Among the top 10 threats to an educated, engaged society, half-baked opinions wrapped up as “the best advice ever” have to rank somewhere near the top.
There is just so much bad content wrapped in the package of well-intentioned “good advice”. Here’s an example from CNN, titled: “Of the four parental ‘feeding styles,’ only one is good for kids’ health, experts say”
Almost every parent struggles with getting their kids to eat healthy food. Kids are, at a bare minimum, one of the most stupidly complex systems that we have near total responsibility over. Their interests, tastes, likes, dislikes, personalities, whatever – they change hourly. Their responses are unpredictable because kids have no filter for rationality. Living with children is opting-in to chaos.
Yet the author of this article felt perfectly fine writing 2,000 words shaming parents for somehow fucking up almost every step of a complex daily ritual.
Let’s say you have a stubborn kid who refuses to eat or has been so wound up by the day’s events that they seriously can’t sit at the table and eat. Or, let’s just say your kid is NOT going to eat [insert healthy meal here] because of texture, color, temperature, a bird flapping its wings in Norway… whatever.
What sort of dubious “expert” advice is there to behold?
What if your child doesn’t want to eat, plain and simple?
“Your child has to come to the meal table, whether they eat or not. They must come; it’s a family event. You can have a conversation about why they are not hungry, but we have to do a better job as parents of respecting children’s appetites and let them own that piece of their bodily function,” Castle said.
Let consequences happen, and make them teachable moments. “If a child doesn’t eat his dinner and is hungry later, you can say, ‘we don’t have snack at this time. … We have breakfast tomorrow morning,’ ” Castle said.
If you’re shamed into the unhealthy tactics listed in this 2,000-word tome, you’ll believe that your only options are to force the child to sit (aka “misbehave like a rabid raccoon”) at the table with the family while everyone else eats dinner like a responsible human. Or, you’ll shrug and send your kid to bed without dinner and then spend the next morning comforting them and cleaning their room after they puke everywhere from hunger.
Yeah, that’ll teach ’em.
Bullshit advice is easily identifiable and formulaic with the following characteristics:
- easy to share, easy to digest, written with talking-points in mind
- easy to shame someone with/guilt-inducing/outrage-inducing just from the headline alone
- short-form or listicle with “input” (e.g. 1-2 short sentences) from experts who don’t go in-depth about the flaws
- very rarely talks in-depth about the other side or usefulness of over tactics/viewpoints/whatever
- very rarely even seeks outside input or evaluates sources
This isn’t specific to one publisher or source. It’s endemic and especially pervasive and persuasive since the advent of Upworthy-style headlines. It’s also not specific to one discussion topic. This happens equally across politics, environment, health, science, etc…
Bad content tied with a credible platform makes it ridiculously easy for mal-intentioned idiots who favor ignorance over hard-won, deep resourceful knowledge to point at things that are actually true and say, “Fake News!”
This will be unpopular, but I’ll point to another example in both the timing and the wording of the “attention all humans: you have 12 years left to undo the carbon nightmare you’ve wound yourself into…” stories. While I’m not dismissing the science at all, I would categorize our current media frenzy and publication style for any and all slights (real and imagined) as outrage porn.
Yeah, our environment, weather, and coastal cities are kinda screwed without wide-ranging action on greenhouse gasses – but what the fuck does an average person do about that while also trying to get the kids to EAT SOME FUCKING PEAS!?
According to the EPA, 28% of the US greenhouse gas emissions come from energy production and another 11% from both residential and commercial activities (heating/cooling mostly).
Another 28% of US greenhouse gas emissions come from travel…. but only 39% of THAT 28% comes from personal vehicles (that’s a world-wide stat because presumably, you’d travel/drive while traveling). The remainder is… diesel, natural gas, jet fuel, etc… not really stuff associated with individual usage (that is: it’s a harder dial to adjust on a personal level).
Among the worst greenhouse gases, methane is 30x more potent than CO2. That means we could drop about 4.8 billion tons annually of CO2 equivalents if we eliminated cows and cow products. That would make the US nearly net-zero according to 2008 numbers. Although agriculture only accounts for 9% of the total greenhouse emissions, remember – methane is meaner.
(PS – if you wanna lose your mind, compare/contrast methane vs co2 vs other greenhouse gasses and their sources here: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases)
So, jerk-ass cows, am I right?
But wait… only 36% of the total US methane emissions are from cows (I combined the “enteric (e.g. cow/ruminant) fermentation” and “manure management” numbers).
31% of the total US methane emissions come from energy production, 16% comes from landfills. 20% of THAT 16% (or 3.2% of total US methane emissions) is food waste.
What’s the fix for that? There are a few things. Probably not on the top of the list, but a helpful step: make the kids eat more veggies and clean their plates, because each time they don’t, you can now officially let them know they’re fucking up the planet and back it up with data.
TL;DR: don’t shame your kids for occasionally snubbing a dinner or being too wound up to sit
like a civilized human peacefully at the dinner table. You can’t fix complex systems with simplistic solutions. Parenting, like the greenhouse gas problem, is a tangled web, but individual choices CAN make a difference if they’re well-thought-out. Personally, smaller portions featuring raw veggies that don’t require energy to cook sounds like a better idea than force-feeding soggy cooked veggies to the kids.