One of my pet peeves. The phrase “my kid was just fine” is usually said by a parent when another parent chooses a different path than they did. I’ve heard it said about all kinds of things, from bicycle helmets to giving babies water to vaccination. And as a pediatrician, it drives me crazy. This is my rant for anyone who has inflicted this phrase on another person.
Look, I get it. I know your kid was just fine. Your kid may even have kids of their own at this point. But here is the thing. Over time, we’ve learned that some of the things that we did for children in the past were not a good idea.
For a long time, we recommended that parents put babies to sleep on their stomachs. Something about vomiting and not choking on it. While we meant well, this probably resulted in a number of needleless infant deaths. Now we recommend that you put babies to sleep on their back in the crib with nothing but a sheet and the baby. Yes, that is different than what you did. But it’s not commentary on your parenting. It’s a commentary on the way that science and medicine progress over time.
If you put your baby to sleep on their stomach when that was the recommendation, you didn’t do anything wrong. My mom put me to sleep on my stomach and clearly it worked out okay. But we have learned a lot since then. And so, we changed the recommendations. That’s just how parenting goes. We do the best we can. When we know better, we do better.
Do We Really Need to Say This?
Why are we even having this conversation? Because, there are a whole group of people out there who feel that it’s appropriate and necessary to comment on other people’s parenting choices. And when young parents make decisions for their child based on current treatment recommendations, they will hear from lots of people about how “their kid was just fine” when they did so-and-so.
Well, I will say with those parents won’t. First, it’s just plain disrespectful of their role as a parent. Parents get to make choices for their children, and it is not okay to be disrespectful even if it is not what you did with your kids. It is not okay to undermine their decisions. There are a few grandparents out there who are guilty of this. Stop it. Today.
Second, and more important, the phrase “my kid was just fine” in reference to things like basic safety precautions, infant feeding recommendations, and discipline styles ignores the reason that those recommendations changed. They changed because kids died. Now, I know that your kid didn’t die. But, somebody’s kid did. Somebody else’s kid is disabled because of doing the thing that you use to do with your kid. That’s a hard truth for some people to hear.
A Game of Luck
Parenting is as much a game of luck as it is a game of skill. We get lucky every day. Our children come home to us, safe and healthy. Except, sometimes, they don’t. And when you bust out with “my kid was just fine,” you minimize the pain and loss of every parent whose kid wasn’t just fine.
Let’s try something new. Instead of reminding the world that you did it with your kids and they were “just fine,” try saying “oh, that’s changed since I had a kid that age.” And then, maybe you could even take it upon yourself to learn why that recommendation changed. You might learn something, even if it’s just gratitude for your resilient kids who did fine despite all of the things we didn’t know then.