Bad Moms With Emily Oster | Honestly With Bari Weiss

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Key Takeaways

  • Suffering does not prove you are a good parent – in pregnancy or parenthood
  • Don’t make decisions for your family based on what you think you should be doing or what others are doing – make decisions that make sense for your family
  • Distinguish between changing guidelines in response to large-scale evidence (e.g., sleeping on the back vs stomach) versus changing guidelines based on sensationalized information
  • Similar to what we see with other public health issues, there is minimal nuance in the information disseminated about how to navigate pregnancy, breastfeeding, child development, and parenting

Introduction

Emily Oster (@ProfEmilyOster) is an Economics professor at Brown University, and a writer of books on pregnancy and parenting. Her goal: creating a world of more relaxed pregnant women and parents

She is the author of, Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know, Cribsheet, and The Family Firm.

Bari Weiss and Emily Oster discuss all things about pregnancy and parenthood – from dispelling popular myths, staying calm in the face of uncertainty, data-driven parenting, and more.

Host: Bari Weiss (@bariweiss)

Getting Real About Having Kids

  • The struggle: the effect of having a new baby in the first year is worse than divorce, unemployment, and the death of a partner
  • Having children induces big dips in marital satisfaction, but those dips are smaller if the baby is planned
  • Why do it if it’s so hard? There is a biological wiring to have children and the highs are high
  • The right number of kids really depends on what’s the right number for you
  • Fertility rates are dropping around the globe
  • Don’t have kids if you don’t want to – it’s not for everyone

Busting Myths

  • Many people nowadays want to have more ownership of the process of pregnancy instead of a list of what not to do
  • Having ½ a glass of wine per day during pregnancy is safe for most
    • Of course, binge drinking and high-volume drinking can cause delays and consequences
    • Drinking up to one glass of wine daily is common in places outside the U.S., but we play the shame game in the U.S.
  • Breastfeeding isn’t overrated but may not have the benefits previously laid out
  • What accounts for the discrepancies? Overinterpretation of flawed data without skepticism
    • For example, studies don’t look at other confounding variables such as other behaviors engaged in, real-time instead of retrospective
  • Approaches are overly cautious without sufficient supporting data – “guidelines are designed to prioritize any small suggestion of benefit for a child against even and infinitely large cost for the parent” – Emily Oster

Data-Driven Parenting

  • Use data to instill confidence: make choices deliberately without just blindly following what someone else did
  • Prioritize what you want as a family instead of bending to the whims of your child: if you don’t want to go to a sports practice or game 5 nights a week, don’t
  • Information becomes sensationalized and then becomes a norm for the future; for example, your child is more likely to be struck by a car than kidnapping but we worry more about letting our kids play outside or walk to school

Lighting Round

  • In the short-term, breastfeeding has gastrointestinal benefits; in the long run, the benefits of breastfeeding are overstated – around 4 months will confer a good amount of the benefits
  • Sleep training improves sleep for kids and parents: have a plan, write it out, and be on the same page with your partner
  • The truth about screens: if you’re using the screen instead of doing a different activity, reconsider; one episode of a show is fine
    • Screens will not change your child’s brain, but they won’t learn anything from TV until around age 3
  • Spanking is not associated with improvements in behavior and is harmful to children’s development
  • Pacifiers will not cause nipple confusion and are good for soothing if your baby will take one
  • Baby-led weaning (introducing solid foods instead of baby food) is a non-issue – if it works for you, do it
  • People try infant potty training (holding your infant over a toilet) but, good luck
  • To raise resilient kids, provide a stable house
  • Moms tend to do more parenting than dads because of the early days when the infant and mother are spending more time together
Honestly with Bari Weiss : , , ,
Notes By Maryann

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