I suffered this foul treatment for decades until I saw a doctor explain on TV that phlegm is packed full of antibodies—the “good stuff” that helps kill off viruses. The last thing you want to do is spit or gargle it out or aggravate the throat unnecessarily. Following his advice, colds have healed far faster and less painfully. So I never tell my kids to use that treatment (unlike my mom who insisted I use it).  (Note:  A quick google search just confirmed that gargling does help, so maybe that doctor and I are both wrong...)
     But we have forced our kids to do tons of stuff our parents never made us do—mostly church-related, which they like fine—but which they may one day renounce as “dumb stuff” they were forced to do. I suppose all kids have such lists. As long as ours grow up to become decent people doing their best, I have no cause for complaint or much regret.

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