Medical Misinformation – I: Parenting

-Written by Dr. Ankit Sharma

Disclaimer: This series serves to provide you with misinformation ONLY, as a medium of poorly intended irony. The contents are to be read without much application of brains, and preferably with a pinch of salt – exactly how you’d watch a ‘Fast and Furious’ movie.

Episode 1: How to train your dragon/How to raise your kids.

In this era of “I’m an expert because I said so”, everyone – from someone who has given birth, to someone who has donated sperm, to someone who has spent a grand total of 30 minutes sitting next to a child – is a parenting expert. Mind you – a parenting expert – not an expert parent because that is an oxymoron. I’m a father of a two-year old with a chronological age of 32 and a mental age, as per my wife, similar to our daughter. To seek parenting advice regarding how to raise her as a well-meaning, responsible, non-Communist person, I turn to the best possible scientific sources of such information: social media pages of alleged Child Psychologists.

As a result, I consume medical information on how to handle my 2-year old just like a 2-year old: colourful audio-visuals for my extremely distracted brain and laughable attention span.

You’d think that such pages would take note that each child and household is unique and suggest a curated, individualized approach, but such answers make sense only in University Social Sciences exams. Reel Real life (as per Instagram celebrity child psychologists) demands objective blanket guidelines and What-To-Dos. It became a little puzzling for me when I ‘consumed’ too much of such ‘content’. Let me save you the trouble, though. Here’s the summary, as per leading Instagram experts:

Shower your children with love but not too much love, they might get clingy. Engage with them in play time but also allow them to thrive alone. Avoid screen time, but App-based audio-visual learning aids are brilliant. Stimulate the baby in a wholesome environment but don’t overstimulate them, it interferes with sleep. Inculcate a daily routine but let them be independent. Buy age-appropriate toys for them but also let them be creative with surroundings. Allow them to vent their anger but in a productive way while being gentle but also be firm but not too firm. So, you see, their advisory may very well be the script for Everything Everywhere All At Once sequel.

Of course, you don’t want a stranger to dictate the terms of YOUR parenting. You turn to Instagram Mom bloggers instead, who are better for two very obvious reasons: 1. They are mothers themselves, and 2. They provide easy solutions to every problem, which mostly includes buying something from some website using their coupon code. The reels including copy-pasted parenting hacks and motivation to lose pregnancy weight are on-point, but I want more practical advice – like what to use to recover the contents of my wallet thrown behind the bed. Also, my Dad-Bod was there well before my wife got pregnant.

You can forget about all of that now, as you’ve luckily stumbled upon this post today. Here are a few general recommendations on how to handle your kids: (Read the disclaimer at the beginning of the post again)

1. Hand them over to grandparents: The elders have gone through it once, and can go through it again. They have the necessary experience, sans any inhibition to do what is necessary (read: use Relaxo Hawai footwear to ‘shape’ an obedient personality). It’s never too late to throw in the towel regarding complex new-age parenting and say “we turned out okay, didn’t we?”

2. Lie to them: You can lie to them about anything and they will believe it because a) They are kids and hence very gullible, and b) They can’t use Google to find out the truth. For e.g. If you don’t want them to go somewhere, just say a monster lives there who eats little children. You may scar(e) them a little, and they might start believing in fictional monsters and grow up liking the Harry Potter series, but at least short-term issues are sorted. You may have moral issues about lying, but you’re going to lie to them anyway about questions on how kids are brought into this world, so go about it without guilt.

3. Compare them with other children: Just like dentists, only 9 out of 10 psychologists agree on popular opinions, such as avoiding comparison of your child with other children. I believe in the underdog 10th one who refuses to be a sheep. Bring up every Sharma-Ji-Ka-Ladka you know and say motivational things like “their kid started walking at 10 months, and look at you still holding my leg at ten-and-a-half”. Threaten to enrol them in code-learning programs. Keep NEET application forms around the house at random locations. Discourage free-loading tendencies – if they’re old enough to throw a tantrum on seeing broccoli, they’re old enough to earn and pay for ice-cream themselves.

4. Buy loads of parenting books: You are not going to find the time to read them anyway because, duh, you have a kid, but at least you can put aesthetic Bookstagram posts and blame those authors for every bad behavioural trait your child demonstrates in future. When the children grow up, they’d have a false impression that at least you tried. If your children are going through a phase where they throw things at you, remember to replace all your hardcovers with paperbacks.

I hope it helps one and all, as I’m not doing this for some award. I might write a parenting book someday – tentatively titled Parent Of The Year. If it sells well, there’d be a sequel – POTY 2.

Wait. That sounds wrong.

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1 Response

  1. April 3, 2023

    […] Originally written for Lexicon – The Medical Magazine. Read here. […]

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