I recently read a blog article that was written a couple of years ago but has surfaced and been circulating recently. The title is “Tired Mom’s Tale: ‘Excuse Me While I lather My Child In This Toxic Death Cream'”. And as sarcastic as the title is, it really drew me in and resonated with me. The next line is “I’m just sick and tired of all the rules.” Boom. Parenting in 2020 is not easy. And not just because we are in the throes of a global pandemic, which trust me, is making parenting even harder. No, parenting in 2020 was hard before COVID-19. I think what’s hard about parenting in 2020 is all the rules, opinions, and noise.
If you were to ask any parent anywhere they’d probably tell you there isn’t one right way to do things. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. It’s not simple. It’s awesome that we live in a time where (if you are blessed enough financially) you have unlimited resources to food, medicine, clothing, sunscreen, etc. And you can have it all in your home in 2 days with the click of a button (Amazon is a parent’s best friend, am I right?). But often we parents get information overload and decision fatigue. Sometimes less is more, and the more choices we have the more confusing things get.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
The Rules Are Conflicting
For example, if you’re an American parent right now I bet you know how much screen time is recommended by the American Associaton Of Pediatrics (AAP). It’s ZERO for children ages 0-2. And then once your kids are in the 2-5 age range, there is a one hour max. Beyond those ages, kids are not recommended to have more than 2 hours of screen time per day. Gulp. That may have worked for the first kid. But, whoever wrote that rule probably never had morning sickness and extreme fatigue while pregnant with their third child, and had to entertain a 3-year-old and 1.5-year-old. Screen time was my best friend. And that 1.5-year-old definitely exceeded his ZERO screen time limit during my survival mode (let’s not even talk about how much the 3-year-old got).
Then there are the conflicting rules on feeding babies. I’ve heard it all, “Breast is best!”,”Baby-led weaning is the best!”, “Only do purees or your baby will choke!”, “Never give your child peanut butter before 2-years-old or they will develop a life-threatening allergy!”, “Give your baby peanut butter at 4-months-old, any later and they will develop a life-threatening allergy!” Guess what? I’ve tried it all with my three kids. Purees, baby-led weaning, early introduction of peanut butter. And you know what I have? Three super healthy, growing boys. Nobody choked, one kid has a severe peanut allergy even though I gave it to him early, one picky child, two kids that will eat absolutely anything. No rule is one size fits all.
Obsession With The Rules
The author of the blog post talks about sunscreen which is quite pertinent right now because we are smack in the middle of summer in the US. When I was growing up there was just regular old sunscreen. Sometimes there was fancy purple sunscreen that you applied it as purple and then it disappeared when you rubbed it in. Then there was cool zinc sunscreen just to protect your nose that came in all sorts of cool neon colors. But that was about it. Nobody cared about ingredients. We were just happy to not get sunburned.
But wait. Here in 2020, we obsess about ingredients. You mean, the very thing that was supposed to protect us from skin cancer contains chemicals that could cause other cancers?????? Talk about confusion. And the judgment. If you are the mom at the pool (it’s me, I am that mom) with the Up&Up brand spray sunscreen littered with chemicals, “PLEASE DON’T SPRAY IT NEAR ME!!! IT’S POISON!” Everyone has an opinion. Social media, moms groups, best friends, and even the most well-intentioned grandparents. No one is living your life, in your family, except for you. It is time to tune out the noise.
Tuning Out The Noise
There is just so much noise. So many rules. Followed by so much judgment. My point isn’t that you should forget about the research and lather your kid in chemicals. My point is to use your own judgment. Don’t listen to the noise of others. Make the best choice for your family based on the information you have and, remember, just because the information is there doesn’t mean it is the gold standard of truth.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
Then let it go.
There are so many more important things to think about whether or not the very thing you are using to protect your kid from skin cancer has a slight chance of causing more harm. Because the truth of the matter is that we live in a world where we are faced with risk at every turn. We can’t control everything around us. And trying to only hinders us to live a life of fear, not freedom.
Yes, we could keep hormones out of our children’s diets by only feeding them all organic everything. But we can’t protect them from every potential risk around them for their whole lives. Unless we keep them in a bubble, but that would not be life of freedom. God has called us to be free. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Don’t allow yourselves to be burdened by the yoke of making the perfect choices for your child. You are human and they are human. You both are going to mess up and that’s okay. Learning from mistakes and wrong choices is how we are refined in our faith.
Love Vs Fear
Make your choices out of love, not fear. If you want to use organic sunscreen that’s awesome! Go for it. But if you want to buy the cheap spray sunscreen because you go through four bottles a week, that’s fine too. You are still making the right choice for your family. Tune out the noise and listen for God’s voice. Pray about it, read His Word, and seek Him. He will give you discernment. Not an influencer on Instagram, a famous Mommy blogger, or even your best friend. Flexibility is a great quality and releases so much guilt from “not following the perfect rules”. And trust me, we don’t need more feelings of fear and guilt in 2020.
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ”… (Philippians 1:9-10)