Wednesday, February 15, 2012

So Apparently Television, the Internet, and Santa Claus are the Greatest Parenting inventions has just published their choice of “Top 20 Greatest Parenting Inventions”, and I’ve gotta say, I think they’ve got some pretty weird and questionable inclusions (and also managed to exclude some major gifts to the world of parenting). I think I flinched at least eight times while clicking through their list. Here are a few of their "winners":
·         Television. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Our daughter watches television. Emmy loves Yo Gabba Gabba, Blues Clues, and Sesame Street (which is listed on its own as a Top 20 winner), all of which I think are educational, entertaining, and overall pretty darn brilliant. But would I claim that television is one of the best parenting inventions? Nope.
Yes, television can be used discretely as an educational tool, but c’mon now. Let’s be honest. Television is more often used as a crutch by tired parents or as a stand-in babysitter by tired caretakers. Not to mention that as parents we often watch non-children oriented programs, which distracts us from engaging in hands-on parenting. Television makes our family lives EASIER, but probably not BETTER.
·         The Internet. Again, I don’t want to cast stones in glass houses. We TOTALLY use the internet in our house. Too much. But claims that the internet is a prize-winner because of its value as a superhighway of information for worried parents. Ummm… have you ever tried Googling one of your child’s odd illness symptoms? The other night, my concerned husband Googled “toddler has red feet” (because he seems to think the bottoms of my daughters feet are TOO red, and this causes him distress). Well, Google came up with 15,600,000 results to this issue, most of which instructed my husband to not worry so much. And a few sites warned my husband that my daughter might have a rare disease she would soon die from, and there was nothing we could do about it.
Yes, the internet provides worried parents with access to vast amounts of information with a little click of a mouse. But the information will do one of two things: it will tell parents they are stupid for worrying so much (which is exactly what the pediatrician would say), or it will tell parents they should worry a lot more, and watch their child like a hawk because they might keel over and die any second now. Not....Useful.
·         Plastic baggies. Hmmmm… Has heard of a little thing called global warming? I’m pretty sure that if all parents across the United States replaced the crazy amount of plastic baggies we use for packing lunches with some other, more Eco-friendly organizational tool (personally I’d like to buy Em a Bento box when she gets a little older), our planet would be a heck of a  lot happier. Yes, I DO use plastic baggies, but I am trying to use a lot LESS of them, and feel kind of guilty every time I use one. Kudos to my daughter’s daycare for sending plastic baggies back home, so that mommies like me can reuse them and lessen the guilt factor.
There are definitely some other items that made the short-list that I call in to question: I-pods, Bubble Wrap, Santa Claus? But to argue against them all would take up too much time and space.
There are also some items on the Top 20 that I think are worthy of the win: Cheerios (delicious, nutritious, and loved by many a child), washable markers (which allow toddlers to wear their clothing more than just once), play doh (hours of fun, until the colors get all mixed together and turn grey), just to name a few.
But what about car seats, you ask? Baby carriers? Bike helmets? Bouncy balls??? Sorry, as deserving as they are of recognition, they did not make the list.
Of course, the minute published this list, they were opening themselves up to criticism. A “best of” list is always so subjective. But I really think the people at Parenting could have done a better job homing in on the tools that don’t just make our lives as parents easier, but actually make the quality of our parenting better.
What do you think is the #1 greatest parenting invention?

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