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9.09.2010

The Case For Knowledge

Thanks to the interwebs there is a wealth of knowledge available to pretty much anyone at just about any time. And by wealth I mean filthy, stinking, quadrillionaire wealth. There is a lot. It gets overwhelming even to me, and I’m a High I.

Perhaps I should explain that last statement. One of the many personality tests I have taken (you take a lot of them when in school to become any kind of teacher to illustrate differences in learning styles) is called the DISC test. It breaks everyone down into four very general, basic personality types. D is dominating, I is all about information, S is social, and C is caring. There is an actual test out there, but I’ve been told that the easiest way to find out which personality type someone is is to ask them to tell you about themselves. If they tell you about their job, their accomplishments, and their achievements they are a D. If they say “what do you want to know” they are an I (they don’t have enough information to answer you). If they tell you about their friends and their social engagements they are an S, and if the tell you about their family or husband first they are a C. I am an I. A high I. As in most other things of this nature most people are actually a blend of all of these types. I however, am 98% I, with a tiny bit of D and C (and absolutely no S). So I am all about info. I never stop reading and wondering and learning. I am constantly wondering “how does that work?” “how did that happen?” “how will this affect me/my family/people in general/the world” and “is this really good for us?”

Anywho... my hunger for knowledge is pretty unquenchable, but the amount available on the internet on any given topic is enough to overwhelm even me. So I can’t imagine how it feels to a normal (and by normal I mean not a freak for info) person trying to research something on the internet. Or even to haphazardly stumble upon a piece of information that may be helpful, because due to the constant bombardment of information that we experience while simply surfing we have learned to ignore any gems that might be of use to us.

So how are we supposed to make informed decisions as parents? We have two choices. We can do as much research as possible, weight the risks versus the benefits, and decide, OR we can just keep with the status quo, doing what our parents and TV commercials tell us to do. Which do you think I’m in favor of? Three guesses:)

I’ve heard all the arguements “my parents did it and I turned out okay” (did you, really? are you sure?), “we lived through it, so will they” etc. Why change? I say why settle. New research is being done all the time and personally if something is discovered that is going to make my child safer or healthier I want to know about it, STAT. Furthermore, ancient parenting practices that were shunned in the past are resurfacing. I want to know about those, too. How else can I make the best choice for my children and my family?

Let’s look at some concrete examples of how knowledge has significantly improved the lives of our children (shall we?).

The biggest, most obvious example that I can think of is Back to Sleep. Believe it or not there are still moms out there who shun this practice, because “their mom put them to sleep on their belly, and they survived.” Whatever. The statistics are staggering. Depending on the report you read I have heard that as many as 70% fewer deaths a year have occurred since back to sleep was first introduced. 70%. Very rarely are the statistics that obvious. Yet people still reject this information. 70% more babies are alive now and they still put their babies to sleep on their bellies.

There are so many other areas of parenting shaped by current research, but that is the most obvious. I could also go on about breastfeeding, babywearing, BPA... but I won’t. My point in this post is NOT to preach any one facet of any one parenting philosophy. My point is to demonstrate that knowledge makes a difference. Sometimes it’s a tiny difference, and sometimes it is a big difference. But don’t dismiss it because there is so much. Don’t ignore it because your own mother did something differently. You are the parent, not your mother, or your mother in law, or your best friend... or even me. You make the decisions, and they should be educated ones.

The quest for info should not rule your life, of course. No one person can know everything, even on a single topic. We can only do what we reasonably have the time and mental capacity for. This may sound contradictory, but it's only more reason to continue to grow and learn. Don't feel like changing your mind on something will make you seem weak or changeable. Follow your gut and the most reliable research you have the time to find, then go have fun with your kids without worrying or feeling guilty because that is all you can realistically do. And if you come across new information on that topic in six months, give it the consideration that it deserves. You don't need to obsess for weeks about finding the absolute most safe carseat, but if you ignore a friend who tells you that it may be a good idea to keep your child rear facing for longer than a year then you're doing both your child and your friend a disservice. You don't have to do everything someone else tells you to do, but it doesn't hurt to take 2 minutes to look up WHY it might be a good idea, then make that decision for yourself based on the information you find.

1 comment:

Cait said...

Love this post! Not enough people take the time to do research when it comes to certain things, and new studies are being done all the time, proving that certain things aren't as good as they were once perceived to be.

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