How to avoid pointless parenting anxiety

Here we’re talking about whatever the current guilt-inducing fads are.  I would give examples of what they currently are, but the truth is, I don’t know!  But like 5 years ago they were things like:  not bringing store-bought baked goods places, using the right kind of sunscreen, avoiding BPA, etc.  I think there were a lot more, but that’s what I remember.  (Disclaimer, we still use the old-fashioned neurotic fad approved sunblock, because DC2 is allergic to conventional kinds.)

There are many other paths, but here’s one.   Most of this stuff is really easy to avoid if you don’t live in NYC or the ritzy suburbs of Los Angeles (or similar enclaves).  But if you do live in those places, you can still do the following:

  1. Don’t read anything about parenting (mothering) on NYTimes ever
  2. Stay away from parenting (mommy) forums
  3. If you read parenting books pick them carefully (read: evidence based) and remember that one size doesn’t fit all
  4. Send your kids to a (high quality, obvs) daycare that caters to working parents.
  5. Avoid anxiety-inducing blogs
  6. Avoid anxiety-inducing playgroups

And there ya go.  No more worrying about pointless parenting stuff.

Do you get swept up into ridiculous parenting anxieties?  The kinds that come with, “worried about other people judging me” attached?  If so, where do they come from?  If not, how do you avoid them?

14 Responses to “How to avoid pointless parenting anxiety”

  1. jjiraffe Says:

    Yes, yes, yes. Totally agree with all of these.

  2. Rented life Says:

    We use whatever sunblocks, soaps, and lotions that don’t cause allergic reactions or skin irritations. Yay allergies and sensitive skin! This is household wide and any time some idiot says “but the magic bean oil crap I sell is safe for you, I promise!” I can not so gently remind them we’ve been allergy tested and their “ideas” aren’t worth a epi pen shot and hospital visit.

    I stay away from anyone selling essential oils as the end all cure for all the things. I also avoid all the anti immunizers. This is for their safety because I’m likely to go off on one. But I’ve also noticed they are more into falling all the fads.

    The only people I really struggle with judgement wise is my parents. I’d love for them to back down and realize my decisions aren’t somehow a commentary on their choices when I was little. Nor are they wrong. Nor should they be up for debate as my brother’s choices aren’t. (I’ve also learned if I say it was my husband’s choice, not mine then it’s acceptable.). Love my parents. Not sure how to fight the sexism when I’m not even heard. I deal with that by holding back on visits for a little while and not visiting at all when my own mental health is shot.

    • Leah Says:

      Essential oils drive me up a wall. Not that they don’t have a place, but the worship of them is insane. Tell me again why X is better than Y “conventional” thing? Tea tree oil is my biggest issue. That’s a phytoestrogen and should NOT be used on little boy parts. How is making homemade wipes with that so superior to buying wipes? Or to just using a damp flannel cloth? (I do both, depending on how I feel).

      Sorry about the struggle with your parents. I occasionally get that with my in laws. I just hold firm and don’t engage in debate, justification, etc about my choices. That helps a lot. My parents more tend to be confused about why something is going on, like why my kid is having a tough time teething when my siblings and I didn’t. My little one got that from her dad ;-)

  3. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    Fortunately I have a cast-iron self esteem which is largely impervious to others’ opinions!

    I avoid all the religious fundamentalists, homeschoolers, anti vaxxers, and EO pushers when possible; around here they all seem worried that anything but the One True Way will break their kids. Also I console myself with the thought that we put the preschool price difference between Perfectly Good Play-Based Preschool and 2/5x As Expensive Montessori in a college savings account, because nobody has ever asked me for my preschool transcript.

    • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

      That was supposed to be 2-3x as expensive, but you get the idea.

    • Leah Says:

      I work with a few pushers and just avoid their parties. I find that holding my tongue, most of the time, when they get on a bandwagon helps them not talk to me about it. When I just go “uh-huh” or don’t talk, period, people realize I don’t want a conversation. I try not to be rude, but I don’t make the small talk about their thing either.

      Same with preschool, except right now we’re just at the daycare stage. I couldn’t afford to put money into little one’s college account if I were paying another $50-75 a week for fancier daycare. Plus, my kid gets the awesome benefit of being in a really diverse daycare. Somehow, I lucked into being in a head start-affiliated daycare despite our income level, and we get a good cross-section of diversity in all senses (skin color, economics, life path, language, etc).

      • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

        Somehow the Skeptical Science Eyebrow seem to have driven them off around here! Plus the risk that I’ll explain immunity to them in painstaking detail (we call ‘boosting immunity’ either vaccination or leukemia, depending!).

    • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

      Santa Cruz is full of One True Way fanatics of all sorts (just about any sort of alternative medicine, diet, or conspiracy theory has a following here). I’ve not found home-schoolers to be any more fanatical or weird than the rest of the population (and I know a fair number of home-schoolers, since we home-schooled my son for the last 3 years of high school). Around here at least, the home school community has a lot of quirky kids (some very bright, some with learning disabilities, some just quirky) who did not fit in with the public schools. I understand that in other parts of the country home-schooling is quite different, with a lot of people home-schooling for religious reasons, which is a relatively rare reason here.

      • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

        I live in the rural South. Most of the homeschoolers here are extremely right-wing Mormons, Baptists, and Pentecostals who don’t want their kids to be exposed to homosexuality or evolution (I have heard them say this).

  4. crazy grad mama Says:

    Oh, ha ha ha, you know I do! I absolutely do not have a cast-iron self esteem—I worry about people judging me in all aspects of everything, not just parenting. I’m an anxious person.

    I’d recommend staying away from just about everything parenting-related on the internet. The nuttiness isn’t confined to fringe places like mothering.com; it’s nearly everywhere.

  5. First Gen American Says:

    I’d like to add: don’t over schedule your kid’s activities.

  6. Revanche Says:

    Huh. I get unsolicited parenting advice from know-it-all fathers (notably, the one-time fathers NOT the many times over fathers) but other than that, I can’t remember the last time I actually felt judged for my parenting or felt the need to feel guilty other than self induced guilt that’s run of the mill and passes. Now that could either mean I wasn’t ever judged or felt that way, or simply that it hasn’t ever been important enough to stick in my memory. Same thing in the end?

    I *do* overly ruminate on some parenting choices while I’m working through my feelings or logic on them but that’s how my processing works.

  7. Alyssa Says:

    Great list! I used to be on a couple mommy forums and they turned nasty early with the breast vs. formula feeding, crib vs. co-sleeping, SAHM v. WOHM…I don’t even remember the other topics, but I’m sure there were more! It was tiring and stressful, so I left and haven’t looked back.

    I try to talk parenting only with people who have similar styles to ours – it’s not worth the judgement/etc otherwise. On the same note, I stopped reading any parenting books, especially those recommended by people with very different parenting styles.

    Also – this is probably quite common – having a second really calmed us down in general, and I stopped seeking help/advice/validation.


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